Have You Heard?

Apparently, many people still hadn’t/haven’t heard that Cristy Lee is no longer part of the broadcasts of the Barrett-Jackson auctions. The first telecast of the current auction taking place in Scottsdale, Arizona aired yesterday on fyi (not on its former long-time TV home, Motor Trend/Velocity) and the post Where Is Cristy Lee? received its highest number of views in some time.

She has not appeared on a Barrett-Jackson broadcast since October, 2019. Yes, last year’s schedule was disrupted because of the damn virus. I’m not even going to show a picture of the lovely Ms. Lee.


From time to time I use information from the site 365 Days of Motoring in this blog. I do not like that the site is not secure, nor do I like the fact that I often cannot corroborate the “facts” there anywhere else.

For example, the site claims that the Saturn Sky was unveiled to the media on this day in 2005. However, many sources–such as Wikipedia–claim the Sky concept car was first shown at the 2005 North American International Auto Show, which used to be held in Detroit every January.

Anyway…I will use any reason to show and to write about the Sky. From The Pontiac Solstice Book by Gary Witzenburg–a book that is, quite frankly, a PR piece from General Motors–a picture of the Saturn Sky:



This is one of the few cars that I do not see more often here than back in the mid-Atlantic. I don’t know if part of the explanation is that the Sky and the Solstice were built not too far from where we used to live.

I like the way the Solstice looks, but I love the way the Sky looks. Although both cars were built on the same platform with the same drivetrain, they shared no exterior sheet metal. As almost everyone reading this knows, I think GM should have given Buick an updated and upgraded version of the Solstice/Sky as a halo car. As some of you may know, my wife test-drove a Sky (and many other cars) before she bought her Lexus SC430 in March, 2007. (Fourteen years ago?!?!)

The car she drove was not in Red Line spec and, frankly, the interior felt cheap. Still, it handled well and was decently comfortable although the interior was also a tad smaller than optimal.

Once again, I lament the virtual disappearance of cars like this from the automotive marketplace. Thirty percent of American households consist of married couples living without children compared to twenty percent being married couples living with children. That doesn’t even count the single-person households.

A car like this could even be fitted with a hybrid drivetrain like the BMW i8. A small displacement (1.6-1.8 liter) turbocharged 4-cylinder engine could be coupled with electric motors to give the car electric-only capability AND a potent power-to-weight ratio when fully engaged. Yes, I know; no one is listening to me.

We would like to read your thoughts on the Sky/Solstice, two-seat roadsters, “power” hybrids or anything else that’s relevant.







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Not Everything New Is Progress

Too many people are seduced by the cult of the new. If it’s new, they believe, then it must be better than something older.

Well, and this might seem like a trivial example, in my opinion the person who invented blister-pack packaging was a moron and so are the companies that use it. I can’t tell you how many pills I have destroyed, how many capsules have been punctured and how much medicine has WOUND UP ON THE FLOOR with the stupid design.

I try to avoid buying medicine packaged in blister-packs, but for some of the things I take such packaging is unavoidable. By the way, does anyone besides me think the very name “blister-pack” is an awful choice of words?

Since all human beings are flawed it only stands to reason that all institutions and inventions of people are also flawed, although, of course, not all to the same degree.


The mind-numbing homogeneity of car design is another “new” thing that is worse than what it replaced, in my opinion. I know regulation severely hampers what car companies can do, but surely they can show more originality. From a comment by David Banner (not his real name):


“I was at Panera this morning. Looked out the window at my Malibu. Saw nearby car and thought it was also a Malibu. Too many cars look the same. Hyundai just stretches its car body style: Elantra begets Sonata begets Azera.”


To me, all modern pickup trucks look the same. Some variation in styling does exist among SUVs, but many SUVs are indistinguishable by sight.

From Top Speed a picture of a modern, regulation-compliant car that didn’t look like everything else:


See the source image


Of course this is a picture of a Saturn Sky, a car that has been shown and discussed before in this blog. Before one remarks that it’s a clone of its corporate cousin, the Pontiac Solstice, be aware that while the two cars shared the same Kappa platform, they shared no sheet metal nor any part of their interiors.

As my favorite TV character, Dr. Gregory House, once shouted, “Climb out of your holes, people!” You don’t have to buy the indistinguishable and the mundane. (By the way, next Saturday will mark the 15th anniversary [!!] of the airing of the first episode of House.)








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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.


See the source image


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



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.


July, 2020 Update:

Originally I showed a 2007 Solstice GXP with 37,000 miles and an asking price of $14,490 along with a 2007 Sky Red Line with 51,000 miles and a list price of $10,990. Both cars were sold a long time ago so AutoTrader took the pictures and/or links off its website. I’m not going to bother finding generic replacements for the photos. Back to the original post:


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…








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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.


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

See the source image

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?

See the source image

From topcarrating.com a picture of a Pontiac Solstice.

See the source image

From conceptcarz.com a picture of a Saturn Sky.


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.


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:


See the source image


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


From motorcarclassics.com a picture of a Saturn Sky.


See the source image


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!