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The Solstice - A Big Win for Bob Lutz & GM
Editorial by Ming
GMInsidenews.com

GM's image is about to change.
Bob Lutz should be congratulated once again for bringing us the Pontiac Solstice (and to a lesser extent the Chevy Cobalt), and here's why:

The image the "naysayers" - the Import Buyers, the Car Magazine Editors, and the Youth Market has had of GM: A domestic mass-producer of cars and trucks with outdated "value" pushrod engines, 20-year old platforms, and other hoary "proven" technology like 4-speed automatic transmissions driving it that has only Cadillac as a shining example of modern technology - and only for those willing to shell out big bucks required to buy one (or an expensive up-trim vehicle like the Rendezvous Ultra). The rest of the brand lineup is seen as food for fleet sales, with a few exceptions like the Corvette and Suburban standing out as "desireable".

Compare this to much smaller competitor Honda, darling of the media and the Import Crowd that manages to continuously update or keep relevant its engines (while keeping them reliable), suspensions, transmissions, product image, and purposefully pursues cutting edge tech as a means of selling its lineup of FWD cars. All this WITHOUT charging a premium penny for admission (like Cadillac).

Some will note that Pontiac had a turbo Sunbird in the 1980's that used a new, techy engine, but despite its sporty looks and convertible option, the platform was a re-engineered piece that was never very competitive or sporty, and the turbo was less than reliable. The Pontiac Fiero was also a similar hit that helped change Pontiac's image (that the Solstice reminds me of), but it suffered from more than a regular dose of serious and embarassing quality problems that plagued GM and other makers' cars in the 80's.

The coming Solstice, with GM's much improved quality as a foundation, proves to the naysayers that GM can and will build a product that is fun, small, exciting, modern, and not based on some pre-existing platform nor utilizing a tired obsolete engine or transmission to drive it. All this, and with a starting price at 20 thousand! A price in range of even the "Youth Market" GM craves.

Let's look at the hurdles the Solstice probably had to jump over to make it to production:

1. It's not a very "practical" car
2. It needed a whole new platform
3. Coupe sales tend to slide after the initial buzz wears off
4. Affordable RWD/big V8 fans, still angry about the loss of the F-bodies, would not be impressed
5. The price had to be kept low

Now the Rebuttal:

1. GM has more than its share of practical and even some downright boring family cars - surely it has room in its massive lineup for a fun, inexpensive, sporty roadster?
2. Vauxhall, Opel and other GM divisions all wanted their hands on a small purpose-built roadster, so the need was worth the effort.
3. Multiple variants off of the same platform, like the Nomad, and offering turbocharged or other engines for the Solstice in the future (a GXP version) should keep the thrill alive longer than a static, unchanging coupe
4. The RWD/V8 fans couldn't keep Camaro/Firebird sales from slumping into the toilet. And meanwhile the "youth market" was all about looks, "Importz", and low displacement engines making high-revving power -- a totally different breed than the traditional rude, crude, big & bad muscle car. Besides, the muscle car crowd should be older, richer, and able to afford the refined RWD muscle of the GTO (or they'll go out and restore an old Camaro anyway!)
5. GM is the worlds biggest automaker with the worlds biggest parts bin. Even with an all new platform, partners around the world as well as upcoming models like the Chevy Cobalt were ready to offer the donor parts to use with the new car to keep the cost low.

These hurdles were cleared, and Bob Lutz is largely to thank for it, as well as a GM that bent to accomodate Bob's vision. The passing of this vehicle to production was the big test for Mr. Lutz, and I say he passed it with flying colors, since the production version looks better to me than even the concept did (a first for me).

They even went one step further to assure the Solstice would be "relevant" and competitive and gave it a 2.4L ECOTEC with 170hp and (more importantly) 170 torque with Variable Valve Timing (for tech heads and more horses) to shame a Toyohonda's weak-in-the-torque engine, rather than resort to the cheaper method of using a supercharger on a pre-existing GM engine, or even going back to the pool of available pushrod V6s used in GM small "performance" cars like sporty variants of the Cavalier with a 3.1L V6 in the early 90's. If Honda, Subaru and Mitsubishi can do it with a 4-cylinder and get praised for it, then GM should be able to as well. That's the kind of attention to the market and GM Pride that people won't miss.

We should be wary of the GM Beancounters trying to have their say and further cheapen the vehicle from what we've seen so far, but other than that (which I doubt Mr. Lutz will allow) or the curse of recalls, I don't worry much of its success. In fact, even if the sales are not overwhelming, GM will have succeeded already in changing its image with the mere introduction of a car like this.

So let's all give GM and Bob Lutz a hand, because this time they really deserve it.

 

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i dont know what one i should get.

a slostice or a cobalt SS. im going to be buying one of these two next spring (when i can get a new used with low miles onit.) you know from the people that buy them and bring them back because they cant pay or whatever the reason. just waiting those few extra months can me thousands of dollars. its crazy.

has anyone done andy photoshops of solstice in several colors?
 

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Originally posted by Smilingoat@Feb 8 2004, 06:58 PM
i dont know what one i should get.

a slostice or a cobalt SS. im going to be buying one of these two next spring (when i can get a new used with low miles onit.) you know from the people that buy them and bring them back because they cant pay or whatever the reason. just waiting those few extra months can me thousands of dollars. its crazy.

has anyone done andy photoshops of solstice in several colors?
I don't mean to export people from GMI, but I think that somebody did I bunch of those on solsticeforums.com B)
 

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Originally posted by cyboexpo2002+Feb 8 2004, 07:09 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (cyboexpo2002 @ Feb 8 2004, 07:09 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-Smilingoat@Feb 8 2004, 06:58 PM
i dont know what one i should get.

a slostice or a cobalt SS. im going to be buying one of these two next spring (when i can get a new used with low miles onit.) you know from the people that buy them and bring them back because they cant pay or whatever the reason. just waiting those few extra months can me thousands of dollars. its crazy.

has anyone done andy photoshops of solstice in several colors?
I don't mean to export people from GMI, but I think that somebody did I bunch of those on solsticeforums.com B) [/b][/quote]
haha thanks, they looked good
 

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As much as I like the solstice, there is something about it thats missing. Its not a V8, or power related. Its something I cant put my finger on. I just hope that the car does really well. A large amount of recalls and what not will kill this car, along with teh cobalt.
I disagree with some points, one being the selling point.
IMO the car is very cool, but I think that sport compact/import buyers nor fbody owners will look at this car as much. Import people wont like it because its a pontiac and that it will probably fall apart after 36k miles, and fbody owners wont buy one because its not 400hp(but you said that)
People that buy this car will be in large, female buyers looking for a sporty vert. Others will be guys that want a sporty ride. I think GM made a great car, but the car will dip below the radar of most people if they dont advertise this car. GM is lacking in advertising. They need to really show its handling and pep because that will sell the car. This car is a roadster, so dont sell it like a regular car. I also hope for a turbo or supercharged version.
I also really hope that the bean counters dont rape the interior. Its such a nice car with very nice lines. For 20k, this is a very nice ride for people looking for a sports car for the weekends, and for the price you cant go wrong. Personaly, you cant go wrong with more power, but I can wait.
All in all, GM did a great job I just hope that someone notices.
 

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well, for me that's a chick car with looks and no oomph, and the gto... well it dosen't appeal at all...
I just want a 2 door 4 places ls2 rwd pontiac car (hint, hint!)... wich probably will never be built.
by 2007 it will be probably too late for the camaro to make a difference. Probably there will be more than the rustang in this market segment (I'm thinking either a dodge magnum 2 door hemi rwd, either a nissan v8 rwd)...
 

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I just read a nice article on the Solstice and GM's ever-increasing capabilities as a world-class automaker, most of which I agree with. The article is in this month's Automobile Magazine, of all places. You know Automobile Magazine, the bastion of anti-Ford/GM, pro-Japanese and German sentiment?

I think the Solstice is great not just because it's a nice car (for a mere $20,000!), but more because of what it has: a nice interior that I knew GM was capable of, a new platform developed in a relatively short amount of time, a manufacturing process that allows profits at a relatively low production level, and more.

In my mind, the only problem with the Solstice is that now the bar is raised higher for GM... Don't go and screw it up!
 

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Originally posted by Ming@Feb 8 2004, 04:55 PM



Let's look at the hurdles the Solstice probably had to jump over to make it to production:

1. It's not a very "practical" car
2. It needed a whole new platform
3. Coupe sales tend to slide after the initial buzz wears off
4. Affordable RWD/big V8 fans, still angry about the loss of the F-bodies, would not be impressed
5. The price had to be kept low

Mazda passed this risk assessment about 15 years ago with Miata. In 2002, given the popularity of ragtops and after years of Miata and Z3 reporting steady sales, the road was much more paved for GM.
 

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This may be off-topic but please explain to me why OHV (ie pushrod) engines are low tech. BMW has been producing overhead cam engines since the 1930's, Pontiac had an OHC inline 6 in the late 60's (available in the le mans and firebirds). The OHV has been around since the mid 50's (I think that olds or cadillac introduced it in the early 50's correct me if I am wrong).

The LS-1, although being cam in block (OHV), can hardly be considered low tech. Aluminum block and heads, composite manifold, coil on plug distributorless ignition, need I go on?

Basically cam placement does not dictate the worth of a powerplant. It is all about the right tool for the job. OHC revs easily, and has higher rev potential (with out breaking anything anyway) but the OHV is more compact allowing lower hood lines and typicaly makes a fatter power band.

Personally I prefer a nice fat powerband over an engine that has to be turned upwards of 6000 RPM to appreciate what you have.
 

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Originally posted by bigals87z28@Feb 8 2004, 02:42 PM
As much as I like the solstice, there is something about it thats missing. Its not a V8, or power related. Its something I cant put my finger on. I just hope that the car does really well. A large amount of recalls and what not will kill this car, along with teh cobalt.
I disagree with some points, one being the selling point.
IMO the car is very cool, but I think that sport compact/import buyers nor fbody owners will look at this car as much. Import people wont like it because its a pontiac and that it will probably fall apart after 36k miles, and fbody owners wont buy one because its not 400hp(but you said that)
People that buy this car will be in large, female buyers looking for a sporty vert. Others will be guys that want a sporty ride. I think GM made a great car, but the car will dip below the radar of most people if they dont advertise this car. GM is lacking in advertising. They need to really show its handling and pep because that will sell the car. This car is a roadster, so dont sell it like a regular car. I also hope for a turbo or supercharged version.
I also really hope that the bean counters dont rape the interior. Its such a nice car with very nice lines. For 20k, this is a very nice ride for people looking for a sports car for the weekends, and for the price you cant go wrong. Personaly, you cant go wrong with more power, but I can wait.
All in all, GM did a great job I just hope that someone notices.
I drive a 2000 Z28 and I love the Solstice. I fell in love the second I first saw it. I hope the vehicle does very well and I am hoping maybe I can have one as a daily driver one day. Lets not forget though, the Ecotech engine is not a pushover engine. It can achkeve and handle 1,000hp with parts offered straight from GM. The Saturn Ion Redline hold the land speed record in it's class with an Ecotech engine in it(216mph by the way). Performance enthusiasts can make this vehicle perform just like they can a V8, it just won't sound as good ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Originally posted by eshealy@Feb 8 2004, 09:27 PM
This may be off-topic but please explain to me why OHV (ie pushrod) engines are low tech.
I'm just saying that this is the perception in the Auto Media and with a large segment of the "youth market".

Perception is sometimes more important than reality when you want to change opinions or your image. GM's quality, for instance, outstrips many Japanese brands, but you still have the perception that it isn't the case.

Same with OHV engines. The perception is that they are "low tech", and GM labeling them its "value engines" sure doesn't help.

The obvious exception to this rule is the Corvette engine. Even the Import dudes have to bow down before its superiority.
 

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well, it would be so simple to change those petceptions... imagine for a second that in the last fast and furious it was some sort of s/c sunfire, in those races...
gm would provide the car (cars) for free, and then feature them in their comercials...
instead, it was a yenko, and the only message was that only greasy morons drive them and lose 70k$ worth over a stupid bet!!
 

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OHV's have a bad rap simply because they are always 2-valvers. I mean, there have been 4 valve race engines that are OHV, and now Ford and GM are getting into 3-valve. But even though OHVs have advantages, they can't shed the 2-valve stigma. That's what's construed as "low-tech", and to some degree, appropriately so.

I suspect a SOHC 2-valver would be derided as low-tech, almost as much as the OHV push rod units are. It's all about valve area and more specific horsepower that comes with it (power per displacement). But in the truck world, where low-RPM performance is paramount, no one should bicker about these engines. Although, what GM has done with 2-valvers is noteworthy even in performance car circles. The LS1 et al don't give up much in top end to 4-valve competitors, but they nonetheless are simpler, lighter-weight, lower-cost, and smaller. Will the Corvette ever need to go 4-valve OHC? Yeah, I think it will happen, but right now it doesn't seem imperative. C7 ?
 

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I look forward to several GMIers' posts, mostly because they're well-written, logical and thoughtful. In my opinion, desmo9 falls into this category... :lol:
 

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I completely agree that GM has a problem with it's perception. Corvettes are the best value in the sports car world and everyone with money drives a Escalade. Those are about the only good perceptions about GM. I hear my sisters 9th and 10th (first car age) friends talking about how they're gonna get a Civic and "pimp it out". Then of course they'll all go racing and beat any car, even a Ferrari just like the Supra did in the Fast and the Furious (of course they don't realize that Supra's had a turbo I6 which is slightly more powerful than their 2.0L Honda). GM has to figure out how to get all of these ignorant kids to think that their cars are cool and fast (even if they aren't). I sure hope the Cobalt is a positive step in this direction. IMO, they should have a "tuner" model available and coincide it's launch with an appearance in the third Fast and the Furious (if the producers would be able to be convinced to put a domestic car in it's star role).
 

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Originally posted by desmo9@Feb 9 2004, 04:11 AM
Will the Corvette ever need to go 4-valve OHC? Yeah, I think it will happen, but right now it doesn't seem imperative. C7 ?
ahem... the corvette already got a DOHC V8. Its called a ZR1.

and as for OHV low tech motors, I would like to point out that the only "new" thing on OHC motors is VVT. Either way, there is no technological superiority over the eachother. With gm's VVT OHV motor, this should make car rags give that look like a confused puppy in a slaughter house. Its just all how the media calls it, the public will follow. The 4spd trans's in cars compared to the imports 5spds, yet teh 4spd will get as good gas milage.
And Id like to see some "advanced" engine make 400hp, and get near 30mpg like the LS6. Hell, Id like to see an import with 400hp that didnt cost more then 65-70k stock.

"instead, it was a yenko, and the only message was that only greasy morons drive them and lose 70k$ worth over a stupid bet!!"

70k? The yenko alone is worth over 125k, and the hemi challenger is worth upwards of 50-60k. Some of said that a hemi cuda could fetch over 100k also.

That part of the movie was 100% bs crap. The muscle cars had thoes 2 cars by far. Thats a lot of juice for a eclipse to catch up to a over 425hp hemi cuda, and the Yenko...well, they aint stock and they came that way. And for racing 2 100k cars, thoes 2 guys should be shot, but I belive that they are cars, and the way to treat them is to drive them.
 

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yeah, you got the ideea...
yes, it was cool to see those cars in the stupid movie, but when you take into account the whole message...
now any kid thinks those cars were crap, but what's worse is how they pictured the drivers/owners...

like in the first one, altough I really would have loved to see the riced out supra thrashed in the end, NOOO, it was the super-cool charger wich was messed-up...

don't get me wrong, I respect those ***. cars (supra, rx7, old skyline) and for sure I'd want to see again some turbo cars coming from gm, but that dosen't change a thing: it would have been better if those 2 movies never existed...
 
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