A doomed concept, but done right: The Pontiac Solstice

Every year, automakers tease the public with concept cars that take the international car show circuit by storm. By blowing a little glitter in enthusiasts' eyes, the big brands are able to distract from the often less than exciting production models they brought to the party.

These designs are intended to give an idea of what direction the brands will be going in with future rides. Usually, what automakers actually produce is nowhere near as exciting. But every once in awhile, a brand will bring a concept model to the assembly line that actually lives up to what was promised.

One recent example was the Pontiac Solstice. The concept debuted at the Detroit International Auto Show back in 2002, wowing the audience as a legitimate roadster unlike anything else in the GM stable. It looked like no Pontiac of the era, as its slick lines and smooth panels didnt bear any of the heavy cladding and bloated features characteristic of the mark's most popular models. The concept was uniquely Pontiac in spirit, but a complete departure from the current design approach the brand had taken, which had turned into essentially throwing too much lipstick on some very old pigs.

The concept was so well received by the press and car enthusiasts, that the heads of GM saw it as the model that could help change the public perception of the Pontiac label. The General was so confident in this model, that they developed a whole new platform to build it on with the intent of bringing an entire line of compact roadsters to the streets.

The Kappa platform being designed for the Solstice would also underpin the Saturn Sky, another roadster based on a concept originally displayed at the Detroit Auto Show, as well as the Opel Gt, which only sold in Europe.

These models were relative sales successes during their short lives. However, they did little to save Pontiac or Saturn, which were both disbanded from the GM family after the company declared bankruptcy in 2009.