Autoextremist Hearts Screaming Chickens

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
autoextremist hearts screaming chickens

In Peter DeLorenzo’s last column, the self-styled AutoExtremist prescribed nichedom as an “elixir” for Pontiac. Reader reaction was so positive (apparently) that Sweet Pete has j umped off the deep end. People love the “excitement brand, whether it be for nostalgia reasons or because the attitude and spirit exemplified by Pontiac in its heyday.” In short, for nostalgia reasons. “But,” reckons DeLorenzo, “warm feelings of nostalgia won’t be enough to save Pontiac – or GM, for that matter.” Fast forward through some vintage bashing of “grim-reaping, hand-wringing, self-flagellating purveyors of doom in California and Washington,” and other “green-tinged” coastal elites, and what does DeLorenzo prescribe for the broken brand? Yup, “warm feelings of nostalgia.” Specifically, the return of the Firebird Trans-Am. The screaming chicken. Strap on the mullet, folks, this is going to get interesting.

If GM is going to offer three Pontiacs, I see a portfolio consisting of a full-sized, high-performance rear-wheel-drive sedan (instead of “G8” think Bonneville), along with a new rendition of the GTO (a smaller, sportier, bare-bones rear-wheel or all-wheel-drive coupe) and of course the car you see here – the 2011 Firebird Trans Am.

But why complete GM’s slide into malaise redux? Why wallow in the branding nightmare nostalgia? Because . . .

[R]emarkably enough, there are even people out there who actually want cars and trucks for the sheer unvarnished thrill of it, as terrifying and irresponsible as that idea may seem to the people hell-bent on turning this nation’s transportation fleet into a giant movie set for the sequel to I, Robot.

And for those of you out there who would dismiss this car as just another “Nostalgia Rod” that the newly sober country doesn’t need, I would say this: This resurrected Firebird Trans Am would only be the beginning of an exciting new era for Pontiac.

Pete would offer Screaming Chicken redux with GM’s 4.5-liter diesel V8 or dual-mode hybrid V8. Hey, how else do you sell a “nostalgia rod” that the newly sober country doesn’t need but by saddling it with huge engine cost premiums?

Besides, the Venn diagram for people who want the Firebird back and people who want an energy-efficient sportscar and the people who can afford one looks like three circles with several miles of blank space between them.

Sweet Pete thinks his nostalgia offensive would be cheap because it is based on the Camaro. But then that simply points out the Firebird’s original sin: it was always just another rebadged, cannibalizing marketing/keeping dealers happy exercise. The Firebird is in GM’s past, and that’s exactly where it should stay.

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  • Luther Luther on Mar 05, 2009

    "Pete would offer Screaming Chicken redux with GM’s 4.5-liter diesel V8" A proper rear-drive G6 and a proper Torrent (To compete with BMW X and Audi Q - Call it GX or something) is all they need. Pontiac sells on a GMC lot so hard-hat types would consider Ponitiac performance cars...Why does GM sell Buicks on GMC lots? Oh...It's GM.

  • Geeber Geeber on Mar 05, 2009
    John Williams: That’s the wrong place to look. European captive imports never did well in the US, for various reasons. The first-generation Ford Capri - sold by Lincoln Mercury dealers - sold well. Currency fluctuations priced the second-generation model (which made its U.S. debut in 1975) out of the market.