Crossover utility vehicles are apparently the wave of the future, pushing sedans right off the map. But this Pontiac “Sunburn” owner incorporated everything we like about cars — and specifically Pontiacs — into his creation.
Let’s lay this right out there: Crossovers aren’t SUVs at all. They’re station wagons. They’re based on unibody car platforms. The vast majority are available at the base level in front-wheel drive configuration, just like their car counterparts. Even with all-wheel drive, most aren’t particularly adept off-road.
With that in mind, take a peek at “Sunburn,” a crossover that we can get behind. It’s for sale on Craigslist in Detroit, with the devilishly enticing price of $2,000.
It started life as a 1999 Pontiac Sunfire GT. From 1995 to 2005, the Sunfire was a bread-and-butter car for Pontiac, offered in coupe and sedan bodystyles, along with the sun-loving convertible this one was based on.
The GT trim level included an engine upgrade to the LD9 2.4-liter Twin Cam four-cylinder, which was good for 150hp and 155-lb.ft. of torque. The GT was a new offering on the convertible bodystyle for 1999. In 2000, the droptop was discontinued.
That’s just the starting point for this crossover creation, though. Underneath, it got a three-inch suspension lift to keep the sensitive bits from getting bashed up off-road, complemented by a set of custom steel rock sliders to protect the rockers. A bash bar up front protects the sensitive front bumper cover. The original alloy wheels were swapped out for 30-inch tires, mounted on Subaru steel wheels.
There was some surprisingly talented modification to the rear decklid, which incorporates the rear taillights. The decklid and the bumper cover were cut to accommodate dual-mounted Baja spares. There’s a custom hitch mount under the bumper, too.
Up top, a custom safari rack holds a cargo basket for all your gear, and also provides mounting points for four out of six of the off-road lights. Body modifications include the custom wheel arches, the “Sunburn” vinyl graphics, and the legendary Pontiac Screaming Chicken hood decal from the Trans Am.
Best of all: The convertible top is fully functional, though the owner does admit to a few leaks. Otherwise, it “runs, drives and stops as it should” which is more than you can say for about 2/3s of the cars on Craigslist.
Convertible crossovers do exist in the marketplace. Take a gander at the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet (MSRP: $41,995) and tell us that this experiment is any less ludicrous.
If an off-road crossover convertible is on your wish list, you can spend $52,100 for a Range Rover Evoque convertible, or you can shake two grand out of the couch for this. You can guess where our money’s going.