2006 Mallett Pontiac Solstice

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2006 Mallett Pontiac Solstice

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Mallett Pontiac Solstice V8

Pontiac Solstice

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One might think cramming a small-block underhood would add a lot of mass to an otherwise svelt-ish Solstice (at 2860 pounds), but Mallett says its car weighs roughly 150 pounds mor

2006 Mallett Pontiac Solstice V8

The readout on the dashboard might have indicated 32 degrees F, but the wind tearing at our faces felt colder. Much colder. So when the radio guy announced a wind chill factor of just 10 degrees, we had no reason to doubt him.

Not exactly what one might consider ideal convertible weather, but the Mallett Solstice V8 isn't your everyday convertible, and a little arctic air wasn't going to keep us from at least getting a taste of the shiny black two-seater. Besides, snug within the confines of its cabin and with the heat cranked full tilt, it felt nearly 32. Nearly.

The car's last name tells the story, obviously, but only part of it. The V8 squeezed under the hood of this other-wise benign-looking Solstice is none other than the mighty LS2 sourced from the Chevrolet Corvette. And with almost 500 pounds less heft curbside than the bow-tied beast, the LS2's 400 horses and 395 lb-ft of torque make for one monstrously fast little roadster.

But lest you think the Mallett Solstice V8 is only about speed, think again: Throw a few cones in front of it and the car really comes to life.

To achieve such superior agility, the car is ballasted such that a 200-pound person sitting behind the wheel gives it perfect 50:50 lateral weight distribution. And with a full tank of gas, the weight split fore and aft is near that, at 52:48.

Achieving such good balance involved shoving the engine rearward to within millimeters of the tolerances set by GM for crash-worthiness. In fact, the LS2 sits so far back within the engine bay that you would be correct in calling the car a mid-engine vehicle.

While the ice and snow prevented us from seriously exploring the limits of the car's dexterity, we did get a sense of its power, which is more than enough to break the tires loose up to third gear. Indeed, putting the power down effectively and efficiently requires a judicious modulation of the throttle. Too much right pedal too quickly won't holeshot anyone, but it may win a burnout contest.

Get it right and the car is quick. So quick, in fact, the Mallett Solstice V8 will beat a C6 Corvette through the quarter-mile—just don't tell that to Chevy.

“Yeah, I'm still taking heat over that,” says Chuck Mallett, founder of Mallett Cars. “I've always worked with Chevy, and now I'm taking their premium engine and putting it in a Pontiac.”

Mallett, the man, forged his reputation out of cranking ungodly amounts of performance from a whole slate of bow-tie-badged vehicles, finding power, speed and agility where most engineers don't bother even looking.

Drawing upon his family's five-decade involvement in professional motorsports—including his own racing background—Mallett has developed cars for Chevrolet racing, for everything from Trans-Am to NASCAR to endurance racing. His best-known street car to date may be the twin-turbo Corvette ZR1 from 1996, which ran a top speed of 273 mph. Today the company spends much of its energy turning otherwise fast and mean cars into faster and meaner ones—not unlike a certain AutoWeek Lifetime Achievement Award winner.

Despite the grumblings at Chevy, the folks in the excitement division are tickled to get their hands on a Mallett car. Dealers have been scrambling to get allotments. “I've got dealers interested in scooping up the whole run,” says Mallett, which, with just 100 cars slated for build through next October, will ensure the scrambling remains fierce.

All that performance, however, doesn't come cheaply. The standard package will set you back $18,000, but for that cash you not only get that meaty small-block, Mallett also augments the drivetrain using a Luk Gold clutch and short-throw shifter; throws on a set of Mallett-Penske non­adjustable shocks, high-performance brake pads and stainless-steel brake lines; and dresses the car with signature Mallett graphics, embroidered headrests and a serial number plaque.

For the particularly speed hungry, Mallett offers a host of add-ons to pile on the performance, in an a la carte fashion or via additional options packages. The top-end supercharged conversion package, for example, includes a six-speed Tremac transmission with three gear-ratio options; 19-inch alloy wheels and tires; Mallett-Penske double adjustable shocks, coilovers and antiroll bars; transmission and differential coolers; a stainless-steel high-flow exhaust; a 3.73 limited-slip differential; heavy-duty four-core radiator; and a supercharger. That whole shebang turns the Solstice into a screaming 600-hp beast while adding a whopping $38,995 to the price tag of a standard Solstice, which itself starts at less than $20,000.

BASE PRICE: $37,995 (including $19,995 for the Solstice)
POWERTRAIN: 6.0-liter, 400-hp, 395-lb-ft V8; rwd, five-speed manual
CURB WEIGHT: 3010 lbs
0 TO 60 MPH: 4.2 seconds (mfr.)



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