Frugal Friday, Solstice/Sky Edition

Since last night’s Big Bang Theory series finale I cannot get the show’s theme song or “Soft Kitty” out of my head. I thought it was a good, not great, end to the show. I know it’s TV and I have to “suspend my disbelief,” but Sheldon’s reverting to his obnoxious and self-centered personality after winning the Nobel Prize in Physics only to have an epiphany of selflessness while accepting the prize seemed somewhat forced and inorganic to me. Yes, it’s America and people want a happy ending. That was delivered, for sure. Once again, while no one connected with the show will ever read this I offer my thanks to the cast and crew. I am sad that The Big Bang Theory will no longer be produced.

 

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From lifeandstylemag.com a picture of the cast of The Big Bang Theory.

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A recent photo by yours truly of a Pontiac Solstice Coupe. I don’t think I had ever seen one in person until this. While a Solstice has been featured in a previous Frugal Friday, and I have written about it and its close cousin—the Saturn Sky, I have not featured both of them in a Frugal Friday post.

Obviously I am a big fan of these cars. While they shared the same platform they did not share any sheet metal. I like the looks of the Sky more than the Solstice, but I think both cars are quite handsome.

My wonderful wife and I have both test driven a Sky, although not in Red Line spec. The Sky Red Line and Solstice GXP had a 2-liter/122 cubic-inch, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produced 260 HP/260 LB-FT of torque, which still might be the highest specific output of any GM engine ever. An available dealer installed option was a modified computer tune and two new sensors that resulted in an increased output to 290 HP/340 LB-FT.

Today’s Frugal Friday, therefore, is the “best” deals on a GXP and Red Line. Much subjectivity is involved as it’s not necessarily the least expensive car offered for sale in the US, but a combination of price and perceived quality. The Solstice first:

 

Used 2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP Convertible APALACHIN, NY 13732 - 515556646 - 1

 

Picture via Autotrader; it is a 2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP in Yellow over Black with a manual transmission and just 37,000 miles. I limited my search to cars with fewer than 60,000 miles. The seller is asking $14,490.

 

Used 2007 Saturn Sky Red Line Fredericksburg, VA 22408 - 504746622 - 3

 

Also from Autotrader and, obviously, offered by Lucky Line Motors (in Fredericksburg, VA) is a 2007 Saturn Sky Red Line in Black over Red. This Red Line has 51,000 miles and has an automatic transmission. The dealer is asking just $10,990.

It’s hard for me to imagine two more interesting cars that are so affordable. For the nth time the average “transaction price” of a new vehicle in the US is approaching $40,000. The list price of both of these cars combined is only about $25,000. A shout-out to David Banner who suggested a feature like this.

Since it is likely I will begin revealing my Ultimate Garage 2.0 tomorrow and since that reveal, along with the cars that just missed the cut, will take about two weeks, Throwback Thursday and Frugal Friday will not appear until after Ultimate Garage 2.0 is finished.

The straw that breaks the camel’s back doesn’t even have to be as heavy as the other straws…

 

#BigBangTheory

#FrugalFriday

#SaturnSky

#PontiacSolstice

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Saturday Saturn Sky

The post title sounds like part of the “question” to a Jeopardy “answer.”

OK, first this from NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute:

Planet Six

In my opinion photos like this are awesome and humbling at the same time. I doubt I am the first person to express such a view.

I am a staunch supporter of space exploration because I believe it is simply an unavoidable part of human nature to investigate. Since at a “micro” level I believe that intelligence and curiosity are highly correlated, at a “macro” level an intelligent society should be curious about the universe. I also believe that the pure pursuit of science has been valuable in showing the virtue of keeping an open mind and in not assuming one already has all of the answers about anything.

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Given the post title, you knew a picture like this was inevitable:

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From cargurus.com a picture of a Saturn Sky in what is a gorgeous color, in my opinion. I think this color was called Bluestone, but I’m not sure. By the way, when I post these photos from cargurus.com I don’t know if they’re from a current listing and I suspect they’re usually not.

Although the Sky used the same Kappa platform as the Pontiac Solstice, the sheet metal and interior were completely different. I like the looks of the Solstice, but I love the looks of the Sky. Every now and then I have to admit that I get a case of buyer’s remorse regarding my BMW Z4 and wonder if I should have purchased a Sky Red Line, instead. It certainly would have had a lower purchase price and lower maintenance costs. As I wrote in this post, when I began the process of finding a car I began by only considering automobiles with 8-cylinder, 10-cylinder and 12-cylinder engines. (Hey, I’ve driven the Z4 fewer than 8,000 miles in the 26+ months I’ve owned it. I’m not too worried about gas mileage.) As impressive as the specific output of the Red Line engine is, it only has four cylinders.

Oh well, how does the saying go, “Hindsight is always 20-20.”

Wouldn’t It Be Nice?

I hadn’t planned on posting again today, but I also didn’t expect to receive the email I am about to share. I sent the URL for the post Congratulations! to Buick. An aside: I couldn’t send an email to General Motors per se, but had to pick one of the makes. Since you probably don’t have this blog memorized like I do, the majority of the post was about the Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky and I wrote that I have long believed that the Solstice/Sky should be improved and revived and sold by Buick as a halo car. That’s why I sent the link to Buick because, of course, neither Pontiac nor Saturn exists.

Here is a portion of an email I received today from the Buick Customer Assistance Service Team:

“Thank you for contacting Buick Customer Assistance Center.  We appreciate you taking some of your time to write, and share with us this link, featuring two of our GM vehicles, a Pontiac Solstice GPX [sic], and a Saturn Sky Red Line.  We are very pleased with your enthusiasm for GM brands!

We are not ruling out the possibility of bringing these vehicles back to the market.  [emphasis mine] Please note that your suggestion is documented and made accessible to the appropriate department for proper review.  The Service Request Number that we have created for your feedback is…”

While I realize that replies like this are done to foster goodwill among the car-buying public, and I doubt I am the only person to send such an idea, I have to admit I was excited by “We are not ruling out the possibility of bringing these vehicles back to the market.”

I would be more excited if I were to receive one of these cars as a token of appreciation if/when they are revived. 🙂  What would they call it? Buick Wildcat, Buick Electra…Wouldn’t it be nice?

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From topcarrating.com a picture of a Pontiac Solstice.

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From conceptcarz.com a picture of a Saturn Sky.

Congratulations!

Kudos to Bob Baffert, Mike Smith and everyone else in the Justify crew! As Smith and Justify controlled the pace, when he ran the first half-mile in 48 seconds and change and the first six furlongs in a minute, 13 seconds and change I told my wonderful wife that Justify was probably going to win the race. My father’s gas station was across the street from Pimlico (a TERRIBLE neighborhood now) and I spent many days at the track. Believe it or not, my tremendous and growing aversion to newsprint—I can’t STAND the smell or the feel—makes it difficult for me to bet at the local track because I like to study the charts in the Daily Racing Form before I bet. Strange, you say? Well, if the shoe fits…

Oh, given the difference in times if Secretariat could be resurrected, he would have won yesterday’s race by more than 20 lengths over Justify. No offense intended to Justify, just an affirmation of the greatness of Secretariat.

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I have been reading The Pontiac Solstice Book, which chronicles the development of the car. The book is not really an objective history, but more of a promotional piece.

The Solstice (and Sky) had a very compressed time from concept to production. One of the key players in the program, Mark Hogan, made what has turned out to be a sadly ironic remark, “If the market keeps fragmenting into lower volume, more expressive vehicles, the ability of a manufacturer—GM, Toyota or anybody else—to do these low-cost, low-volume vehicles becomes the holy grail.” Of course, the lower volume, more expressive vehicles have become the sole domain of very expensive car makes and the large manufacturers just grind out as many SUVs, pickup trucks and cars that all look alike as they can. I have long believed and often written that General Motors should have kept producing the Solstice/Sky, with some refinements, as a Buick halo car.

The higher performance version of this model, the Solstice GXP/Sky Red Line, was a hell of a car. The turbocharged, 2-liter (122 cubic inches, to make Bill Stephens happy), 4-cylinder engine produced 260 HP and 260 LB-FT of torque, the highest specific output for any GM engine in history. Pontiac and Saturn even had a program for a dealer performance upgrade that boosted HP to 290. The car only weighed about 3,000 pounds. In homage:

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From pinthiscars.com a picture of a Pontiac Solstice, a GXP, in fact.

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From hiswheel.com a picture of a Saturn Sky.

In my opinion, these cars still stand out amidst the homogenized offerings of today’s large car companies. I know this plea falls on deaf ears, but GM, bring back this car!