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First 2000 Sr. Member
3,491 Posts
Yeah, I KNOW!

I was devastated when they abandoned that look for the lines of the current car! I mean, that was DISTINCTIVE! And, it was SKY BLUE, too!

I had to settle for this current version and all those stupid comments, "Is that really a Saturn?" "It looks like a baby 'vette." "Wow - is that a Viper?"

*sigh* Life is so hard sometimes...

1st Known SKY RedLine Owner!
1,012 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I probably wouldn't have looked twice, if thats what the production car looked like. I didn't know there was a concept since that long ago. Matter of fact i didn't even know there was a SKY until i went to buy a solstice and the dealer wanted 5k over sticker. By pure luck the next day i took a detour to work and happened to pass by a saturn dealer, so glad i did!

1,129 Posts
Pitcom said:
Just stumbled across some old concept pics of the Sky from the 2002 Chicago auto show. Here's the link..
That is hilarious. The posing of that car just like they do the real Sky of today almost makes it even funnier looking. I think the smurf blue should have been an option....."NNNNNOOOOOOTTTTTT"....

It reminds me of looking at an old picture of yourself dressed in funny out of style clothes and sporting an out of style hairdoo!!!:lol: :lol:

342 Posts
More concepts & history:

The NEW Grey

Despite GM's financial woes of late, they have brought about a new vigor to the automotive market, sport compact in particular. The KAPPA platform has revitalized the imaginations of auto designers and manufacturers eager to introduce new concepts to market inspired by classic roadsters and coupes.

The Kappa architecture started life as GM's heavily modified Delta platform. The challenge in this transformation was to turn a front wheel driver to a convertible that puts the power down at the rear wheels. Pontiac saw amazing success with their Solstice show car in 2002, which sent GM execs and engineers into a frenzy to create a rear wheel drive platform that would support small production numbers and even smaller sticker prices (sub $20,000 range), while pushing costs at a minimum.

Enter the Kappa.

The small Kappa Architecture features full-length hydroformed frame rails and a stamped steel structural tunnel to provide a solid structure. Designed to run a 2800 pound or less vehicle with space for the Ecotec brand of hi-tech four cylinder engines and rear-wheel drive, the chassis was beefed up for convertible stability.

GM's Release

Twenty-seven months could be considered overnight when it comes to developing a new vehicle architecture, and that's how long it took a team of enthusiastic engineers to develop the rear-wheel-drive platform for the Pontiac Solstice - a concept-to-reality sports car coming in 2005.

The new Kappa architecture is the foundation for the Solstice production model as well as several exciting concept vehicles that demonstrate its adaptability. GM introduced the Solstice production model, as well as the Chevrolet Nomad and Saturn Curve concepts, at the 2004 North American International Auto Show. In addition to sharing the Kappa architecture, the concept vehicles reflect GM's global design and engineering resources. With cultural backgrounds from many corners of the world, designers came together at GM's Advanced Design Studio in Great Britain, as well as GM Europe's Advanced Design Studio in Sweden to collaborate on the concept vehicles' designs. Italian coachbuilder Pininfarina also helped assemble them.

"These vehicles have global appeal that translate well in any language," said Anne Asensio, executive director, Advanced Vehicles. "From the shape of the bodywork to the colors and interior materials, they each represent contemporary design."

Starting from Scratch

The impetus for the Kappa architecture's world-class platform was the Pontiac Solstice. A strong response to the 2002 Solstice concept car helped green-light the vehicle for production even though a compact rear-wheel-drive platform for it did not exist. A core team of engineers was assigned to develop one - and quickly. This efficient team collaborated globally to develop a flexible platform that would enable future production work for a distinct set of GM brands.

"We knew from the start that we would do it right or not do it at all; the support for that decision came from the very top," said Lori Queen, vehicle line executive for GM's small cars. "It has been an experience whereby the size and strength of GM was mobilized on a global scale to get the job done immediately."

To maintain the Solstice concept's aggressive stance, the chassis was developed to support the vehicle's short overhangs, long wheelbase and wide stance. This "wheels at the corners" design enhances handling and the overall feeling of stability. It also allows for a more comfortable interior, with increased legroom and hip room.

To ensure the lithe proportions of the Solstice were complemented with a firm foundation, engineers developed a lower-dominant tube structure for the chassis. Hydroformed frame rails, which run the length of the vehicle, are the basis of the chassis, while additional stampings form a rigid structure onto which the bodywork is attached. The hydroforming process uses pressurized fluid to form each frame rail from a single piece of steel, rather than several pieces of steel welded together. This creates a stronger frame rail and requires less time to form it. Additional components and stampings are added to the frame rail during vehicle assembly. A tunnel at the center of the chassis, which houses the transmission and driveshaft, is enclosed at the bottom to enhance stiffness. This built-in strength reduces chassis flex and cowl shake in a vehicle designed from the outset as a convertible.

"Convertibles typically are less stiff than vehicles with a fixed roof, so we set out to create the stiffest possible platform for a vehicle this size," said Queen.

The Kappa architecture's rigid structure also permits more precision when it comes to tuning the suspension. The Solstice features independent, SLA-type suspensions in the front and rear, along with coil-over springs wrapped around Bilstein monotube shock absorbers. The short-long arm suspension designs feature forged aluminum upper and lower control arms that are both strong and lightweight. The rear suspension also features a toe control link and the rear differential housing has an optimized three-point mounting design.

The Kappa's suspension design and geometry are not shared with any other GM vehicle architecture.

The Solstice also features four-wheel disc brakes, including 11.7-inch ventilated front rotors and 10.6-inch rear rotors, which combine with optional ABS with Dynamic Rear Proportioning to provide superior stopping stability. Eighteen-inch wheels are standard.

Dynamics Perfected

In addition to the robust chassis architecture and suspension components, Kappa engineers sweated dynamic details to produce a world-class platform, including:

  • Near 50/50 weight distribution for a balanced handling feel
  • Hydraulic engine mounts to provide a smoother engine feel
  • Optimized acoustic barrier and sound absorption package to provide world-class levels of interior quietness
  • Exterior components, such as mirrors, wind-tunnel tested to minimize wind noise
  • Tires selected for handling performance and low noise.

The Kappa chassis also was designed for the all-aluminum Ecotec four-cylinder engine. In the Solstice, the 2.4-liter version of the sophisticated DOHC powerplant features twin balance shafts to reduce engine-sourced noise and vibration. Technologies including intake- and exhaust-cam phasing and electronic throttle control are employed to maximize volumetric efficiency, boosting the smoothness and performance of the engine throughout the rpm range.

Clear Mission
Development time and cost were reduced by leveraging existing GM components where possible. The Solstice's rear differential, for example, is borrowed from the Cadillac CTS. Other proven component selections also aided Kappa architecture's development time. "It makes sense to leverage proven parts that fit the application," said Queen. "The parts are adapted to the Kappa architecture and do not compromise the vehicle's design or function."
Knowledge that the Solstice would be offered with a version of the Ecotec four-cylinder engine allowed the chassis team to design for the specific powertrain from the project's start. Because the Ecotec engine had not previously been used in a longitudinal layout, several accessory drive components required redesign to fit the new chassis.
"Knowing these challenges at the beginning helped us design it right the first time," said Queen. "We had a very clear mission on how to proceed with the architecture's design."
Although the primary focus of the Kappa architecture was the development of the Solstice, its platform is adaptable - as demonstrated with the Chevrolet Nomad sport wagon and Saturn Curve 2+2 coupe concept vehicles. The Nomad rides on a longer wheelbase than the Solstice for added rear passenger room, while the expressive Saturn offers a sophisticated, performance-oriented driving experience with a fixed roof.
"The Kappa architecture is a great platform for sporty, driver-oriented applications around the globe," said Queen. "Two years ago it didn't exist, but as the other concepts show, the additional possibilities are tantalizing."
Source: General Motors

First out the Gate

The 2006 Pontiac Solstice is the first production car to use the Kappa platform. Production started last summer (2005) at the old Saturn L-Series plant in Wilmington, Delaware. Initially offered with a 2.4 liter 170 horsepower Ecotec engine and a close-ratio Aisin five-speed stick, the two place roadster should sticker for around $19,998. A GXP model is soon to be offered featuring a 260 horsepower turborcharged 2.0 liter Ecotec.

Giving Chase

The next car out the shoot is the Saturn Sky, aesthetics inspired by the Vauxhall Lightning. Billed as the harbinger of the "new face" of Saturn, the small coupe/vert will use the same 170hp Ecotec with a Red Line use of the Turbocharger.

The Vauxhall Lightning caused a swirl of excitement for audiences in Europe. It was a conceptual product for the next gen VX220, currently built by Lotus (Elise with an Ecotec!). Unfortunate for Europeans, due to the new 2005 pedestrian safety rules, forcing all automakers to incorporate "cushion zones" between the engine and the hood, the Lightning will probably never see production.

Third Model's a Charm

Opel GT

Details: From AutoBlog

The Geneva droptop rush shows no sign of abating. Yesterday Alfa Romeo released the first official images of its Spider, to be launched at the Swiss show. Today it’s Opel’s turn, for these are the first proper shots of the GT, its two-seater model.

Based on the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky, the new car will feature a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine producing around 260bhp. Opel is promising 0-62mph in ‘less than six seconds’ and a top speed of over 140mph.

The GT will be built in GM’s Delaware plant in the USA (alongside the Sky and Solstice) but there’s no word yet on whether Vauxhall will be importing its own version. If it does decide to bring the stylish GT to the UK, expect it to be left-hand drive only.

Concept Tease

The Austin Healey Concept

This actually looks fairly serious, folks. The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday that HFI, the British-American consortium that purchased the rights to the Healey name, may launch a new "Healey 3000" at this year's London Motor Show. Is that the new Healey above? Read on to find out why we think it might be...Meanwhile, icWales (via the Western Mail) revealed that HFI is considering a site near Cardiff "for production of an updated Austin Healey 3000." Warwick, England, is also being considered for the facility, which will employ up to 400. According to icWales, HFI paid in the neighborhood of $1.8 million to the Healey family for the rights to use the Healey name for the new car.

So, what will it look like? HFI managing director Paul Fenna is reported to have said that the new design would be instantly recognizable as a Healey, in the same way that BMW's MINI recalls the original.

We're wondering if HFI's Healey 3000 is based on the "Project Tempest" concept (pictured) of Prof. Krish Bhaskar, who led a failed bid for MG Rover, before the company was ultimately acquired by Nanjing Automobile. Professor Bashkar is the founder of the Motor Industry Research Unit, an automotive industry forecasting firm.

When information on Project Tempest was released in September 2005, Bashkar indicated that design of the car was "in an advanced stage" and that he was "currently in discussions with a number of potential partners, to re-establish a well-known brand from the heydey of the British motor industry."

Those Concepts

Chevy Nomad

The 2004 Concept, Chevy Nomad received negative reviews by show-gowers, but seems to have a enthusiast following of potential buyers.

Holden Torana

Released at the 2004 Australian Auto Show the Torana was based on an extended version of the rear-wheel drive Kappa platform, codenamed the TT36. Not only did the hot-pink show car sport Holden’s future styling, but it showed that an extended version of the Kappa is possible, and a V-6 will fit under the hood. Holden is expected to produce the Torana

Saturn Curve

Alongside the production Solstice was the Kappa-based Curve concept at the 2004 Detroit Auto Show. At the time the Curve was to represent a new design direction for Saturn, but since GM has decided that Saturn would get rebadged Opel products, that concept was basically worthless

Buick Bengal

The Buick Bengal was designed as a roadster, although it can have either two seats or four seats. This was one of the last attempts by General Motors to rejuvenate (literally) its Buick brand name, and give a new twist to convertibles.

Chevy BelAir

This is a now dead concept, some of us think that was a wise choice. "Chevrolet is revved up to lead this historic cruise that pays homage to our nation’s first transcontinental highway that spanned 2,448 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica," said Bill Beasley, marketing manager for Chevrolet in GM’s Western Region. "The festivities provide a fun-filled opportunity for Chevrolet to share one of its cool concept vehicles along with a host of hot new product with car lovers."

GM's Kappa Platform was based on the Y-body. The distinctive feature of both platforms is the backbone central tunneldesign.
Only two Y-body cars have been produced:

  • Cadillac XLR
  • Corvette
What do we think?
All models available or soon to be, are all winners. You can't lose with the Kappa. Affordable sport, fun, and style.

Sources - GM, MotorTrend, AutoBlog

342 Posts
One more:

2008 Chevy Stingray

Could this be considered a MINI-VETTE? Some insiders say yes.
GM is reportedly prepping a third Kappa-platform sports car under the Chevrolet Sting Ray name, according to the February 2006 issue of Motor Trend. Its target? The BMW Z4 and Porsche Cayman. "Like the Corvette, the Sting Ray would transcend GMs old divisional order," the article explains. If it gets the green light, the Sting Ray will be a well-equipped, high-spec model, priced "far above" the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky. which are also built on the Kappa architecture. The car is expected to come with a choice of engines, including a new V6, and possibly the same I4 GXP engine

234 Posts
The Curve was a nice car, the 2+2 will probably be available when they release KappaII(whenever that may be), and rumors have been Pontiac getting a Firebird around the size of the curve.

The Nomad would have been cool and sold well. The Torana was a sweet looking car, despite being pink! Alot of design cues are going to be on the next gen Holdens, and they will in turn end up in pontiac and buick too.

The Bel Air was no on kappa, rumor on this was GM was going to show a Camaro Concept, but at the last minute did the Bel Air instead...
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