By on January 6, 2009 has learned that the Pontiac G8 ST has been canceled. Incidentally, Automobile Magazine is reporting that the Suzuki Kizashi has not been canceled, but will debut in production form at this year’s New York Auto Show.

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52 Comments on “Only The Pointless Die Young...”

  • avatar

    Good riddance.

  • avatar

    Pointless? It seems like every tradesman in Australia has one of these or a Hilux (Tacoma) or a regular van. Oh well, I guess the US can’t handle having their truck worship slapped down with a practical replacement that works the world over.

    Oh, and GM probably don’t want to cannibalise full size sales – isn’t that the LIKELY explanation Ed N.?.

  • avatar

    It might be pointless… but it was so unique. I really liked the idea. Unfortunately, GM is in no position to build unique right now, so it was a smart move.

  • avatar

    As truly fantastic as it would have been, I am glad GM has decided to can it.

  • avatar

    Pointless, depends on your point of view I suppose.

    This car is embraced on the other side of the world because it’s a car that hauls everything people need to haul yet provides the same comfort, dynamics, fuel consumption and performance of a car. Which is what it is.

    Holden is building this car right now on the same line as the G8 sedan that they export here to the US. They also assemble the Sportwagon variant on the same line as well. Holden already made the investment and is producing the car. GM already sank the money into federalizing it for US sale and have only moved a paltry 15,000 sedans since the G8 was released.

    Given these facts, why not sell the G8 ST and the Sportwagon in the US and send Pontiac off with a bang? The money has already been spent. Why not add more appeal and buzz to the range with two new variants now and get some more sales? What was the big hidden cost with these two variants of an existing car that GM couldn’t stomach? Or was it more about not releasing too many RWD, performance-oriented fun cars after recieving a government bailout? The numbers can’t get much worse than what the sedan alone is currently generating. Chrysler, as maligned as they are, sell more SRT8 variants of their big RWD muscle cars than GM can shift G8s total. Why not go all out at this point?

    I guess we’ll never really know. But I can tell you the G8 is a fantastic car and it really deserves to be a success. It’s just a shame GM didn’t sell these and the other variants through Chevrolet as they should have and stuck the Pontiac taint on them.

    The brand has done more to kill the Holden Commodore and other Holden cars on these shores than they have done to help the brand, it’s that far gone.


  • avatar

    Pete: This thing retailed in the low 30s. It was pointless because it was far too expensive for any business use of the thing; you could get two Tacomas for as much as that thing cost. Hell, you could rock out a full sized truck or van for less. No business man in his right mind would buy that thing; there’s a dozen better options that cost less and would be better for any conceivable use. And since it was a “sport truck” I doubt the gas mileage would really amortize into much if any savings over a small pickup.

  • avatar

    @ Toxicroach

    I agree, no doubt. I think if there was any chance that buyers might take one of these over a GM fullsize, they were always going to kill it.

    Commentary in Australia was pretty much the same when the exports (to the USA) were announced.

  • avatar

    I don’t like the idea that we’re cheering the delortion of what would probably be a fun little trucklet. As noted above, most of the cost has already been expended.

  • avatar

    I was looking forward to this because it would be unique, but now that GM is using my money to cover its losses I want to see it make good business decisions, and this would not be one.

    A single cab compact pickup costs about $12K new, and that is really the class that this is in. For what this would cost buyers can get 3/4 ton crew cabs.

    Anyone that was looking forward to buying one can probably get a good deal on an SSR.

    Go to the Ford and Chevrolet of Mexico websites if you want to see some small Ranchaminos that might fill good niche.

    I know we removed the 25% “Chicken Tax” tariff in our recent trade agreement with South Africa, but I’m not sure if we did in the trade agreement with Australia, so that may have been an issue also.

  • avatar

    A man from Mars would conclude, based on actual use by most owners, that the majority of light duty pickups are equally pointless.

  • avatar

    Pontiac-Buick-GMC, although it is supposed to appeal to my ‘socioeconomic demographic,’ needs to die and let Chevrolet and Cadillac prosper.

    How do we know that the Kizashi is not yet another lackluster Suzuki sedan? Proof will be in the pudding.

  • avatar

    The FTA the US and Australia passed years ago eliminated the chicken tax. Had that tax not been in place in 2003 we would have likely gotten the VY/VZ Holden Utes instead of the Holden Monaro.

    This car wasn’t in the same class as a stipped out, compact truck. This car was in the same class as the Magnum R/T and the people most interested in it were muscle car nuts, mostly the same people that bought the El Camino SS back in the day and buy these things over in Australia. This car was all about turning heads and V8 performance, not heavy lifting or something you’d want to clap out like a cheap truck.

    Yeah, the market for that here is limited but I think any sales GM could pile on to the G8 program at this point would be beneficial. They should be selling the Sportwagon here too. Especially since Holden bothered to create it solely with US export in mind and then GM hosed them by passing on it.

  • avatar

    Would this thing have been classed as a car or light truck? Without light truck status it wouldn’t escape the gas guzzler tax and would lower Pontiac’s already-dismal CAFE rating. With light truck status it would face the import tax.

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    Sorry, but I don’t see how you can buy that this is any way a truly practical vehicle. As toxicroach says, it’s hard to make a business case for the Neo-mino. Unless you’re just looking for a tax write-off, of course. Especially considering the truck market “demand adjustment” (to put it nicely) that’s been going on of late.

    My guess is that GM figured that for every real estate boom realtor who bought a G8 there’d be a contractor who wanted an ST. The G8 isn’t exactly lighting up the sales or holding on to its value well, and GM probably stood to lose money on both in the first place. Besides, the truly hard-core will just buy cheap G8s and camino-ize them for Jalopnik star points.

    I would certainly welcome a serious move by GM to introduce more car-based and value/efficiency-oriented commercial vehicles. Of course, in order to be serious about it, they’d have to build them here, not ship ’em from OZ.

    Oh yeah, and come up with some brilliant marketing to redefine American expectations of utility to include car-based vehicles. Obviously this would require refuting the “bigger, plusher, faster for all” paradigm that has dominated the US truck market for over a decade.

  • avatar
    Billy Bobb 2

    Says Suzuki-san: “Kizashi on”!

  • avatar

    Oh my God! No wonder these mental midgets are going under (stealing our tax dollars too). What an ugly, stupid POS. Pointless car made by a brainless car company.

  • avatar

    Oh yeah, and come up with some brilliant marketing to redefine American expectations of utility to include car-based vehicles. Obviously this would require refuting the “bigger, plusher, faster for all” paradigm that has dominated the US truck market for over a decade.

    That would be a public mental health campaign to undo all that brain washing wouldn’t it??

  • avatar

    If you really wanted one, maybe GM will auction the prototype off at the upcoming auction with some autos from their Heritage Collection.

  • avatar


    It’s much easier than that:

    Autotrader SSR listings under $25K


    I completely respect the role that the base V6 Utes play in Australia, but because of the exchange rate these would not work well as base pickups in the US.

    The G8 GT is already selling for $4,000 US dollars less than a similarly equipped Commodore SS, converted to US dollars, even though the G8 has to take a trip across the Pacific.

    Like TriShield said, the G8 ST would take a niche performance role in the US. GM was not worried that it would steal pickup sales, pickup buyers would not buy this. GM was worried this would sit on lots like the Chevy SSR did.

    I am not against car based Utes for certain purposes, but but the VW Caddy like car based Utes that GM and Ford sell in Mexico would fit that role much better, especially given the exchange rate issues with Australia.

  • avatar

    Although, if you really really wanted one, I’m sure there’s a gray-market way if you’re willing to spend the money.

  • avatar

    Jonny Lieberman:

    You were going to buy one?

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman


    I think we both know the answer to that. Especially if they made a G8 ST GXP.

    Whoa nelly!

  • avatar
    Andy D

    In the 30s-60s there were car bodies modified for trades people to use. The business coupe, and the sedan delivery. The Australian ute was in that category too. So were early Ranchero and El Camino. Then , because they were light, hot rodders liked them. They served a definite market. Put a cover on that bed, make it a trunk, and it would be a tasteful update of the three window coupe.

  • avatar

    billc83: maniceightball:

    This is much easier than one-off auctions or grey market right hand drive cars, just buy a used Chevrolet SSR. They came with a very good version of the small block and a 6 speed manual if desired. Although the G8 GT does look better.

    Jonny Lieberman:

    If you say so, but the Camaro is a much more practical, well balanced version of this platform built at a lower cost. 90% of why the Ute is bad ass is that we can’t have it. To import the Ute would be to kill that forbidden fruit mystique. Quoting a musician that has had sex with some good musicians “when they get what they want they never want it again.”


    Us saying the Ute shouldn’t be imported is probably as offensive as calling you a New Zealander or saying that Australians love Fosters. I completely get the Ute as a utilitarian, efficient mix of truck and car, but the exchange rate screws it up. The utilitarian V6 version of the Ute would cost twice as much as a Ranger or Colorado compact pickup, and would even cost more than full size single cab pickups.

    The high performance V8 version is the only version which could be justified in the US from a price standpoint, but it is, farily or not, reminiscent of a car called the Chevy SSR that sat on dealers’ lots.

  • avatar

    Most of America was built using pickups that had something under 100 hp. Frankly most dumptrucks were under 200.

    Most modern trucks are so far beyond any rational need, or even potential scenario that it is just silly.

    As the economy continues to slide over the next year or two, few businesses will need new trucks. But the few that have to will be buying the most decontented, stripped models they can. Just like a work truck should be. Smart manufacturers will be offering lots of base models.

  • avatar

    I feel bad for the five or so people who would have bought one of these…

  • avatar

    It should have been a GMC-badged efficient pick-em-up for pool guys, florists, etc with a V6 or Diesel. They would have sold a LOT to fleets like that, but they would have sold about 2k to red-neck El-Camino nuts…GM is a strange bird.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    The GTO flopped.
    The G8 is flopping.
    The G8-Camino has been flipped off.

  • avatar

    “It might be pointless… but it was so unique.”
    So was the Aztec.

    This is the smartest decision GM has made in years.

  • avatar

    @ Slushy

    It’s OK. We forgive you. Just don’t mention the Kiwi neighbors or the embarrassing beer (no-one drinks it, we’re not sure where it goes after they “brew” it).

  • avatar

    The Suzuki looks damn good. If it didn’t have the SUZUKI brand behind it, I’d consider it – especially if a design like that came out of a company I trust – like Ford.

    as for this abomination up there, good riddens. UGLY AS SIN. I know there is a market for vehicles like these but for GM to mass produce this is madness.

  • avatar

    Do not want.

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    Jonny: Crackpipe, eh? Like I said, if GM built the ST in the states and offered utilitarian versions, my opinion would be very different. This was just a profitless, imported SSR-alike, and I simply don’t understand the point it makes.

    If it is just a halo car, what does it say about the brand? That its unique and entertaining cars have to be imported from Australia? That it could offer efficient, car-based trucks to Americans but doesn’t? That the G8 isn’t enough of a halo on its own? That camino beds make more sense than station wagons? What?

  • avatar

    @ Ed N.

    For the record, Holden were maintaining (at least until very recently) that these vehicles were profitable. The export version continues to the Middle East as Chevy, which is probably more the point.

    The G8 is interesting for what is does say about GM.

    1. Why are there two very similar RWD platforms, separately developed? Sigma II (CTS) and Zeta (G8/Commodore).

    2. How is possible for Holden to (supposedly) be profitable on a low volume line like this in Australia?

    3. How is it that Holden are able to sustainably manufacture a sedan, lwb wagon, lwb limo, ute and high performance versions across a number of price ranges from one plant?

    4. How is it that Holden have leapt (really) in quality with this vehicle?

    To work, it would have to have been locally produced. Wasn’t some of the tech going to Canada? So I agree, GM can’t afford such conundrums.

  • avatar

    But I soooo wanted to borrow one and leave it in the driveway like I bought it. Of course, my wife might have just gone to a hotel and called her lawyer before I could explain it was a joke.

    I do think they are neat, if for no other reason than they are different.

  • avatar

    It’s probably just as well for GM that we won’t be seeing this on our shores, but damn I’d have loved to get some time at the helm of one.

  • avatar

    It’s hard to imagine a modern El Camino right now, but it sure would be cool! As for those with the hate for this car, I don’t get it.

    Maybe you guys are the ones still arguing over why a Nissan V6 produces more power/liter than an Austrailian V8.

    To each their own.

  • avatar

    Perhaps this is a prelude to an announcement that GM has decided to make Pontiac eat that special arrow shaped bullet that management has been saving for them.

  • avatar

    I actually would have looked into buying one of these, had the steel-wheel V6 version been in the plans. The V8 one is just such a caricature, and the best of the El Caminos in my opinion were the spartan ones.

  • avatar

    I like it. Wish I could get one in Portugal. I could haul my dirt bike and the wife quad and still be stylish.

    Of course, I loved the El Camaro (sic).

  • avatar

    I believe it could have worked had it room for three in the cab instead of two and a more economical engine, perhaps a 3.6 V6.

    Again, like yesterday’s RAM post, timing is everything; big engine, poor gas mileage, recessionary economy, no credit and an automobile division that has announced its own demise.

  • avatar

    Its about time!! A piss poor design for a piss poor car.

    In shopping for a new car last month the G8 GT was a prime pick for myself. The dealership was so much in need for a sale that they let me take a week long test drive. Huge mistake on their part. At the end of day two I was more then ready to give it back.

    First things first, the car was a blast to drive. Never had I been able to slide out the rear in such a slick manner. But that was it. Quality, NONE. Craftsmanship, NONE. Practicability, NONE. Reliability, its a Pontiac, NONE.

    The car was a piece of poor fitted, lack luster painted, squeaky running crap that’s only enjoyment in life was sliding onto freeway on-ramps. My poor salesman when I came back into the dealership 2 days early only saying “Thanks for the test drive.” and walking out.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    Over 20 years ago, Chrysler aped VW and made their version of the Rabbit pickup truck. This Omnirizon 024/TC3 trucklet was called the Rampage, and the quote I remember from a Chrysler exec was that sales crashed as soon as all the pool cleaners got theirs, but not before a few of the turbo Shelby variant were produced.

    If the G8 ST ever made it to these shores, it too probably would have lasted a couple of years before it got withdrawn for similar reasons – lack of interest and lousy sales (and price, too – see Chevy SSR). If you want a cheap pickup for utility, now’s the time. Big-time tax deduction for self employed business owners? was the ST’s GVWR >6000lbs? Doubt it.

    Even though the tooling and engineering are all but paid for, marketing bucks would have been nonexistent, and getting unique body parts would mean waiting for the slow boat from Australia.

  • avatar

    Not to compare it but Skoda and Fiat have big selling small-car-converted-pickups like the (rabbit and rampage mentioned) selling very well here in Europe. A small market segment, I know but one that shouldn’t be overlooked.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    I think you are all missing the point. I kind of think that GM is now being rational, and dare I say prudent, in their product decisions. Of necessity. The point is not whether it filled a niche in their product line, or whether having such a product enhanced their “product portfolio”, or any other gee whiz concept they teach in marketing school. Someone in GM apparently crunched a set of numbers and concluded that GM could NOT MAKE MONEY MAKING AND SELLING THIS VEHICLE. That they appear to have done so with a comservative, dare I say realistic set of numbers is a step in the right direction. For everyone who has argued that GM has too many vehicles, this type of decision is the RIGHT decision.

    Since GM is a business, and not yet a department of the US government, this is the most important criterion for go/ no go on production.

    This is the decision that GM needs to make for every vehicle it manufactures and tries to sell to the market from here on in: will we make money on it? Period.

    If you are a GM stakeholder, and come to think of it, we ALL are now, we should view this development somewhat positively.

    Carmakers are in business to make money, not to make a particular subset of drivers warm and fuzzy. If they can do both, fine. But in all things capitalist, the profit comes first.

  • avatar

    I agree, Mark MacInnis.

    But according to others on this thread, the investment is already made. I would think it prudent to sell some (Limited Edition?) to recoup that investment.

    Just sayin’

  • avatar

    I spent time in Australia a few years ago, and the VY/VZ Holden Utes were hot! I’d have bought one in a moment back here in the states, in lieu of a similar small pickup. They were everywhere in Oz, and very popular.
    That said, this Pontiac tarted up and overpriced monstrosity needed to die, it didn’t make financial or common sense.

    As for much mentioned SSR, there was no comparison, the SSR is hideous to my eye and apparently most everyone else’s as well (based on sales numbers), and lacked the functionality of the Holden Ute.

  • avatar

    Someone in GM apparently crunched a set of numbers and concluded that GM could NOT MAKE MONEY MAKING AND SELLING THIS VEHICLE.

    That may be true, but it may have more to do with the money that GM got from the Australian government to start building small cars down there:

    The implication here is that they are going to almost certainly reduce production of the Commodore, which probably means that it makes even less sense to spend the money and effort needed to export versions of them to the US.

  • avatar

    It certainly looked cool when I first saw it up close at the Dallas Auto Show last year, and no doubt it would’ve delivered in performance with that V8 under the hood. Yeah, I could see it as being only a niche seller, but certainly GM could’ve recouped some of it’s investment selling “special edition” niche vehicles to enthusiasts as Kurt suggested, right?

    I think Droid800 hit the mark a few posts up. With this canceled, Pontiac has…what, in the pipeline? Nothing? This decision probably has less to do with the G8 ST’s profitability and more to do with the Pontiac brand’s future – or lack thereof.

    (BTW, long time reader, first time poster. You guys are doing a great job on this site, keep up the good work!)

  • avatar

    Producing niche, arguably even eccentric looking vehicles like this will continue to get GM laughed out of the industry. They have absolutely no business wasting resources on something like this. Good decision.

    Now, get down to somehow eliminating everything but Chevrolet and Cadillac and get to work on producing a few very good vehicles in each stable. The CTS is a great example. GM just can’t pretend to have the resources to do anything but if they want to survive. Better to have two fantastic vehicles from Chevrolet and two from Cadillac that people will actually buy than a shitload of offbeat exercises like this one that will die an early death and water down the marque.

  • avatar

    I’ve owned a couple El Caminos and would love to be able to pick from two or three new ones in today’s market. The early Ford Ranchero was also a great task machine.

    To those who call this a POS, please park a Chevy Luv beside it and tell us again which is a POS.

    General Motors has what, 5 “pickups” on the market? Three of which I cannot visualize what market they were seeing. What’s one more?

    Good economy, fun to drive, good reliability, $19,500 start, $24,500 optioned out would put it on radar.

    Bring in a few of these and we’ll use them as Flower cars. (The flower car is the one carrying the flowers behind the family limo, which is immediately behind the Hearse. For the Hearse we’ll use any Chrysler 300 wagon.)

  • avatar

    I think there is ALOT of practicality in a trucklet like this. Its capable of towing a trailer with motorcycles or a thousand pounds of whatever. You can carry all sorts of smallish boxes and parts in the bed.

    Most trucks I see are empty anyhow whether it be a work day or weekend.

    Yeah it probably wouldn’t sell very well here. We say we want a variety of vehicles to choose from but mostly we all want the same stuff from a narrow selection of vehicles. Not enough people daring to be different. Don’t have to be obnoxious to be different of course.

    FWIW I like the SSR. Never closer to one than in traffic but it is unique. I think GM had a great product even if it was too rich for me. The used market prices I could deal with except I am in that period in my life where I HAVE to have a backseat b/c a couple short people that look alot like my wife and I follow us around everywhere.

    FWIW I drove alot of the little Euro-utility vehicles back in the early 90s. I doubt many here would be satisfied with them (slow, very lightweight, more utility than looks) but they did carry an amazing amount of stuff and were pretty frugal. Better than you’d imagine.

    A friend in South Africa has the Ford equivalent to this Holden. He says it is very functional, he does drive it for his business, and he likes it very much. Unfortunately for some reason (previous owner gets alot of the blame for neglect) he has had alot of reliability problems with it.

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