By on April 27, 2009

Excitement is an ephemeral phenomenon. As was Pontiac. It had its glorious day in the sunshine of the exciting sixties. Pontiac was like the polite, quiet middle child who ran away to California in the early sixties, became a huge star, crashed in 1970, and played the county fair nostalgia circuit ever since. In between repeated bouts in rehab. And now we’re here to pay our last respects.

Not only was Pontiac the “quiet” child in the GM household, it was also the unplanned “accidental” child. Created in 1926 as a minor lower priced “companion” to Oakland, one of GM’s original five car companies, Pontiac survived its mother’s death in the Depression. To save costs, GM’s President Alfred Sloan had Pontiac share a lengthened Chevrolet body and chassis as well as other major components. It became a tarted-up Chevy, and with Pontiac’s first straight-eight engine in 1933, a more powerful one. Thus badge-engineering was born.

In Sloan’s “a car for every pocketbook” dictum, Pontiac became the (realistic) aspiration for the Chevy driver of the thirties. Pontiac’s prices slotted in exactly between the most expensive Chevy range and the cheapest Oldsmobile.

But Sloan’s religiously hierarchical structure collapsed at the beginning of the Depression. And by the fifties, the divisions were all over each other. It was like a new twist to a professional wrestling tag team match: The GM Mid-Price Thee Stooges. And although the GM team made sure to make it look like they were also fighting with each other, it didn’t really matter, as long as the real competition was flattened. The competition’s contestants like Edsel and DeSoto were tossed out of the ring, permanently. Mercury, Dodge and Chrysler were left bloody. And it wasn’t ketchup either.

But Pontiac was the laggard of the GM team until 1959. That’s when it reinvented itself, started working out in earnest, grew a “wide track,” and let its (now dyed blonde) hair grow long. And overnight, it became the Star(Chief).

Instantly, Pontiac jumped to fourth place in US sales. The dreamy 1960 “Wide Track Pontiac” ads as rendered by Fitzpatrick and Kaufman are icons of the time when Americans were ready to fully embrace image, youthfulness, style, and most of all, excitement. Pontiac’s decade had arrived.

Unarguably the best styled cars of the sixties, Pontiac jumped to third place in 1962 and held that spot though the decade. It was a crushing blow to Chrysler’s Plymouth division, which had claimed that perch since the late twenties. And in doing so, Pontiac sucked Chevy right into the GM tag team spectacle. And before long, even Caddy would be in the ring too, fighting for the working-man’s attention (and suspension of disbelief).

But all during the sixties, Pontiac had the moves to keep the eyes on it. The first was the 1963 Grand Prix coupe. It had the exclusiveness and formal elegance of the Buick Riviera coupe, at about three-fourths the price.

But Pontiac really wowed the crowds with its 1964 GTO. Now here was something that hadn’t been seen before. Drop-kick the big 389 into the light, mid-size Tempest, along with suspension, tire, appearance and interior upgrades, and the affordable American enthusiast car reached its zenith. In this pre-BMW era of fossilized British roadsters, the GTO overwhelmingly had the best overall performance/dollar equation. Pontiac was BMW before BMW was cool (or available).

But like for so many stars of the sixties, the seventies were not kind to Pontiac. Its flabby beltline was clearly showing. What remaining life forces it could muster were all concentrated on one remaining move, the Trans Am. And even that became a bit of a joke after one too many times. Pontiac’s star had passed, and it tumbled out of the coveted number three spot.

Now its moves were reduced to pathetic little imitations of Chevrolet: Phoenix, Astre, Sunbird, J-2000, T-1000, etc. Having lost its mojo, Pontiac also began endless self-conscious attempts to capture the BMW cachet, like with the original 1973 Grand Am.

Oddly enough, Pontiac’s last-ditch BMW-caricatures enjoyed a brief revival of interest during the mid-eighties. But the crowd that was paying (not very much) was not exactly a highly coveted demographic. As in this uncharitable description of the stereotypical driver of a (red) Grand Am: “a nail manicurist who lives in a trailer with an unemployed (former wrestler?) boyfriend”. Pontiac had become the Wal-Mart BMW. Be careful what you wish for.

Despite a few desperate last-ditch twitches induced by steroids smuggled in from Australia, Pontiac was tossed out of the ring for good. And the once-invincible GM tag team is desperately looking for signs of life among its few bloodied remaining members.

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41 Comments on “Editorial: General Motors Death Watch 246: Pontiac R.I.P....”


  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    Thanks , Paul Great writing and how true.

  • avatar
    akear

    After reading this I have come to the conclusion that very few of Lutz cars will be around in a decade. The GTO, G8, and Solstice will be nothing but memories. I blame the poor showing on these cars for Pontiac’s demise. Rebadged Opels and Holdens are destroying GM.

  • avatar
    GTIKLLR

    And the Indian Head cries………..

    As bad as Bangle was for Bimmers his plastic cladd-ons on Pontiacs relegated them to also runs on national rental car lots.Right up to the latest G8 the nostrils, fake hood openings ribbed add-ons remained immature. Something, the former wrestler would drive himself, maybe??

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    Another step on the road to Geezerdom. “Hey, kids – when I was your age we used to have a car called a Pontiac. Had a really cool little indian head on the dash that lit up red when your brights were on.”

    Great analysis, Paul. You could add that Pontiac’s greates moment, the GTO, was in spite of GM management, and not because of it. The GTO was put together in violation of GM’s corporate rules against putting big block engines in that body shell. John Delorean did it in secret and by the time GM could do anything about it, the car had become too big of a hit for the home office to do anything about it.

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    Rebadged Opels and Holdens are destroying GM.

    No…tose are some of the best car GM sells here. The Vue and the G8 are two perfect examples.

    But ask yourself…when was the last time you saw an ad for either of those two.

    GM is destroying GM…not their excellent product.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Thats a 60 in the photo.I was seven when Dad brought home a 60 Black Strato Chief.That was the beginning of my love afair with everyhing Pontiac.

    20.000 plus of my former coworkers getting the axe,I guess overshadows the loss of Pontiac,but it still breaks my heart.

  • avatar
    racebeer

    To see what GM has done to this make is enough to make you cry. From running a strong third in sales during most of the 60’s (at around 1 million units per year) to the poor 280,000 units of the latest year speaks direccttly to GM’s inability to manage a brand. Look, I’m a bit biased here because my family has owned a bunch of Ponchos, starting with a ’55 Chieftan 4-door. We had a rope drive Tempest LeMans from ’63, a 389 Bonneville in ’63, a 428 Bonneville in ’69 …. not to mention my sister’s ’66, ’68, and ’71 GTOs, 73 Grand Prix, and ’77 Trans-Am. I’ve had my share as well starting with an ’83 STE and ending with the ’98 Firebird currently in the stable. If only the idiots on the 14th floor at the Tubes had understood what it was about Pontiac that made it special and capitalized on that, this situation would not exist. To me, the real problem is that Chevy has always had the upper hand on the 14th floor, and anyone who challenges them gets slapped. Look no further than the Fiero for a good example. Although it was conceived as an inexpensive sporty commuter car, the real idea was to make it into a ‘Vette killer. Chevy wouldn’t allow for that, so instead we got a half baked idea that was watered down due to corporate politics. Ditto for most things Pontiac has tried to do throughout the years. I still think Chevy has an inferiority complex when it comes to Pontiac, and they have used their clout to keep Pontiac in their “place”. Sad, to say the least.

    What a way to run a legend into the ground. Just starve it, and then say gee, it isn’t viable, so let’s kill it. Chevy management, I hope you are happy!!!!! YOU’LL BE NEXT!!!!!!!!!!!

  • avatar
    taxman100

    When I was a preteen in the 1970’s, all the cool high school kids drove a Pontiac. The Gran Prix, LeMans, etc. was still the cars to own if you had cool parents.

    Every year cars get more and more the same, and every year there are fewer and fewer reasons to buy something to replace what you already own, unless you are one of the paranoid types who want every conceivable overhyped safety feature.

    Sad days to be an American.

  • avatar
    EEGeek

    When I was in high school in the late 70’s, my stepfather was a district sales mgr for Pontiac. Back then it was neck and neck between Pontiac & Olds for the number three sales nameplate, after Chevy & Ford. I grew up coveting the Bandit’s screaming chicken Trans Am, and held a special spot in my heart for Pontiac until the early 90s, when I realized they had nothing of even remote interest to me anymore.

    Cutlass & Grand Prix – a study in corporate incompetence…

  • avatar

    That is a wonderful picture. I can remember exactly how I felt as a child being wowed by Pontiacs. Would be nice to have a credit. Very nice obit, but wasn’t John DeLorean responsible for Pontiac’s rise?

  • avatar
    NickR

    I agree that the beginning of the end of Pontiac was the mid-late 70s. Pontiac clung to its performance chops longer than it’s rivals (the Super Duty Trans Ams were still potent automobiles). But then the Trans Am became a bit of a joke. I know that they have their adherents, but the Smokey and th Bandit era Trans Ams with the screaming chicken on the hood were regarded by most people as being kitschy and underperforming. Then the restyle of ’79 turned the Firebird/Transam into a catfish. Shortly thereafter it was the dawn of the cladding era and that was that.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The worst part was seeing the occasional flash of brilliance (like, say, the last few Fieros, or the G8). It wasn’t just Pontiac, towards the end, but there were more than a few examples.

    The benefit to this, you’d hope, is that said brilliance won’t be dispersed throughout a sea of mediocrity. Instead of four “meh” Epsilon cars, we’ll hopefully get one with the 9-3’s handling and safety, the Aura’s looks, the Malibu’s powertrain and interior, nothing from the G6 and the marketing resources of all four combined.

    I’d also hope that we’re going to see a purge of “bad” management as part of this, but I’m not holding my breath. Cutting brands is all well and good, but when you have them same people crewing the ship, can they really do that much better a job?

  • avatar
    threeer

    And here I was over the weekend, looking at a nice, low mileage 2006 Solstice (base…no power windows, no AC, dark green metallic, 5 speed)…wonder if I should pass on that now given the news that Pontiac is dieing…

  • avatar
    tpandw

    Great piece. It’s a concise study of everything that’s gone wrong with GM, not just for the last 30 or 40 years, but really with strategy that was perhaps inherently flawed but because it wasn’t adjusted as times changed became fatal. What grist for B school case studies for years to come!

    BTW, “GM” and “Excellent Product” don’t really belong in the same sentence.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Rumors of Pontiac’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Pontiac will live on as part of the bad GM for some time.

  • avatar
    geeber

    A very nice editorial that neatly recalls Pontiac’s brief (in retrospect) moment in the sun, and its subsequent decline into Rebadge Hell.

    Pontiac has been dead for years. Today’s Pontiacs have no resemblance to the great Pontiacs of the 1960s. As with the decision to phase out Oldsmobile, today’s announcement amounts to a mercy killing.

  • avatar

    Darn! Given my wife’s POS Buick, I was hoping Buick would bite it.

    John

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Cutlass & Grand Prix – a study in corporate incompetence…

    Exactly. I’d toss in Trans Am as well.

    Yes, perhaps one of the most influential periods of my development was the mid-late 70s (it sucks to be me), where the cars highly coveted were the Cutlass, Lemans, Gran Prix, and Trans Am? HOW COULD YOU (GM) DROP THE BALL SO BADLY?

    In this dog-eat-dog automotive world, I understand not everyone can survive. New players have entered, old friends have left. But for one corporation to have screwed up so royally is absolutely amazing.

    BTW, doesn’t Pontiac still sell more than Buick? Why not have Buick be a China-only nameplate?

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Killing this brand is the right move, but it’s only part of the narrative that needs to occur. The safe money’s on GM effing up the rest of this story (creating a culture of success, purging feckless management, cutting number of dealers to less than Toyota’s, etc, etc.) making today’s announcement an exercise in futility.

    Hey, maybe that’s their new name – Futility Motors.

  • avatar
    05gt

    racebeer,

    “Look no further than the Fiero for a good example. Although it was conceived as an inexpensive sporty commuter car, the real idea was to make it into a ‘Vette killer.”

    Isnt this the type of overlapping product cannibalism that companies shouldnt have?

  • avatar
    nudave

    I suppose Chevrolet dealers will be the beneficiaries of the “low income, low IQ, beer for breakfast” crowd that will no longer have their own dedicated brand.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    The end of an era. But let’s remember the Firebirds with Chevy engines, the clone cars who parts were no different beyond the name plates, the shame of importing Aussy cars and selling them as GTOs.

    Buick needs to take note of this development and start handing out Chinese Rosetta Stone courses.

    18 years of Saturn yet they dumped Pontiac first. I would have thought the floundering Saturn line would get it first but of course Saturn dealers are generally standalone while Pontiacs are sold along side GMC trucks and Buick barges.

    Maybe it’s better that Pontiac go away after all.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    I know the Solstice/Sky combo goes away after their first generation (and only gen) is done, but I think a redone would fit well into Chevy’s lineup. Same with the G8 as long as it puts the current Impala into the junkyard.

    Case in point – I look at the current Mazda lineup as being one of the best when it comes to avoiding overlap.
    Mazda3 – great entry level car and wagon that just so happens to have a firebreathing older brother named Speed (but done in limited numbers so it doesn’t really intrude on other models)
    Mazda6 – new family sedan ranging from the high teens to the mid-30’s (like Accord/Altima/Camry)
    MX-5 Miata – entry level sports car with expensive power hardtop upgrade
    RX-8 – top end sportscar – doesn’t compete with the Miata on price
    The only minor overlap COULD be with the CX-7/9, but seat counts are different and there’s a gap in pricing.

    Now, Chevy is getting a new entry level car from Korea I believe
    The Cobalt is becoming the Cruze
    The Malibu is still a great American car
    The Impala is trash. Slot the G8 here
    The Corvette is on top
    There’s room for a Solstice/Sky as an entry level (Fiero-type) car. Ford had that with the Probe, Chrysler had that with the Laser/Talon, and GM used to have that with small cars like the Storm and Fiero. They sell in small numbers and look good in any lineup.

    But it won’t happen…

  • avatar
    folkdancer

    I still think Chevy has an inferiority complex when it comes to Pontiac, and they have used their clout to keep Pontiac in their “place”.

    A few days ago MSNBC had an editorial recommending that GM get rid of Chevrolet and keep the other brands. The editorial was saying that Chevy was overshadowing the rest of the brands and keeping them from developing.

    It was fun to read a different viewpoint but probably the number of Chevy dealers is too great for GM to fight with.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    @GTIKLLR –

    In our family, we had a Bonneville SSE company car (new in the late 1980’s…I think it was an ’89 and we didn’t have a choice in the matter) and that plastic ribbing and trim was just so trashy and cheap looking. The car was never wrecked (or even bumped in a fender bender), but that didn’t stop the trim from getting loose and letting grime build up underneath it.
    After a couple of years, before turn-in time, the plastic was fading before the paint. The button-filled steering wheel controls worked when they wanted to, and the power seats had a love of torture as they would adjust without our input!

    This is just one car of many that turned us off to American cars and millions of us feel the same way.

    While Pontiac might have made some real changes lately, compromised models like the new GTO and Solstice (clean sheet design and it has an impossible top and zero trunk…that makes no sense to me) along with rental car junk like the G5 makes it hard to think they had a future.

    I hope this scaling down works otherwise GM is done.

  • avatar
    JoeEgo

    I have two feelings on the matter.

    First, don’t kill it. The heritage and a tweaked G8 is a good core vehicle to use for rebuilding the brand. I still, desperately, want to see a G8 sportwagon in the U.S. Aaaaaarrgh!

    Second, it’s a mercy killing. GM management obviously cannot even ‘improve’ their own heads out of their nsfw’s. The Torrent?? The G3?!?!? Nothing but minor tweaks to the Solstice?

    A few good (even great) vehicles do not excuse Pontiac or the whole of GM for the absolute failure of their operations. Autopilot into irrelevancy describes the board & top management. A team of leaders would not have so consistently made excuses, waffled on product roadmaps, and bent over for unions and politicians. Ch.11 should have started 5 or 10 years ago.

    I’d like a G8 (LOVE a sportwagon!!!) and am very interested in an Enclave, but supporting GM in anything seems pointless. Government management is just plain offensive to me. It all went downhill because the people running the company LET it happen. Leaders MAKE things happen and we haven’t seen anything like that from GM, across the board, in a long time. Why should anyone, let along taxpayers collectively, support a such a complacent, failure-prone company?

  • avatar
    FloorIt

    Yeah, I’m definitely in mourning today.
    I liked Pontiac cars looks better than Chevy. I had a 1980 Sunbird Formula vs Monza, 73 Gran Prix beater vs Impala or Bel Air.
    The Trans Am seems to me be more recognizable and gutsy than Z-28 or Iroc-Z.
    Chevy should have been trimmed too.
    Frak the new camaro retro pos styling.
    The G8 is dead, long live the G8!

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    Dunno why GM is killing off whole brands.

    Keep the best 2-3 Pontiacs. Keep the best 1-2 Buicks. Keep the best 1-2 trucks and call them GMC. Keep the best 1-2 Chevys. And so on.

    Sell them all at all of the dealerships (renamed GM dealers) and let the bad dealers sink. In the end dealers will either merge or die and the dealer network will right size itself as will GM.

    GM can sell a few Opels here as Saturns. Oh wait they can’t. Well they could sell a couple Holden’s here as Pontiacs. Keep the G6 and G8 cousins and the Solstice. No more. It is just stupid to think that there should be multiple GM dealer types when GM only has enough marketshare to support a few of the best products from each division.

    FWIW our local Ford dealer went bankrupt (and then bought by the local Hyundai/Kia dealer). The local GMC/Buick/Pontiac dealer is KIA as of last month. Nobody bringing them back anytime soon. One morning driving to work and everything is gone – as if they moved out during the night.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Just color me gone, baby!

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    @joeaverage — I completely agree.

    Killing all the brands doesn’t make sense. Sell the good examples under a single roof. I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, and I have a real affection for the American cars. Pontiac was always one of my favorites. I have an 88 Fiero and I love driving it.

    Back in the late 70’s early 80’s, my friends and I used to have fun debating which car we liked the best: The Grand Prix, the Regal, the Monte Carlo? The Riviera, Toronado, or Eldorado? Though each car was essentially the same, each had their own flair and said something different about the owner. For a long time, this was cool, but at some point, the statement the cars made became a bad joke.

    GM allowed that to happen. Olds became old, Pontiac became the secretary’s car, Buick was confused, and (with the exception of the Corvette) Chevy is just Chevy.

    Now I’m more than old enough to buy cars, and I’ve bought many. The problem (for the American car companies) is that while I’ll drive their cars, I won’t buy them new. If I buy a new car, it’s Japanese.

    There’s no way I’ll subject my finances to the deep depreciation hit the American cars take. So I wait a year-and-a-half, and I pick up a gently used domestic for nearly half MSRP. This is the cost (to the domestic manufacturers) for allowing their cars to become also-rans. The cost to us, eventually, is the domestics are sinking, and soon there will be no drastically limited choices. Sad days indeed.

  • avatar

    So sad.
    My folks had two Grand Prix, back when they truly were grand. Huge hoods, nice inside, 400 or 455 driving the rear wheels.

    I learned to drive in them, but passed my driving test in a friend’s Toyota Corolla, some weird Japanese car that was tiny to boot.

    Got my first speeding ticket in a Grand Prix. Had my license all of two weeks, took the GP up Route 80, got it up to 115, and decided I was way over my head. The cop radared me at 74, lucky for me.

    High school car, a 69 firebird with a 400, ragtop. Trash used car at the time, not the classic collectible it is today. Saw one in the same maroon over black at a car show recently. Who knew that bondo special was restorable ?

    Pontiac had a shot, but since GM no longer owns the 50% market share, sadly, it does not stand out enough alone.

    Chevy-Buick-Cadillac ?

  • avatar

    Welp, I guess the track to hell is wide….

  • avatar
    dougfixit

    Pontiac lost it in the late 70’s. The Trans AM was loved by the disco set. Then Pontiac basically became the car of choice for blue collar housewives. They (the cars) were all gussied up with cladding, just like a lot of blue collar housewives would wear too much make up and jewelry.

    If they stuck to no-nonsense performance like in the 60’s, they would’ve survived today’s ax-ing.

  • avatar
    bodyonframe

    no matter what, I’ll never forget any ride in a 4th gen. LT1/LS1 Trans Am. Never failed to put a smile on my face.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    If I were in charge, there would be a SPECIAL place in hell for the management who ruined the best car company ever, General Motors.

  • avatar
    GTIKLLR

    @theflyersfan

    I remember the SSE very well. the chintzy (Buick sourced?) interior, dimensions that did noting for me at any angle, the unreliable overburdened gimmicky electronic. Supposedly the best thing was the rear window defroster…. to warm your hands while pushing it.

    Not very much mentioned (and rightfully so) in this thread was the ultimate insult to Pontiac customers: the Aztec. The Cimarron of Pontiac. For that car alone they deserve to fade away over the horizon like the hero in a bad spaghetti western!

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    What are the GM brands anymore? They are different logos added to the vehicle on the assembly line. Not much more. There are so many different GM products that aren’t different at all – they are the same vehicle under different logos. All this to satisify the dealer network who competes with itself – this dealer selling GMC and that dealer over there selling the same damn product as a Chevy. Over here that minivan is a Chevy and over there it is a Saturn. I don’t really mind it too much when I know they are really the same product and I can buy it with two different trim packages -errr brands. That’s really what the different brands come down to when speaking about a few of the GM brands. Trim packages. Oh this one is a Saturn and that one is a Buick but it is different trim packages. What I don’t like is GM trying to convince me that these are truly different products. They aren’t.

    I would feel better seeing those same products sitting side by side though on the same dealer lot so I could make a careful choice. Do I want the Pontiac version or do I want the Chevy version??? How about the pricing? Is the difference in price really worth it to me? And thus I’d like to see the whole mess of dealers done away with and replaced with GM dealers who carry the whole GM lineup on their lot. Sure, they might need to order in some specific color/trim level combo but at least I could see what GM has to offer without travelling all over creation. I can get that at Honda and Toyota. I like that. No, for shopping a GM product I either start out looking at their long list of websites or I have to go to 5 different dealers just to see the corporate lineup. Next to impossible to compare the Buick to the Chevy that are likely the same vehicle under the skin – one with floatier suspension or a bench seat or bland colors or ???

    No, what I propose is make all the trucks and vans GMC. No more of this duplication with Chevy. Make Chevy the Camaro, the Corvette, and some sedan like the Malibu (or whatever the best seller is right now). Maybe a large people mover minivan. Make Pontiac the RWD Holden division. Make Saturn (yeah I know they are dead) the FWD/AWD Opel. Sell the Zaphira mini-people-mover. Let Buick and Caddy continue with a couple of models each. Add a big touring wagon (floaty) for Buick and a sport wagon for Caddy. I don’t care for or about Hummer. Let that one die.

    If Opel sells more cars than Caddy – so be it. If some Holden is faster than some Corvette then so be it. None of this stacking the product line so that all models are lesser products than the “flagship” brands. All the brands have been forced to play second fiddle to Chevy. Chevy is damaged all by itself. Little corporate fifedoms. Stupid company.

    I guess this doesn’t matter anymore because GM is intent on dying. On purpose I wonder? To shed legacy costs and expensive contracts? Quietly. Slowly. So they can be competitive with new comer Chinese and Indians in a few years. And perhaps the return of the Euro-brands if gasoline begins to creep higher and stay higher and we rediscover the joy of small frugal cars. Maybe this is the only way to starve the UAW into submission to get them into line with the transplant employee costs – I don’t mean the hourly wages – but the benefit costs and

    So GM has a bunch of dead brands but they own the trademarks. GM ought to take the cream of the crop from their whole lineup (Astra, G8, G6, Vue, coupe, Buick Enclave, Corvette, GMC trucks, ‘bu, and so on) and cull the rest of the models. Close down the division head offices they can not afford whatever they be. Lay off the workers they can not afford. Close the factories that GM can not utilize and – – – keep making the brands that have the best products. Okay so there isn’t a Pontiac division anymore but nothing says that GM can’t still make the G8 or G6 coupe and still stick on a Pontiac logo to the hoods and trunklids. Hell, build them in Korea for all I care. Well no – I do care. Build them here so people have some jobs. Build them on the same line as all the other GM products. Don’t care if the paperwork or profits goes through a Pontiac division office or if they all go to GM directly or if the cars get built in a Pontiac factory – just build ‘em.

    People will warm up to GM again if they see only the cream of the crop on GM dealer lots. If the GM brands are simplified. People will warm to the idea that the company sells only quality vehicles, a variety of solutions to consumer needs or wants (hatchbacks, sedans, SUVs, CUVs, etc) and the el-cheapo crap that GM has been building in addition to the good cars – is dropped. Get away from the idea that GM is a costcutting car building monster and and GM should promote itself as the American equivalent of Honda. Fewer models, more quality, more creativity. Less pomp, less ego, less “we lead the world” or “we are the best” when they clearly don’t and aren’t leading anybody.

  • avatar
    Simpson

    Many of these comments unfortunately expose the age of those writing them and thus their bias. I happen to know because I’m of the same age. But I can’t get into this wistful hope for the good old days past…GM made the right call on pontiac no matter whose fault it is or was. This is push come to shove time and there is no room for a nostalgic wish for a culture that will never again return to this country. Gm is not going to die but it will not be like many in tbis blog want it to be either.

  • avatar
    gfen

    I would’ve liked to see all of GM’s families of nameplates consolidated, and so to the dealers, into one cohesive line-up. The Chevy family cars sold under the same roof as the Pontiac sportscars, a few positions over the Buick semi-luxury family cars sat next to the Caddies with the GMC workin’ trucks shared space with the Hummer SUVs. And sure, sometimes you’d see the special edition SUV sold as a Cadillac Escalade, or the FWD, family man Cobalt sold with the SS badge, but for the most part the dealers could mix and match what they wanted from a lineup of cars that suited their nameplates. No Pontiac G3s, no GMC Acadias and no Saturn Skies.

    Oh well.

    I do hope that Buick gets the Pontiac winners, though. G8 becomes the new Riveria/Grand National. The wagon can be the Road Master, and the Solstice can be the Sky Hawk… Of course, none of this will happen. The Vibe become a Cadillac, the Solstice a GMC and the G8 axed for being too similar to the Camaro.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    Gfen- you gave me an idea. GM should build cars and trucks to order. Have say, a Malibu, a Cruise, a CTS, a Buick, a Silverado, a Solstice, and an Envoy. When the car/truck arrives at the dealer’s showroom, the customer picks out the chrome nametags they want put on it- “Eldorado”, “W-31″, “Formula”, “Bel-Air”, “Cheyenne”, “Stingray”, whatever. I’m sure that The chrome labels would be cheaper to produce than whole cars. You could have a new Buick that says “Super” or “Riviera”. A pickup that says “Cameo”. A malibu that says “Cutlass Supreme”. I would order a solstice that says “Biarritz”, or “Mako Shark”, or “Del Ray” on it.

  • avatar
    ern35

    Back in the 50’s my dad owned a 1950 Pontiac ‘torpedoback’ 4-door bought used in ’55, and a ’55 Pontiac 4-door used in ’57. Both cars were basically Chevrolets with Pontiac grills, stripes, and trim and 6-cylinder engines. But that was how some cars were marketed in Canada. Similarly a Meteor was basically a Ford in different trim, and lower-level Dodges were simply rebadged Plymouths. Folks that bought into this ‘rebadged’ system were convinced that they were buying UP. Heck, I even remember one Pontiac owner convincing my dad that ‘Pontiac was the working-man’s Cadillac’—


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