It really is fun to talk with like-minded people about cars in general and how to approach specific cars. I was on the phone recently with HPP Editor Christopher Phillip and we discussed this particular installment of What If. We bounced ideas back and forth about how we should handle the Solstice. While we both believed it should have a V-8, we were also of the mindset that more was needed. After all, V-8 conversions were hitting the street almost as soon as the first Solstices rolled off the assembly line—nothing really new there. There needed to be a styling difference. Chris suggested making it look more like the '54 Bonneville Special.
Almost immediately, my mind was catapulted back to late 2006, when I had some informal conversations with a contact at Pontiac's ad agency. I had floated the idea of doing a pair of bubble-topped Solstices for SEMA, one in copper and one in green, to show where the new two-seat Pontiac could trace its roots back to. As one might expect, the idea fell on deaf ears and the project was never given the green light. And here was Chris, seven years later, proposing the very same idea.
So here is our collective vision of the reborn Bonneville Special concept. Though half a century separates the two designs, there is a familiarity between them in general form and this treatment brings the transformation full circle.
As we stated, the engine would be a V-8 and in this case, we would go with an LS9 crate engine. After all, if you're going to build a memorable machine, it is best to start with the top-of-the-line engine that GM currently offers. We would mate it with a six-speed manual transmission from a late-model GTO and rework the electronics to mesh with the Solstice body computer. The top is the most prominent change, with a custom-fabricated bubble top. This one is a little different than the original in that it is constructed of automotive safety glass and the amount of tint is actually adjustable.
How can we do that? The easiest way would be to impregnate the glass with a light-sensitive coating that automatically adjusts to the amount of sun—like those used on sunglasses. The trouble with that is that it would not be controllable by the driver. Instead, this version would use a second bubble, also of safety glass, designed to fit tightly inside the outer glass. The two would be sealed with a silicone gasket. A smoke-colored liquid would be pumped between the two bubbles, providing the desired level of tint, from none to a nearly opaque appearance. The bubble would lift automatically when the doors were opened.
There were other details that harken back to the legendary Motorama car. The wheels feature a custom 20-inch billet design that mimic the complex, ribbed wheel covers. Unlike the original car, the knockoffs are real. As for the original's simulated spare-tire cover, we would leave that detail off, as the era of the spare tire is coming to a close with the viability of “run-flat” tires. Instead, we would use a new rear fascia with Silver Streak-inspired chrome recesses for quad exhaust tips. The original Motorama car also used the familiar Pontiac Silver Streak hood trim, so this time around, they are re-interpreted as racing stripes that extend back from the hood to the small air-intake scoops at the base of the windshield.
This customizing of the Solstice stands as a tribute to the proud heritage of the original Bonneville Specials, Pontiac, and the Motorama. It also brings this concept to the present day and shows how a great design and idea transcends time. There is only one other question: copper or green? We say, build them both!
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