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http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/content/1128042544304725557/

30 September 2005
By Bob Elton

The 1953 AC Ace.

Anyone remember the AC Ace? It was a nicely balanced British sports car with a space-frame chassis, four-wheel independent suspension, aluminum body panels, a high-revving four-cylinder powerplant and perfect weight distribution. Car magazines of the day raved about the machine’s ideal blend of performance and handling. And yet the delightful little Ace has disappeared into that special memory space reserved for die-hard Anglophile automobilists. Blame the snake.

When the Chevrolet Corvette started cleaning the Mustang’s clock in the ‘60’s, a Ford man named Carroll Shelby went and stuffed a big old V8 under the hood of the AC Ace and re-badged it a Cobra. The resulting sports car brought fame and fortune to both man and machine, on track and off. Forty-years later, Shelby is still trading on the reputation generated by his modified two-seater. Forty years later, companies are still fabricating Cobra replicas in their thousands. Forty years later, the Cobra is still burnishing Ford's image. Needless to say, nobody worships the well-balanced little sports car that gave birth to a legend.
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The Pontiac Solstice

Fast forward some 40 years and check out the new Pontiac Solstice roadster. Like the original Ace, or the current Mazda MX5 (nee Miata), the Solstice is a small, attractive, well-balanced sports car. The consensus among the buff books is that the four-cylinder Solstice can compete on most levels with the equally-cylindered MX5-- which is quite an achievement for a box-fresh challenger. But it’s not good enough. The Solstice needs a V8.

Peppy as it is, the Pontiac Solstice can still be shut down by an old guy in a Lincoln. And the old guy won't even have to know how to shift gears. While some enthusiasts will undoubtedly guard and revere the Solstice as a perfectly-balanced purists’ pleasure, when it comes to weekend automobiles, the majority of the great American motoring community prefers muscle. Always has. Always will.
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GM's LS4 5.3-liter V8

A Solstice V8 is perfectly doable. GM produces the world's best, most powerful and compact range of V8 engines. Their pushrod design ensures that the powerplants would fit into virtually any car carrying a four. In aluminum-block form, GM’s small block V8 weighs less than a hundred pounds more than the Solstice four. Because of the smoother power delivery from the V8, very little extra stress would be placed on the Solstice's driveline. If any components couldn't handle the extra power, GM could source the appropriate parts from a Corvette, light truck or SUV.

With a simple engine transplant, the Solstice would be transformed from a capable plaything to a legendary road rocket. Instead of a 2860lbs. roadster with 177hp, the Solstice V8 would be a 3000lbs. roadster with 400hp. That's enough horsepower per pound to place the Solstice smack dab in the middle of supercar territory. Leave off the AC and power windows, and the power-to-weight ratio would be even more stunning. As a "club sport" model, the Solstice could go head to head with Porsche in SCCA racing. Has anyone imagined a Pontiac that could compete with a Porsche? Ever?
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Who will build the next Cobra?

The media buzz generated by a V8 Solstice would be tremendous. The buff books would go crazy. The comparison tests would write themselves. If the exterior changes were kept to a minimum, the sales of the four-cylinder Solstices would be benefit. A V8 Solstice would also provide a proper halo for GM in general, at a fraction of the Ford GT's cost. And that old geezer in the Lincoln could no longer be certain he could out-drag the Solstice next to him at the light.

It’s worth noting that Ford, inheritor of the Cobra mystique, almost made the Miata into a latter day Shelby Cobra several times. In the mid to late ‘90s, several product developers were inspired by the Miata’s aftermarket installations to investigate the possibities of shoe-horing a V8 into the Japanese roadster. There are credible rumors of a secret prototype. But Ford management discontinued the 5.0-liter V8 in favor of the underperforming, overweight 4.6-liter V8, and demoted some of the managers who persisted in pursuing the project.

Ford missed their chance to make a modern Cobra. Will GM seize this missed opportunity? Not according to GM’s car czar, Bob Lutz: “No question, somebody, somewhere will fit a small-block V-8 in here, but we won't be doing it. This car was designed to have a four-cylinder engine." While our spies report that a turbo-charged Solstice GXP is on its way, which will be hotter than the EcoTec 4, it's no small block V8. It just won’t be the same. Anyone who’s heard the burble, snarl and pop of a V8-engined Cobra, or one of its better replicants, will tell you: there ain’t nothing like the real thing.
 

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Ok, Skycaptain, now we know your REAL name! :lol:

Mr. Elton...

J/K. The article makes some very good points. However, predecting a "legendary" car is anything but predectable.
 

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That was long long ago in a Galaxy far far away.

Why would anybody buy a V8 Solstice from GM when they already have the Z06?
 

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Well maybe Mallett with his V8 LS2 conversion will go down like Mr. Shelby and his AC Cobra, will just have to wait for the unveiling at SEMA.
 

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I thought this Mallet guy was going to do an LS2 installation as soon as he can get a car to his shop? I thought he was loosely affiliated with GM. Isn't he doing basically what Shellby did in the '60s? When will folks stop going on about V8 Solstices? You want a V8 Solstice, call this Mallet guy. He'll do it for about $15k I think. Others here will have better details. I'm totaly happy with the four, like many nameless unknown owners where probably happy with thier Aces back in the day.
 

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Mallet is already doing this. The small block V8 weighs 100 pounds more than the 4 banger (amazing).

Anyone have any idea why the Solstice only has a 350# weight limit? What would have to be done to bump that up to take a larger engine and carry two husky passengers?
 

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AeroDave said:
I thought this Mallet guy was going to do an LS2 installation as soon as he can get a car to his shop? I thought he was loosely affiliated with GM. Isn't he doing basically what Shellby did in the '60s? When will folks stop going on about V8 Solstices? You want a V8 Solstice, call this Mallet guy. He'll do it for about $15k I think. Others here will have better details. I'm totaly happy with the four, like many nameless unknown owners where probably happy with thier Aces back in the day.
Mallett is doing a V8 Solstice. He has taken delivery of a first 1000 Solstice to do the work on. That is all there is to the story. No affiliations, etc.
 

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Fformula88 said:
Mallett is doing a V8 Solstice. He has taken delivery of a first 1000 Solstice to do the work on. That is all there is to the story. No affiliations, etc.
I thought he was doing one for Terpfan already?
 

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I remember the AC Aceca. One of it's early powerplants was the sub 2000cc Bristol airplane engine. Then....along came brother Shelby.
 

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This article demostrates the passion I myself feel about the Solstice and Sky vehicles. As Mr. Lutz stated, "Someone will put a V8 in it" and I'm looking forward to getting my first experience with one this October. Stay tuned for my reports on the V8 Solstice coming soon.
 

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hughfwolfe said:
But it’s not good enough. The Solstice needs a V8."
Good enough for what? Sell alot of units? Think they're doing OK. Give people driving pleasure? I think if you read the reviews from anyone who has actually driven one or owns one, you'll find over 95% of us are thrilled. Get people to go to Pontiac dealers? (the real purpose of the Solstice) Trust me, they're heading there now. Showcase how GM can get it right sometimes, and Bob Lutz's leadership capabilities? I think the majority of reviews thus far and the reactions I get from folks so far speak volumes.

Is it because it's American that it needs a V8? Funny the way you don't hear to much about Porsche V8 conversions. Why not a Ford or Dodge V10? That would be two more. The Solstice does need more power to satisfy some customers I'll agree, and I'm sure it will get more in the future, but I really don't think it needs a V8.
 

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funkywinkerbean said:
Does that mean you will drop a Corvette motor in one - or that you will be the first Mallett customer?

Working person's Cobra!
Check his previous posts as he took delivery of his Sol and immediately road drove to Mallett where it is now under the knife. I know ongoing pics would have been great of the procedure, but since this IS the first and many parts will be fabricated and refabricated to complete the task and to be able to repeat the process I can understand the secrecy.

BTW the AC Ace was an adequate, little known UK roadster until a certain Texas chicken farmer/chil cook got hold of one. C.S originally wanted something on the lines of a vette motor but GM ended up not being interested and the rest they say is history unfolding.
 

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I agree!
 

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I think that IF GM ever did do a V8 version and offered it for sale, the press would eventually pick it to pieces, and would go down in history as GM trying to "force" a classic.

Or everyone would just keep bitching about how little storage space there is. Or that it's a Pontiac (or a Saturn, if they did it with the Sky), or a million other things.

Just how much is one worth? I'm not so sure GM would be able to ask $38,000 for one (about what it takes to buy a Solstice and give it to Mallett to convert).

GM has a purebred race-tech car with decent styling, 31XX lbs, holds two sets of golf clubs, and does under 7:40 at the Nurburgring. It's called the C6 Z06.

I understand the author's thinking that this "could" be the next Cobra, but I hardly think that just because Mallett, or Shelby, or whoever stuffs a V8 into the car and sells a few to a hundred of them a year, that the Solstice/Sky/Kappa will just fade away into obscurity like the '53 Ace.
 

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"Wow cool! A 3000lb GM roadster with a 400hp V8?... wait don't they call that a Corvette?"
Exactly!!! What's the point? It won't be any faster than a Vette.
TheTruthAboutCars is a dyed-in-the-wool propagandist and anti GM soapbox speaker named Farago who misleads (or simply lies). He thinks GM is the only manufacturer that produces several cars off the same platform. He's
thinks GM has the lowest reliability scores (they are second only to Toyota),
indicating that he stopped learning anything new 20 years ago.
Very opinionated (considers himself the authority on what's attractive).
You know that anyone who names their site "TheTruthAbout..." is a moron,
right off the bat.
 

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solsticeman said:
I understand the author's thinking that this "could" be the next Cobra, but I hardly think that just because Mallett, or Shelby, or whoever stuffs a V8 into the car and sells a few to a hundred of them a year, that the Solstice/Sky/Kappa will just fade away into obscurity like the '53 Ace.
To paraphrase a famous quote, "i've seen an Edsel, and this ain't no Edsel!"

;)
 
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