The Aztek was the laughing stock of the auto industry in 2001 but Pontiac redeemed itself with the beautifully crafted Solstice concept which lit up the 2002 North American International Auto Show in Detroit to become an overnight sensation. It was green-lit for production and it hit dealerships four years later with over 7,000 orders taken in the first 10 days of availability. If that wasn’t enough, it could be had as a targa-top to rival its European counterparts — but, that should have been enough... Just as Pontiac was regaining its pride, the sniggering started up again because of that removable roof.

Much of the concept’s styling remained intact on the production car; the big five-spoke alloys, fluid character lines and the retro front end went down very well with buyers and the little two-door even brought back some of that old ‘Pontiac excitement’ thanks to a blown 2.0-litre four-cylinder with a healthy 260bhp. It was nominated for the 2006 North American Car of the Year award. Things couldn’t be going better — but the economic recession of 2008 slammed the brakes on all the progress Pontiac was making with General Motors pulling the plug on the brand in 2009. The targa-top Solstice played a part in the legendary brand’s demise...

Though it was a great looker, it was a half-baked idea; the removable roof was clearly an afterthought as once you’d taken it off, there was no place to store it in the car! Your choices weren’t good; you could either leave the roof on or take it off and leave it at home hoping it wouldn’t rain. Unsurprisingly, not many Solstices with the targa roof left dealerships and in a bid to salvage the sorry situation, Pontiac offered a fold-up soft-top that could be stowed in the boot. This was a good solution — however there was to be another kick in the teeth as this was an option only and you had to pay thousands of Dollars extra for it and not many bothered.

Perhaps just another generation of refinement could have seen the Solstice become a real player in the roadster segment had Pontiac not been cut. Guess we’ll never know...