Yes, there is one US-made car in the last 10 years that is already highly collectible. It’s the 2009-2010 Pontiac Solstice coupe. Did you know that Pontiac made a Solstice coupe? We’ve never seen one in the wild which makes sense when you find there were only 1,266 ever made.
The Solstice coupe was one of many victims of the GM bankruptcy. Pontiac was arguably the biggest victim. The coupe was caught up in the somewhat unexpected end of the brand that could track its origins all of the ways back to the Oakland motorcar and 1907.
Pontiac’s Solstice was the offspring of GM VP Bob Lutz
Pontiac’s Solstice was the offspring of GM VP and head of product development Bob Lutz. He wanted Pontiac to get back to its sporty, European-like roots. He also wanted a quick “parts bin” car based on sketches by Franz Von Holzhausen. Franz of Tesla fame-his gig as a designer began with GM.
Sketched as both a two-seater coupe and convertible, Maximum Bob said, “Let’s build both.” And so in 2002 the Solstice convertible and coupe concepts showed up at the Detroit Auto Show. A pre-production convertible appeared at the 2004 Detroit Auto Show, but actual production was delayed until the end of that year as a 2005 model.
As it was easier and quicker to produce a convertible that is what went into production first. It was based on GM’s Kappa platform powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 177 hp and 166 lb-ft of torque. A similar convertible called the Saturn Sky was developed concurrently. The coupe was to come later and was finally announced in mid-2008 as a 2009 model.
The coupe was actually a Targa top with removable panels
Rather than a true coupe, it was a Targa top with removable panels for semi-convertible versatility. But by 2009 things were looking bleak for GM. It was losing billions of dollars a year. In 2005 alone it lost over $10 billion and by 2008 that number jumped to almost $31 billion. That’s $31 billion in one year. In effect, GM could have made more money if it stopped production altogether because it was losing on most models it produced.
Entering into bankruptcy the federal government offered to bail out the corporation if it did what it asked GM to do. One of those requests was to eliminate so much crossover of products. That meant killing some brands which ultimately resulted in killing off Hummer, Saturn, Saab, and Pontiac. It also demanded that GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner resign.
Solstice and Sky models were built at GM’s Wilmington, Delaware, assembly plant. On June 1, 2009, GM filed for bankruptcy protection. It chose to shut down the Wilmington plant the following month. It was right when model year changeovers begin. So 12 pre-production 2010 Solstice coupes were actually made. These joined the 102 pre-production 2009 models and 1,152 production coupes assembled at Wilmington. That made a grand total of 1,266 copies built.
Pre-production 2010 Solstice coupes were produced to 2010 specs and VIN coded as 2010 models
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Pre-production 2010 Solstice coupes were produced to 2010 specs and so they were VIN coded as 2010 models. They were used for evaluation, publicity photos, and event display models. When the end came these were part of the huge batch of GM vehicles that went to auction as per the bankruptcy requirements. That is why there ended up being a few 2010 models.
Altogether Pontiac built over 64,000 convertibles in its five-plus years of production. GM being as huge as it is means things don’t shut down overnight. It also means plans sometimes in the works for a decade continue at their pace regardless of little hiccups like bankruptcies. Things were so bad across the board at GM that it was really almost a crapshoot how it would end. Many thought that GMC trucks being as redundant as it is would go away but few saw Pontiac in the crosshairs of discontinuation.
But that has also made the coupe highly collectible right from the start. So as improbable as it seems this sporty, rare, and interesting US-made car is high on collector’s lists. Prices vary all over the place based on mileage and options. The holy grail is a GXP version with a manual transmission. Happy hunting!