The Pontiac Solstice: A Bright Spot for GM Tuning
An entry for the 2006 model year, the two-seat Pontiac Solstice shot out of the dealership sales gate to a surprisingly warm reception for a modern American niche car. This instant demand meant that the Pontiac Solstice would not need to wait to be embraced by sport tuners unsatisfied with factory specifications. Built on a solid hydroformed frame and propelled by potential-filled Ecotec engines, recent Solstices add on electronic stability control as well as a limited-slip differential for superior handling in a lightweight package. Pontiac Solstice preparations in closed circuit tournaments have translated to great potential in tuning street cars.
Pontiac Solstice Exterior Enhancements
Available for 3 years solely as a softtop convertible, General Motors has not offered a removable hardtop cover option for the Pontiac Solstice roadster though one can be purchased for around $1,400 through aftermarket provider Smooth Line. In 2009, Pontiac finally brought to market a Solstice coupe with a targa-style removable roof section. Not onlyÂ does it supplyÂ greater protection, the Solstice coupe offers improved vehicle rigidity through the use of the roadster's hydroformed frame.
With a total length shorter than a Hyundai Accent, the Pontiac Solstice physique still invites a creative touch to the exterior. RK Sports and Duraflex are two popular providers for Pontiac Solstice body kits. Also attracting some recognition for appearing on Formula Drift competition Solstices, Norm's FiberglassÂ has been one name for an aftermarket source for hoods, fascia panels, and ground effects components for the Pontiac Solstice.
Pontiac Solstice Engine Performance
The Pontiac Solstice brought out the best of GM's Ecotec engine. On the Solstice convertible introduction, a 2.4-liter inline-four version of the Ecotec powerplant stroked 177 horsepower and 167 pounds feet of torque to the rear wheels. Models built inÂ 2008 and 2009 suffer with a four horsepower deficit due to a catalytic converter complying with tougher emission requirements. Added in 2007, a GXP model of the Solstice planted a turubocharged, 2-liter, 260 horsepower direct-injected engine under the small sports car's hood. This latter engine would eventually go on to power the SS versions of the Chevrolet HHR and Cobalt. However, tuners with the 2.4-liter Ecotec can also bolt on turbocharged power via several aftermarket kits released by Hahn Racecraft. In fact, a stage 4 turbo kit is rated at 447 horsepower, a 270 horsepower gain over the stock engine output.
When the Ecotec engine's muscle seems lacking, GM Performance Division's work on a HOT ROD magazine Solstice project could provide appropriate inspiration to a tuner's demanding horsepower ambition. Conscripting a LS7 V8 engine found in the Chevrolet Corvette, HOT ROD Solstice intends to feed more than 600 horsepower in order to achieve quarter mile times just under 11 seconds.
Pontiac Solstice By Mallett Cars
Operating as a professional performance house, Mallett Cars Limited has busied themselves in building the fastest examples of the Pontiac Solstice with packages ranging from a supercharged 2.4-liter Solstice to a 900 horsepower edition running on a turbocharged LS7 engine. A tamer Mallet V8 conversion involves adapting a GM LS2 V8 for an aggressive but street legal 400 horsepower. Equipped in a package that includes a performance suspension and Corsa muffler, only 100 of these Mallett Pontiac Solstice LS2 conversions will be performed at a cost of $21,285.75 excluding the vehicle itself.
Pontiac Solstice in Competition
The Pontiac Solstice often competes in roadster form wearing a hardtop roof cover mounted to comply with race series safety guidelines. Driven by Rhys Millen, a Red Bull-sponsored Solstice GXP actively fought against import manufacturers in 2007 and 2008 securing a significant victory in the Red Bull World Drift Championship. Millen and the Red Bull Solstice also attackedÂ Pikes Peak Hill Climb during those two years, winning the rear wheel drive class on both occasions. Currently set in second place in the 2009 series, Ryan Tuerek is campaigning Formula Drift with a Pontiac Solstice GXP propped to 330 horsepower with a Gardella induction system and turbocharger modifications.