Cars

Canceling The Pontiac Solstice Was A Mistake

In 2002, Pontiac brought the Solstice to the Detroit Auto Show. Then they sat back and watched the crowds to see if there would be any interest in their little roadster. Luckily for Pontiac, they struck a chord with showgoers. There was so much interest generated in the Solstice that Pontiac decided to produce it as quickly as possible. 

2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP in Yellow
A Yellow 2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP | General Motors

Well Received

In April 2005, Pontiac debuted the Solstice as a 2006 model year vehicle. The debut was a bit unconventional. At the time, the television show called The Apprentice was very popular. Pontiac approached the show and asked the contestants to create a promotional brochure about the roadster. The show agreed and documented two teams as they created the brochure and presented it for review. Of course, the Solstice was the best supporting actor for the show. After the show, Pontiac opened the order books. Within an hour, over one thousand people had placed their orders. The public’s attraction to the Solstice immediately translated to dollars and cents.

Financial Crisis

In 2007-2008, shortly after the introduction of the Solstice, General Motors was undergoing extreme stresses associated with the financial crisis of 2007-2008. In fact, it had to accept bailout funds from the government to keep functioning. However, even with the bailout, GM would not be able to continue operating all the brands it had. So, the decision was made to pull the plug on weak performers. Pontiac got the ax. That is not to say that Pontiac didn’t have some good products, though. The Pontiac Solstice was one of them.

2006 Pontiac Solstice on stage for its Debut
The 2006 Pontiac Solstice makes it debut | JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images

Pontiac’s Mistake

Shutting the doors on underperforming Pontiac is understandable. But, the Solstice was a highlight in the portfolio of cars in Pontiac, as was the G8. At least the G8 was rebadged as a Chevrolet SS. The Solstice, however, was not rebranded. Instead, it was shown the way to the grave. Really? Pontiac made a mistake.

Was it Politics?

Some could argue that the cancelation of the Solstice was a political move. Having a two-seater to compete with the Corvette would be unacceptable. To avoid that, trashing the Solstice was the only option. That argument has been heard before at GM. Remember the Fiero?

Red 1983 Pontiac Fiero
1983 Pontiac Fiero | Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images via Getty Images

What Should Have Happened

What would have made more sense would have been to take the Solstice to a sister brand. Chevrolet is not the only other brand under the General Motors umbrella. Buick has even had a two-seater of its own in the past, the Reatta. It was awkward in styling. But, the Solstice’s stying was not awkward. It was already beloved by many. So, why was the effort not made to rebadge the Solstice as a Buick? Yes, Buick at the time was considered as close to a geriatric brand as one could get. But, the Reatta showed that Buick was still after younger buyers, which is what the Solstice would have provided to Buick if the rebadging had occurred. It would have also prevented the Corvette folks over at Chevrolet from having a heart attack if the Solstice had gone under their banner. 

1990 Buick Reatta Convertible
Red 1990 Buick Reatta Convertible | Bringatrailer.com

It was a mistake to send the Solstice to the big garage in the sky. As an alternative, the Miata is offered by Mazda still. It has become boring, though. It is still the benchmark for a reasonably priced little convertible. But, it does not evoke the excitement of the Pontiac Solstice.