My wife came into the spare bedroom/office where I was sitting at my computer and glanced at the screen.
"Oh, no," she exclaimed, "the Solstice addiction has struck again!"
She had caught me once more, searching for Pontiac Solstice roadsters available in our area's used-car lots and private driveways.
"Al," she said, "we have that nice new sedan we just bought, and you have your pickup, and you get a new test vehicle to drive each week. We're empty nesters, a two-driver family. We don't need four vehicles."
Some people would attribute her assessment to rational thought. But, clearly, what we have here is a failure to communicate with the Male Automotive Gene.
"Maybe you should have me admitted to a Solstice rehab facility," I said. "I understand they prescribe seat time in turbocharged Porsche 911s and supercharged Corvettes to dilute your addiction to Solstices, and they have a pretty good cure rate."
Improbably, I do have something analogous to a drug problem when it comes to the Solstice. Colleagues tend to do a double take when I tell them of my obsession, then look at me as if I've just grown a second head. Then they remind me this isn't a perfect car.
Built between 2006 and 2009 as a small affordable roadster like the Mazda Miata (it debuted with a base price tag of $19,995), this extinct offering from the since-interred Pontiac brand triggered my addiction with its great styling. I just love the way this little guy looks. It's perfectly proportioned, flawlessly sculpted, and comes with a nifty, driver-oriented interior. The styling feature I love most is the body extrusions that flow back from the headrests like twin mountain ranges gradually losing altitude as they cross the deck. They remind me of competition Jaguars from the 1960s.
The styling sizzle that caused me to fall in love was joined in 2007 by a tasty steak: the higher-performing Solstice GXP model, which is the one I want. The GXP replaced the forgettable 173-horsepower base four with an early application of GM's 2-liter, direct-injected turbo, which developed 260 horse and as many pounds/feet of torque. That cut the 0-to-60 times from the base car's seven seconds to a Katy-bar-the-door 5.4. The GXP was also fitted with a sportier suspension, a limited-slip differential, ABS, and stability control. The result was a safer car that handled as well as it left stoplights.
Meanwhile, back to my addiction. Haunting the internet in search of a cherry, low-mileage GXP that I really can't justify or afford at the moment (a clean, low-mileage GXP would set me back between 10 and 12 large), is only one manifestation of my affliction. Here are a couple of others:
Chatting up Solstice owners. For example, I recently pulled into our local supermarket parking lot next to a guy, perhaps in his late 50s, getting into his arrest-me red 2008 GXP fitted with the five-speed manual gearbox.
"I love the way your car looks," I told him.
"Thanks, I do, too."
"How do you like driving it?"
"Love it. It handles well, and it really goes like hell."
"Is your wife aware of your velocity research?"
"That would be a negative."
Visiting dealerships with a Solstice on the lot. I prefer to do this in a pricey test car, so the salesman is less likely to take me for the Solstice tire kicker I am. I look the car over carefully, then take it for a test drive.