Around 1982, Sisten was engineering a compact sedan for their new brand, Corsica. However, around 1983, the company that was supposed to supply Sisten with the materials the new sedan was supposed to be built from went bust. Their demise came from mismanagement issues. Due to the problem, Corsica’s first sedan instead became the Oakwood, a stop-gap model until Sisten managed to find a new supplier.
After many delays, the now named Solar went on sale in 1986, with a design that was done in '82.
Now, a few months before the official launch, Mr. Tennant had a great idea.
“Why don’t we promote our new model with a product placement in the show EVERYBODY is watching tonight?”
With that, the '86 Solar was featured in the third season premiere of
Miami Vice Florida Cops.
Corsica Solar Gen. 1
Designed by Kenneth Carmichael, it was only Corsica’s second design made from scratch, after the original 1981 Cheetah. The design is made from sharp edges and boxy shapes, everything that would fit on a car in 1983.
In 1987, the Solar became the official company car of the Sisten Motoring Corporation, after the Sisten Sunburst.
This model would be known as the car that truly launched Corsica, being their first true volume-seller.
Underneath the shell, the Solar features a basic steel monocoque chassis with a Transverse FWD layout. MacPherson Struts can be found in the front with Torsion Beams taking their place in the back.
Inside, the traditional gauge cluster was replaced with a SPACE AGE digital screen cluster, shown above.
Unusually for a car like this, all three engines that were available were designed from the ground up just for this model.
Our first option is a 1.6 liter Inline-4, making a whole 93 horsepower and speeding this beast from 0-100 km/h in 10.4 seconds. It utilizes a 16 Valve, double overhead cam design as well as Multipint fuel injection.
The second engine on offer is a 1.8 liter Inline-4, now making 110 horsepower. Essentially using the same design as the 1.6, the 1.8 was on offer from 1986 until 1990. Interestingly, this engine (with some modifications) is still in use on the South American Sisten Cargovan.
The third engine available is the turbocharged 2.2 liter Inline-4. Internally named “SC Molecule”, this version generates 146 horsepower and 211 Nm of torque. The “Molecule” was only ever available with the Sport trim.
In total, there were 4 trim versions. The base model GL included cloth seats, an 8-track player and no air conditioning. This trim was only ever available with a 5-speed manual, like the Sport.
The mid-line SL upgraded the cloth seats to slightly nicer cloth seats. A/C was standard and a 3-speed automatic became available and the mirrors were mostly body-colored.
For the recently retired grandpa, the luxury SE trim came exclusively with the 3-speed automatic and a fancy cassette player. And you could get it in beige (as pictured above).
The most expensive version however, would be the Sport. Optioned from the factory with a nice spoiler and “TURBO” stickers, it would actually end up being the second most popular version, behind the SL.
From '86 to '93, a total of 1,004,601 first generation Solars were produced. Until 2010, this would be the most popular Corsica model.
Karen took the kids again.
1.6 I4 | 1986
Horsepower: 93hp @ 6000 RPM
Torque: 132 Nm @ 2700 RPM
Top Speed: 165km/h
0-100km/h: 10.4 seconds (5-speed)
Transmission: 5-speed manual
1.8 I4 | 1986
Horsepower: 110hp @ 6200 RPM
Torque: 154 Nm @ 3600 RPM
Top Speed: 170km/h
0-100km/h: 10.7 seconds (3-speed)
Transmission: 3-speed automatic, 5-speed manual
2.2 I4 Turbo | 1986
Horsepower: 146hp @ 5900 RPM
Torque: 211 Nm @ 3700 RPM
Top Speed: 188km/h
0-100km/h: 7.9 seconds (5-speed)
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Skipping yet another year in 1987, Corsica’s flagship and their halo model, the Cheetah would get its first generation change for 1988.
And then in 1989 they made a minivan. Because “sports brand”.