I saw a stunning sky redline in a local car show and after chatting with the owner the idea of owning one was planted in my head.i always had a desire to buy an affordable and fun convertible for summer and weekend drive. My first choice was honda S2000 but they are very expensive and from what I am told by some owners they are underpowered. Can you share with me the Pros and Cons of owning a redline, what year I should look for, what I need to look for when examining a potential buy, where is the best source to find one to buy?
Greatly appreciate the advice.
Some have gone over the big pros and cons of these cars but I'd like to highlight a couple of things.
The Water Pump. It is a common issue to have the water pump go out on Redlines between 50,000 and 70,000 miles. If, however, the water pump has already been changed, chances are it will last a long time. It is expensive with some owners reporting a $1,400 repair bill for it. If the Redline you are looking at has had the water pump changed already and is over 70,000 miles, you should be golden.
The Cup Holder. The center tunnel cup holder is notorious for breaking. So much so the OEM units are hard to find and going for a premium of up to $200...for a plastic cup holder. The Santana cup holder is around $180 but is machined from aluminum and FAR more rugged than the OEM. That said, I have an early build 2007 with the original cup holder still in perfect working order. If you break it, get the Santana version and never replace it again.
Practicality. If you want a trunk, get a different car. This one barely has one when the top is up and loses half of that when the top is down. For a second car that's a fun weekend car though, who cares. Top down you can still get enough luggage (loosely using that term) for a couple to take a weekend trip somewhere and if you're willing to travel to and from your destination top up, you have even more room.
The High Pressure Fuel Pump (HPFP). I'm surprised no one has mentioned this yet. The HPFP can go out on the Redline and while it's not exactly cheap, it is something you can replace yourself with a few simple tools and a fuel line disconnecting tool. This has an upgraded version too but if you're not modifying your car's performance, you won't need the upgraded pump. An OEM pump will work just fine.
Cam Shaft Position Solenoids. Again, a common problem I'm surprised no one has mentioned. These can fail but cost about $50 each (there are 2 and if one goes out, replace them both) and take a 10mm socket and 5 minutes to change. Changing our spark plugs, while still easy, take longer than this.
Timing chain. This isn't a problem but more of a wear/service item. If the car has more than 120,000 miles on it, look into what it will cost to have the timing chain replaced. It may not be necessary but if the Solenoids mentioned above fail and you see metal shavings on them when you remove the old ones, chances are these shavings are from the timing belt guides getting worn past their silicon "chain guides" and are in need of replacing. I think 120k miles is the service interval for the chain anyway. (Again, I think.) So on a higher mileage car, this is something to consider.
Those are all the major things other than things like brakes, tires, oil changes and coolant changes that you want to look for on any used car. Most other things are subjective to the owner. The front fenders are a good tip but someone mentioned that one already too. Now for the pros:
Parts. While some parts are getting harder to come by (OEM front fenders, quarter panels, front bumpers, interior bits and pieces) most of the drive train and chassis is easy to find. The engine was used in a number of GM vehicles (The 2.0 turbo in the Redline is referred to as the LNF and was used in the Colbalt, HHR, and others. Derivatives of this engine still power GM vehicles and some of the parts are still interchangeable) so new parts for them are easy to find. Same with the transmissions, either manual or auto. The rear differential was out of the Cadillac CTS and these parts are still easy to find. Suspension was unique to the Kappa but I don't think anyone has found a problem finding suspension arms and I know there are still companies making axles and wheel hubs for our cars. Some parts, like the bumper, front fenders, hood...are going to be expensive as they are either hard to come by (like OEM front fenders and bumpers) or are now made in small quantities by a handful of aftermarket vendors (also like DDM or Norm's front aftermarket fenders). Aftermarket parts are starting to see a decline in supply but still you can find just about everything you want aftermarket for these cars (ask me how much of my car is still stock...it's a short list).
Performance. The LNF engine in the Redline was GM's first direct injected engine. While there are better engines out there today, for 2007 and it's size, it's a very powerful engine. With a simple tune, 300 bhp is easily achievable...and this in a car that weighs just at 3,000 lbs. Handling is very good as the suspension is basically a scaled down version of what you'd find on a Corvette. While there is always room for improvement, in the stock trim a Redline is a very good performance value for the money you'll spend to own one.
Looks. The Sky (and Solstice but to a bit of a lessor degree because for some reason it is more well known) is still, to this day, an amazing looking car and most people have no clue what it is. I've had owners of half a million dollar Ferraris slow down on the freeway and cruise around the car looking at it. Get ready for the "THAT'S a Saturn!? That's a SATURN?! THAT'S a SATURN!????" comments because no one knows Saturn sold this car. Except for what I call the "Football Skin" plastic found in most of the interior, the car just hasn't aged. the design still looks contemporary. I love the way it looks behind the wheel to look out over that big hood or over your shoulder and see those big humps behind the seats. Just a sharp looking car.
That's about all I can think of at the moment...hope this helps.