Ladies and gentlemen of Oversteer, welcome to this week’s round of Ask Doug — everyone’s least favorite column here on Oversteer, where you ask Doug a question, and Doug replies to the question, and nine times out of 10 it becomes very clear that Doug is no smarter than a middle-aged bonobo.
If you’d like to participate in Ask Doug, you can! Just e-mail me at OversteerDoug@gmail.com, and I will consider posting your question here on Oversteer, though I will also consider forwarding your question to my friends and asking how anyone could possibly be this stupid.
This week’s question comes to us from a reader I’ve named Tom. Tom writes:
Your work is pretty good, and I’m usually entertained.
Do you think the Saturn Sky & Pontiac Solstice will be future collectibles? Why or why not?
I remember hearing nothing but praise when they were released, and I’m surprised how many are out there for sale with less than 50,000 miles and not much more than $10,000. Sounds like a good buy …
First off, Tom, thanks for calling my work "pretty good" and noting that you’re "usually" entertained. It’s now a completed life goal for me — I’ve been able to create pretty good work that usually entertains you. Why do I even need to keep working? I should stop now, frame your letter and go on a speaking tour where I tell people how to achieve success.
Next, let’s discuss the Solstice and the Sky. I’m going to give it to you straight, Tom: these cars will never be collectible, in any way, shape or form, at any time, ever, as long as we live. Let me tell you why.
The main reason I say this is that General Motors simply made an enormous number of these things. There are 34,000 Saturn Skys and another 65,000 Pontiac Solstices, plus another 7,500 Opel GTs, which is what the Saturn Sky was called when General Motors sold it in Europe. So there are like 110,000 of these things running around out there, which is a vast number. By comparison, there are only about 17,500 units of the Ferrari 360 out there in the world — and I’m not even sure that will be a future collectible.
The Solstice and Sky, instead, will be regarded as curiosities; unusual sports cars that represents a very specific time period in General Motors history. Honestly, my presumption is this: the way we currently feel about the Pontiac Fiero is how we will feel about the Solstice and Sky in 20 years. Yes, the Fiero is cool, but it’s pretty worthless, and it was sort of an odd 1980s project that younger people just look at as "weird" rather than "exciting."
With that said, there may be some exceptions. One is the Solstice Coupe, which was made in extremely small numbers — just over 1,000 units of that 100,000-plus-unit production run. That makes it especially unique, and kind of cool — and the fact that it actually has a different look than the regular Solstice means it’s not just one of those cars people swear will be cool because they had some graphics package or special wheels.
With that said, let’s not delude ourselves here. The Solstice Coupe is not going to someday be worth big money. The Solstice Coupe will forever be looked at as the odd, rare stepchild to the regular Solstice, and it won’t be worth dramatically more than a standard model, no matter how much the people on the Solstice Coupe Forums obsess over the fact that they have one of just 26 cars with a certain exterior color, interior color, transmission, engine and cigarette lighter design. It just isn’t special enough.
The other versions of these cars that could someday gain some value are the turbocharged models — the Solstice GXP and the Sky Red Line. Instead of the normal, rather underpowered 177-horsepower 4-cylinder, these models had a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that made a surprisingly strong 260 hp — good enough for zero to 60 in something like five seconds. I think that’s cool, and you think that’s cool, but let’s be honest: you aren’t going to gain collectability with 83 extra hp. It just won’t happen.
This is all reflected in the current values, as Tom stated above. I don’t know if you’ve checked the Solstice or Sky markets lately, but these cars are quite common and surprisingly cheap. You can get one for under $10,000. You can get a nice one for $12,000. That’s not horrible depreciation for a 7-year-old GM vehicle, but compare it to, say, the Honda S2000: nice versions of that are still selling for MSRP, 15 years after it came out.
Yes, the Solstice Coupe is cool — and yes, the Sky Red Line and Solstice GXP are cool. And, frankly, yes, the Solstice and Sky in general are cool. But in my mind, the Fiero predicts the path where these will go — and it isn’t up, into the sky, to the point where we’ll be seeing them cross the auction blocks at Pebble Beach in 20 years for $200,000. More likely, in 20 years, they’ll be sitting in Midwestern garages owned by people who swear they’re going to restore it one day, "when they finally get around to it." Find a Pontiac Solstice for sale or Find a Saturn Sky for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.