Have you ever wondered what happened to all the tuner cars of the 2000s? Did some of them get re-modified in more modern styles, or did they all get turned into fiberglass cubes years ago? While some are most definitely in the junkyard in the sky, some of them are just squirreled away in garages, waiting for the right time for a revival. Case in point? Castrol’s Top Tuner Pontiac Solstice, the mother of all Solstice builds.
If you haven’t heard of the Top Tuner Pontiac Solstice, don’t worry – this project had a decidedly Northern twist. Castrol was looking to expand its reach in the Canadian sport compact scene and decided that a series of all-out builds was just the ticket. In 2006, the oil brand partnered with six highly-awarded Canadian tuners to build one special Solstice that’s very much a product of its time. Believe it or not, this show car is currently up for grabs on – where else? — Facebook Marketplace for the sum of $20,000 Canadian. So, let’s see what 20,000 loonies gets you.
At the heart of the Top Tuner Pontiac Solstice sits the supercharged two-liter four-cylinder engine from a Chevrolet Cobalt SS, except it’s not supercharged anymore. See, this LSJ was stroked to 2.2 liters and boosted to 30 psi courtesy of a TD05 turbocharger. JE forged pistons and wristpins mate with GM Performance forged rods to keep a lid on things, while a ported head helps with flow. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, it got nitrous oxide on top of all those goodies. Claimed output? A cool 500 horsepower.
Of course, being a product of the mid-aughts, the visuals of the Top Tuner Pontiac Solstice are over-the-top. We’re talking about a one-off widebody kit and a custom hardtop, as the Solstice Coupe didn’t exist at this point. Due to the extensive body fabrication, the fuel filler neck now attaches to the rear bumper, and the car isn’t really a convertible as such anymore.
As for suspension, the Top Tuner Pontiac Solstice sits low on Tein coilovers with the suspension company’s EDFC damping adjustment solenoids on deck to adjust rebound on the fly. The anti-roll bars and control arms are all GM Performance Parts, but they’re chromed and fitted with polyurethane bushings because that was the style of the time. To top it all off, the whole car was sprayed in a special color-shifting candy green paint that really pops in the light.
While modifications are a matter of taste, some just don’t hold up to today’s scrutiny. HID headlights in halogen reflector housings, anyone? Thankfully, the car isn’t currently rocking the custom interior it was once fitted with, for that red suede-clad bundle of screens and aftermarket gauges has aged about as well as you’d expect. While I’d love it if some components of the over-the-top audio system from show car guise stayed in the car, it’s nice to see a normal interior and not a cabin that looks like a strip club.
However, the interior isn’t the only thing that hasn’t remained with the Top Tuner Solstice over the years. The chrome grille mesh, special front emblem, and original DUB wheels haven’t survived the last 17 years or so. Given the oddball double-staggered wheel fitment, I can’t say I miss the original wheels. However, the front end feels unfinished without grille mesh, and the special front emblem should’ve really stayed with the car.
I remember seeing this car when it was still fresh and hot and being blown away by the extent of the changes. Obviously, fit-and-finish wasn’t quite up to OEM scratch, but it was impressive seeing what a few skilled Canadians could accomplish. If the Top Tuner Solstice is still pushing out anywhere near the claimed 500 horsepower it made back in the day, this would be one seriously rapid car for $20,000 Canadian. It’s also one of the most depreciated cars on the market, with a claimed $500,000 Canadian going into the build according to an Auto123 article. While the Top Tuner Solstice certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, it’s an important living document of a subculture era that’s now largely dead. For the right sort of person, it’ll be $20,000 well-spent.
(Photo credits: Facebook Marketplace Seller/Castrol)
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