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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everybody,
my name's Sebastian, and I'm a college student who isn't much into cars but I was looking into upgrading my beat up car and looking for something affordable but nice and with some personality. Lord did I find that with the Solstice. I have actually fell in love with the car and have been searching for one non stop since then. Not only that I am now looking at dash kits and mods and other things completely out of my character. I really think this car is the first one I could imagine not only owning, but like really wanting to make it a personal project and put some money into it over time.

I've narrowed it down to two options and I was hoping for some guidance and advice.

Option 1 is an almost perfect condition 2007 base model, pearl grey with tan interior. 130k Miles, automatic
listed at 7.5k I think I could bring it down to 7k maybe 6.5k if I pay in cash.
Gear shift Speedometer Vehicle Motor vehicle Trip computer

I love this look and this style. I'd likely still explore dash kits for the plastic console if it's as not to my liking. But other then that I would be more then happy with the car as is.

Option 2 is a black GXP model. Interior pictured below. 96k miles, automatic
8k starting. was offered to me for 7k, I believe I can bring it down to 6.5k even 6k if its in cash.
Hood Car Vehicle Car seat cover Steering wheel

Here is the catch. It has a valve timing issue that will require fixing, smokes white smoke on startup for a minute or so. with a little water but it isnt coolant as the car can run for hours without any signs of overheating and smoke doesn't smell like oil. I talked to a transmission/engine shop and they said I was looking at 1.5k on the low end and 3.5k on the high end. Unsure if its the actuator of timing chain but there is no rattling and is likely just the actuators from having the engine guy ask the shop about its condition.
Last thing is I'm not a huge fan of the interior and would likely want to replace everything as I really love the color scheme of the top model.

Basically, if the bottom one wasn't a GXP I would definitely go with the top base model. But part of me thinks I should buy the GXP fix her up, then rework the interior. My logic is the GXP has less miles, is more powerful (doesn't usually matter to me but if I'm going to get my first like project or sentimental car maybe I want that in the future), It could be resold in the future if I ever want likely for more. It also has all the mechanical improvements that come with GXP and I have heard they feel more premium.

So basically, do yall think I'm being foolish in feeling like if I choose the base model I'm missing out on getting a GXP at an insane price which I could turn into a proper little sports car.

How much would replacing the leather/black plastic of the GXP with the tan/grey scheme of the top.


I want a solstice bad, I just don't want to regret not getting the GXP and turning into a piece of personal work if that makes sense. At the same time, the top one is basically drive ready and the only cosmetic things I might do is a dash kit etc.
Also GXP looks slightly better on the front of the car.

I don't know yall help me out here. Sorry for the insane length of this post.
 

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2008 Pontiac Solstice GXP
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If you like acceleration and like to have spirited drives get the GXP. don't bother with the 2 tone as the tan get dirty exceedingly fast and it also shows wear a lot faster as well.

If you are working with a budget and the budget is not allowing you to get a low mile GXP (<50,000 miles) get a base model but get a 2006 or a 2007 that has a manufacture date in 2006. You can find the manufacture date on the FMVSS certificate sticker in the driver door jamb. The date will be on the upper right hand corner of the sticker.

The 2006 and early 2007 base model engines were built with forged components inside them so you can add a turbo and get upwards of 450 bhp out of the car without damaging anything. If you get a base model that was built in 2007 or later you can still get a turbo but you will be limited to about 300bhp. adding a turbo to a base model runs about 3,000.00 for the kit without installation. The GXPs are built with forged internals and they can also get to the 450bhp mark with upgrading the turbo.


The GXP also has a tighter suspension. The parts that make the GXP suspension tighter can be purchased and installed into the base model. Personally I thing the nose of the GXP looks better and you can also change the nose of the car if you like the GXP nose better but bought a base model.

This is the endgame. I can tell you have not driven a GXP. go and test drive one, if you haven't driven a base model go and test drive one of those as well. I would suggest you get a manual transmission as it enhances the whole driving experience. They are easier to sell and have better retention of value.

If you do not know how to drive a manual transmission there is no better time to learn then now. It's not hard to do. I have found that explaining what is happening mechanically with a standard transmission makes it far easier to learn how to drive one. finding a large parking lot where there is nothing to hit is suggested. I would be more then happy to explain the mechanical process of driving a standard transmission vehicle to you. I have taught many people how to drive one and it has never taken more then a hour to do.
 
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If you really want the 2 tone it is not that hard to do an most if it you can do yourself. You can have the seat skins changed by a local laundry mat that does repairs to clothing. they will typically do it the cheapest and I have found the quality is no different then a specialized auto upholstery shop that charges 20 times more.
 

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The thing I do not like about the stock 2 tone is it isn't 2 tone. it is 3 tone. black, gray and tan. The gray looks out of place and clashes with the tan. Those parts should have been left black and it would look a million times better.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
If you really want the 2 tone it is not that hard to do an most if it you can do yourself. You can have the seat skins changed by a local laundry mat that does repairs to clothing. they will typically do it the cheapest and I have found the quality is no different then a specialized auto upholstery shop that charges 20 times more.
Where can I find the 2 tone parts for the dash, specifically the tan parts like the glove boxes and parts surrounding the black. I could only really find dask kits and stuff to replace the black parts of the dash so I was worried I wouldn't be able to find the pieces for it. Generally what am I looking at for those tan parts.


The thing I do not like about the stock 2 tone is it isn't 2 tone. it is 3 tone. black, gray and tan. The gray looks out of place and clashes with the tan. Those parts should have been left black and it would look a million times better.
I was thinking of replacing the black parts with a dask kit so it would be just be grey tan and then dashkit I decide. I really like the door colors more so then the black.

Also I am not going to lie I think I like the pearl grey exterior better since it feels more like me but I be willing to wrap it anyways in the future with something special anyways so its not too big of a deal for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Here is a link to a photo that I made up where the interior is black and tan.

Oh wow you instantly made me eat my words. That is really nice. I think if you replaced the black seats with grey to match doors it might also produce a proper 2 light tone look without any black. But only black and tan looks honestly way better then expected and I would not be mad with at all
 

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Where can I find the 2 tone parts for the dash, specifically the tan parts like the glove boxes and parts surrounding the black. I could only really find dask kits and stuff to replace the black parts of the dash so I was worried I wouldn't be able to find the pieces for it. Generally what am I looking at for those tan parts.




I was thinking of replacing the black parts with a dask kit so it would be just be grey tan and then dashkit I decide. I really like the door colors more so then the black.

Also I am not going to lie I think I like the pearl grey exterior better since it feels more like me but I be willing to wrap it anyways in the future with something special anyways so its not too big of a deal for me.
Junkyards. Good luck.
I will refrain from further comment, since John thinks I'm too "negative. "
 

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It looks like you have your heart set on a Solstice (who can blame you) but there are a few questions to answer... what part of the country are you in - will it be your daily driver/only car - if your budget limits you to a high mileage (over 100K) car, what are your mechanical skills and tool collection like - do you have a place to work on it? These cars can be a bit more fussy than a Honda or Toyota, especially the GXP. Any car that you look at, ask about waterpump and/or timing chain replacement. Good luck on your search and remember that there is plenty of great info on this forum. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
This is the endgame. I can tell you have not driven a GXP. go and test drive one, if you haven't driven a base model go and test drive one of those as well. I would suggest you get a manual transmission as it enhances the whole driving experience. They are easier to sell and have better retention of value.

If you do not know how to drive a manual transmission there is no better time to learn then now. It's not hard to do. I have found that explaining what is happening mechanically with a standard transmission makes it far easier to learn how to drive one. finding a large parking lot where there is nothing to hit is suggested. I would be more then happy to explain the mechanical process of driving a standard transmission vehicle to you. I have taught many people how to drive one and it has never taken more then a hour to do.

No Idea how I missed this comment until now. Super helpful to think about. Honestly, I've never been one for spirited drives or a lot of acceleration, but partially feel like if I'm going to get a sporty looking car, might as well have the extra 100 hp, and I feel like I'm going to want more power in the future. And yea you are likely right about the tan, will take into consideration. I struggle to imagine a world where I'll want anything more then 250hp but again this car is making me flirt with the idea as I really think it'll make me enjoy driving. Also I have no idea how to drive manual but am open to learning. Please do explain the mechanical process, I agree that helps understanding a lot as it can be intimidating coming from automatic.

So in general would you say I should stay away from this specific GXP? on the surface to me it seemed like a steal to get a GXP for best case lets say 6k cash and only having to spend lets say 1.5k in repairs. But honestly I lack good frames of reference.

Also I have forgotten to mention, these cars are all out of my area. So as far as test driving goes, I am considering just finding some locally at dealer to test drive but I'd feel slightly bad about having no intention to purchase from them and asking for a test drive lol. But yea you are likely right best way to know is to see how much the drive actually makes a difference for me between the two.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
It looks like you have your heart set on a Solstice (who can blame you) but there are a few questions to answer... what part of the country are you in - will it be your daily driver/only car - if your budget limits you to a high mileage (over 100K) car, what are your mechanical skills and tool collection like - do you have a place to work on it? These cars can be a bit more fussy than a Honda or Toyota, especially the GXP. Any car that you look at, ask about waterpump and/or timing chain replacement. Good luck on your search and remember that there is plenty of great info on this forum. ;)

I am in Houston, Texas, I do want it to be my daily car. I likely am gonna keep my Toyota matrix as it doesn't have my trade in value and just keep it at my dads. My mechanical skills are relatively basic but I'm surely above the average kid my age lol, I am definitely not intimidated by working on it and consider myself pretty proficient at learning and understanding what's going on mechanically if I try. I worked as shop hand and helper for my dad who owns a car repair and body shop, so I've been around it and done the basic like oil changes and like brake pad replacements etc. tools are all covered. I would work on at my dads shop or garage.

My budget is on the lower end. please reference the college student line hahaha, but If I get from a dealer I could finance though would prefer to keep it in the cash range for me. For the right car and depending on what yall recommend I would explore higher price ranges. But given I'm in the perfect context to work on a car i dont feel bad getting something i need to work on.
 

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2008 Pontiac Solstice GXP - Mysterious
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Personally I would be hesitant on buying a high mileage car and then attempting to add power.

Especially if you are not a “wrencher” and have access to a decent amount of tools.

Money or repairing cars of this age are “mostly” going to revolve around labor costs.

A great example is the water pump. Known to be semi common issue (perhaps more so on a GXP though I haven’t seen any data to back that up).

The parts are the cost of coolant, gaskets and the pump and specialty tool $100-$200. Labor? Could be a $1000 or more depending on your mechanic..

Of course, if you are interested in learning how to work on a car, you can save the labor but that assumes you have the time and the tools to do the job.

If by “car guy” you mean a guy that is just into his car, and wrenching is not on the menu.. ANY 12-15 year old car should come with at least some maintenance monies in servicing and repairs in your budget.

Also the daily driver question… if you know you are going to plan for service on this old of a vehicle, does your lifestyle support being without a car for a week or two at a pop?

Also, if you are not a mechanic nor interested in that side of car ownership, do you have a mechanic you can trust to work on a car from a defunct Division of GM that is over a decade old?

Parts, especially body parts that are not shared with other vehicles are becoming scarcer and more expensive all the time. So changing things like interior panels for different colors can be an exercise in patience as generally that stuff is more and more likely to have to come from a parts car.

I love this car but I knew what I was getting into and I am a hobby wrencher with a decent amount of tools and even with that spent a long time finding a low miles example as I bought it to drive it. The extra money for the lower miles up front may pay off in less service visits and more years of fun before big $$$ work comes along.

At 90K miles I would expect these to be on your horizon from a budget planning perspective: (assuming this work wasn’t done recently before you bought the car)
-Battery - fender has to come off to replace it
-Tires (are they worn or worse old and rotting)
-Thermostat (again cheap part / much labor)
-sensors - MAF/MAP (GXP) 02 sensors
-Catalytic Converter (that’s a fun job on the GXP)
-vacuum system (rubber hoses can crack or rot)
-Fluid change (coolant “should” be replaced via a vacuum system)
-spark plugs
-coils
-brakes / possibly rotors
-water pump
-Turbo
-Timing Chain
-Valves / Head (especially if she is already smoking)

Not saying those things have to, or will need to be replaced, but at high miles, they are all possibilities that you may want to factor into “cost of ownership”.

As mentioned above the water pump alone could run you $1200. Then your $7000 dream car is now $8200. Tack on a set of “mild” performance tires and you are at $9K.

Any of a number of the other items above and you are quickly closing on $10k.

I guess that’s a long way to say be careful on the money you are “saving” on a high mileage car.
Long term cost of ownership should definitely factor into your decision…
 

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PS> your post came through while I was writing mine.
Apologies you seem to have access to tools and no fear of using them :)

This is a great car to wrench on. Specially if you are keeping the Toyota as that takes any pressure off of you to rush a repair.
 

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Maybe not specifically the smoking GXP car you mentioned but the extra 100hp between the GXP and the base Solstice is nothing to sneeze at.
Plus the additional stock FE3 suspension and it’s a pretty amazing deal versus upgrading a base to get to the GXP level.
There are some pretty easily obtained additional ponies with a tune as well on a GXP.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
PS> your post came through while I was writing mine.
Apologies you seem to have access to tools and no fear of using them :)

This is a great car to wrench on. Specially if you are keeping the Toyota as that takes any pressure off of you to rush a repair.
No apologies needed, definitely great advice to keep in mind. I am definitely willing to learn anything I need to save on the labor costs.

Amazing help with that long comment. Give me the worst case or like high end cost scenario If I do decide to take this on myself and wrench it myself without labor costs. Would you guess if done personally I could keep the costs for repair and interior at a range that it would make sense to pick up the 96k mile GXP. Or would you just personally recommend me being better off wrenching on a base model and adding power later if I so choose. Presently horse power is not an uber concern for me, but I feel like with the GXP I know if it ever does become a concern, I won't be as in a rush to upgrade and will have the benefits of not having to work on the suspension etc on a base model in the future.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Maybe not specifically the smoking GXP car you mentioned but the extra 100hp between the GXP and the base Solstice is nothing to sneeze at.
Plus the additional stock FE3 suspension and it’s a pretty amazing deal versus upgrading a base to get to the GXP level.
There are some pretty easily obtained additional ponies with a tune as well on a GXP.
Ok to defend the smoking GXP for a moment. They drove it just fine for hours without issues, apparently it runs well. They think its water in the catalytic converter and the engine/transmission guy I spoke to didn't sound all too worried about it hahaha. I mean this dealership has had this car there for almost half a year. I think I might be foolish and go out to check out the car and take a scanner to get the codes and see just how its doing lol. Outside its basically perfect. And if its truly as bad an idea. I could just lowball the dealer some more. At some price point getting that GXP makes sense if im willing to put in the labor no?

If you cant tell this this is partly me coping with the fact a proper GXP is gonna start in five digits. Closest one I could find was this one just now browsing some more browsing.
 

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Tough call. Smoke is never a good sign and unless you are sure of the cause it could go either way from something relatively minor al the way to an engine replacement.

I personally wouldn’t touch it with someone else’s money without knowing the cause. Especially as I believe you mentioned it isn’t close by?

Your dad owns a shop, what is he telling you?

There are a lot of pitfalls to an N/A from an upgrade path perspective as well. KG mentioned the forged internals on the earlier ones which is spot on advice.
Then again there is a different soft too that was on the early convertibles which makes it even scarcer.
Also there were differential issues, I mean the list goes on.

Just my opinion but I would hold out for a GXP that isn’t exhibiting obvious issues upfront….
 

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2008 Pontiac Solstice GXP - Mysterious
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Tough call. Smoke is never a good sign and unless you are sure of the cause it could go either way from something relatively minor al the way to an engine replacement.

I personally wouldn’t touch it with someone else’s money without knowing the cause. Especially as I believe you mentioned it isn’t close by?

Your dad owns a shop, what is he telling you?

There are a lot of pitfalls to an N/A from an upgrade path perspective as well. KG mentioned the forged internals on the earlier ones which is spot on advice.
Then again there is a different soft too that was on the early convertibles which makes it even scarcer.
Also there were differential issues, I mean the list goes on.

Just my opinion but I would hold out for a GXP that isn’t exhibiting obvious issues upfront….
Also never trust a dealership. And NEVER trust a used car dealership when they tell you it “runs fine” and just a little smoke.
That deal has red flags all over it.

Maybe save up a bit longer? Or just be patient and keep looking. I looked for almost a year online every day and finally found my baby in Montana.
It had what I wanted in everything but color. (I like black cars to look at, not to wash)

This car isn’t that rare that you shouldn’t be able to hold out for something mechanically sound. Your dad owns a body shop so the exterior should be the least of your concerns.

Hell fixing a couple dings will be a hell of a lot easier for your situation than replacing a head (assuming your dad will hook you up on the bodywork)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Tough call. Smoke is never a good sign and unless you are sure of the cause it could go either way from something relatively minor al the way to an engine replacement.

I personally wouldn’t touch it with someone else’s money without knowing the cause. Especially as I believe you mentioned it isn’t close by?

Your dad owns a shop, what is he telling you?

There are a lot of pitfalls to an N/A from an upgrade path perspective as well. KG mentioned the forged internals on the earlier ones which is spot on advice.
Then again there is a different soft too that was on the early convertibles which makes it even scarcer.
Also there were differential issues, I mean the list goes on.

Just my opinion but I would hold out for a GXP that isn’t exhibiting obvious issues upfront….
Exactly on the upgrade path, my logic with the GXP is it could save me alot of quality of life stuff in the future if I can deal with the engine

The GXP I could buy in cash because its cheap enough. Also it only smokes for a short period before operating normally, no rattling either. I think I'm going to call the dealership tomorrow and see if they can provide me the codes for the valve timing issue and/or determine the cause of smoking at a local mechanic. If they would agree to like get that diagnosed I think I would feel comfortable committing to it to fixing it. I was previously considering just taking the trip to go see it and taking it to a local mechanic there myself to find out what's up with it myself. Worse case I buy an $80 dollar plane ticket back.

My dad, well you see, hahaha, my dad is insanely suspicious of my out of character like interest in a car, so like I think he thinks that I'm likely getting in over my head and is telling me I should likely buy something that doesn't need work done, he doesnt do some internal engine stuff like valve timing actuators, so his definitely wary on any work he doesn't do I think. At the same time his willing to give me like the space and chance to do it if I want to do it. His a big big big car guy with his sports cars so I lowkey think he knows that if I am serious that this could be something really like cool for me and a like I think he would feel pretty good about me if I took wrenching a car for real. I also called the local engine specialist shop we have like next door, and he didnt sound as worried about the situation, his only concern was if it was the timing belt or not. He characterized actuator issues as not as to substantial either. In regards to the smoking the engine guy wasnt as worried after I said there was a lack of oill smell and it was white smoke that lasted about 30-90 seconds after start up. He seemed more concerned about the state of the timingchain
 
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