Article from Palm Beach, FL paper on Solstice. Ties in with Kendra winner of the Apprentice from that area. Confirms that Kendra was driving a prototype Solstice the night of her winning :yesnod:
Vrrrroomy Solstice won't be zooming soon
By Thom Smith
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 29, 2005
"Kendra, you're hired." Now hit the road.
Imagine all the thoughts racing through Kendra Todd's head as Donald Trump gave the young, aggressive entrepreneur the green light to a career in big business. But before the Boynton Beach real estate agent could gather her wits, she was being sent into the street — for a ride in her new car.
Kendra jumped into her futuristic Pontiac Solstice, which she received as a prize for winning The Apprentice, fired it up, threw it into first and roared away into the New York night.
What a car. It's a two-seater convertible, with a rumbly 177-horsepower engine and five-speed transmission and tons of attitude, from a rounded nose reminiscent of old Indy racers to the Batmobile-style fairings
trailing from the headrests to the clamshell trunk. Lightweight and compact, but large enough for 6-footers plus. Zero to 60 in a sneeze. Make that a screech!
That wasn't really Kendra's car. It was a prototype. She'll get one, but not until fall at the earliest, when 37 others who already have placed orders are hoping to drive away from Schumacher Pontiac in West Palm Beach in a new Solstice.
The wait is no big deal for Kendra, because she'll spend most of the summer in New York learning the Trump Million Methodology. When she visits Boynton, she still has her '97 Infiniti to cruise around in.
"The Solstice won't even be released until October or November. If we're lucky, we may get some here in September," said Tim Jacques, Schumacher's sales manager.
Pontiac, which has enjoyed a lot of keen marketing recently — first with Oprah's giveaway of G6 sedans, then with Trump's apprentices in training — is banking on more than looks. Pontiac is breaking rules by offering a sleek machine at prices more accessible than other comparable models. A base model Solstice will cost $19,995 or about $25,000 loaded. Some have dubbed it the "Miata killer."
An old car buff from Michigan whose family has been in the automobile business for decades, Jacques wishes he had the new Solstice "yesterday." And the buzz isn't coming a moment too soon for Pontiac, where the last two-seater, the anemic Fiero, died ignominiously after a brief five-year run in the late '80s.
First, however, the dealers have to get them. Pontiac believes the market can handle only about 20,000 units, which is in the same range as the Mazda, the Honda 2000 and the BMW Z4. Jacques, who believes it'll be perfect for South Florida, has 37 orders already, but Pontiac has promised him only 12 cars for the first three months.
"We have an arrangement with the first buyer to let us keep it on the showroom floor for a month after it comes in," Jacques said, adding that he's already negotiating with Northern dealers to take their allotments. "The rest of the country will be under snow. They won't be selling many roadsters. If I can get an extra 100 cars, I'll take 'em."
But when they'll actually arrive is anyone's guess. Production delays have forced Pontiac to concede that only about 6,000 Solstices will make it to dealers by year's end. Reports have leaked from the production line of problems with the fit of the front bumper and the soft top.
Pontiac's vehicle line executive for Solstice, Lori Queen, was blunt when she told the Chicago Tribune, "We haven't committed to a production date as yet."
If General Motors can get the Solstice out by year's end, it will be a remarkable accomplishment. New cars aren't designed and built overnight. Most of today's new models were conceived before the new millennium arrived. Five years from concept to reality is considered supersonic in the automobile industry. The Solstice, by comparison, may take only half that time.
"It's unheard of at GM," Jacques said, attributing the fast pace to Switzerland-born Bob Lutz, who had a stint at BMW, played with Exide batteries for a while, stopped off at Ford, then revved up Chrysler with the Viper and Prowler. He is now GM's vice chairman in charge of product development.
Lutz has the unenviable task of returning the company to world dominance. It's not an easy job, but GM, in fact, all of Detroit, hope the Solstice will lead a new charge against the Far East and Europe.
And at least a few dozen South Floridians, and one Apprentice — all awaiting shiny new cars — hope that charge comes sooner than later.