By on October 30, 2010


After spending years wandering the gray shadows that divide this life from the next, the undead brand Pontiac will be placed in its final resting place sometime tomorrow. Scientists at TTAC’s paranormal automotive brand research lab are still working to determine exactly when Pontiac slipped from relevance into the nightmare world of zombie-dom, but Pontiac has been living on borrowed time since being officially marked for death a year and a half ago. As of the end of October there were still 125 Pontiacs on dealer lots around the country, but dealer agreements covering the brand expire on Halloween, making the day of the dead the last day to buy a car from America’s biggest zombie brand. And what better way to celebrate Pontiac’s decades-long waking nightmare than by buying a G6 on the spookiest day of the year? Meanwhile, as Bob Lutz, Lee Iacocca, and Zombie Bunkie Knudsen converge on Oakland County to commit their faithful brand to the cold earth, let’s take one more moment to remember the brand that died too long before anyone noticed. Are your memories of Pontiac fond recollections of the brand’s vital youth, or spooky tales from its long, shambling un-death? Finally, will Pontiac actually stay dead this time?

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61 Comments on “Zombie Brand Pontiac Interred Tomorrow...”


  • avatar
    scottcom36

    I took my driving test in a ’71 Catalina. The car eventually racked up over 180,000 miles.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Here’s how I will remember Pontiac.
     
    The Grand Prix SJ of 1973-77, even as HP ratings crashed the long hood styling and coupe outrageous of it still speaks to me.  It’s definitely a car on my “love to own list.”
     
    The various Pontiac wagons with the “Safari” name slapped on them at various points in history.  I love the oxymoron of having a wagons from a supposed maker of “sporty” automobiles.  I can still clearly see the 1985 Pontiac Parisienne Safari owned by my buddy Doug’s family.  All eight seats were filled when that family headed off to church.  Maroon with the immortal fake wood sides and that stately hood ornament.  I want one of those too but that has more to do with rare b-body lust than the car itself.
     
    I’ll remember all the Firebirds but especially the outrageous “Smokey and the Bandit” generation of T/As.  I want one of those two, and I just picked up the three DVD set of all the movies.
     
    I’ll also remember the Pontiac Trans Sport and Montana, but not fondly.  Just because I spent too many hours riding in ones belonging to other people.
     
    Lastly I’ll remember the 1st gen Vibe (2003-2008.)  Why?  Because I ride in one several times a week (belongs to my fiance) and because whenever I drive it I love what a well sorted little chassis it is.  (I know it’s a Matrix but hey, I’d argue that for a variety of reasons the Pontiac was a better value.)  It is also the vehicle that I learned to drive stick in.  (BTW my girl’s best friend owns a Matrix of the same generation and it took them a while to figure out that they were the same car.  LOL.)  I would mind having a Vibe GT AWD, but only with the stick.  (Which is damn rare, BTW.)
     
    Requiescat in pace

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      (Sorry I had to add.)  And how could I forget the 1993 Pontiac Bonneville my father purchased shortly after I left for college in 1995?  H-body PERFECTION!  Stone reliable 3800/4T60E combo, damn good handling, attractive aluminum turbine style wheels, whale tail spoiler, good rear seat room.  It was a base model SE with with 6 passenger seating, but when the armrest was down, you couldn’t even tell.  Grey interior, good sight-lines.  The only reason I would want one is that I know I could drive the doors off of it (hundreds of thousands of miles) with a smile on my face.  I think that Bonne is still my fathers favorite family car since he gave up his coupes in 1985.
       
      His best friend liked it so much he went out and bought a brand new 1996 SLE model in deep green with a tan cloth interior (still my favorite color combo) and put over 250,000 trouble free miles on it.

    • 0 avatar
      ott

      +1 on the Bonnie. Best car I ever owned.
      +2 on the T/A. Wish I’d never sold my 79 Tenth Anniversary–sniff…

    • 0 avatar
      Trend-Shifter

      Hey Eduacator Dan,

      My son is now 25.   When he was 16 we got a 39,000 original mile Grand Prix as his first car.   Love the bucket seats, console, and sunroof.     He still has it today! 
       
      Through out his high school years we kept modifying it.  It was a good learning experience for a young man.   Stereo system, lowering, oversize sway bars, wheels & tires, and all the external mods we could do to get the 7:6 to 1 compression ratio 400 engine to run faster at Milan dragway.    High 15s was the best it ever did.   But it handled amazing for the yacht it was with our modifications. 
      Right now it has about 83,000 miles.  It was one of the most reliable cars our family had. 

      When he started college he still had the Pontiac bug.  So we got him a 67 4-door Catalina as his college beater car.    It had snow tires at all 4 corners to deal with the winters at Central Michigan University.     

      Now since Pontiac is no longer, he got a new Mazda 3 hatch for him & his new wife. 
      So GM probably lost a potential long term customer.        

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      +1 for the Bonneville.  I rented one on a visit to California in ’93, drove it all over for 2 weeks.  I was amazed how well it handled on mountain roads in the Sierras, definitely not your father’s Bonneville.  I had reserved a Cavalier and haggled with the rental manager to upgrade to the Bonnie for 5 dollars a day extra.  Best fifty bucks I ever spent.

    • 0 avatar
      Sammy Hagar

      I would mind having a Vibe GT AWD, but only with the stick.  (Which is damn rare, BTW.)
       
      Yeah…that is pretty rare, as they never made an AWD GT.  You could get the AWD or the GT, but not together;  and the AWD only came with an A/T.  That said, there are a few guys on the GenVibe forum who have purchased Toyota superchargers off of Ebay and creatively plumbed them to fit the AWD;  the exhaust is also a problem, as the AWD had an independent rear suspension and the stock AWD exhaust will not work w/the supercharger.  That said, you’re still stuck w/the A/T in that scenario…though you do get the better rear suspension.  Either way, it’s a lot of work and $$$ to get to that point.
       
      BTW:  Yes, the Vibe was a well-sorted car.  I’m pretty sure it was the only Pontiac to be consistently rated a “best buy” by Consumer Reports (if C/R’s ratings mean anything to you).  I’ve had an ’05 AWD since new and it’s never been to the dealer for anything…completely reliable, sure-footed in the snow and reasonably fuel efficient, if not sporting (108hp).

  • avatar
    thebeelzebubtrigger

    Growing up my mom had a ’57 Star Chief, and my grandmother had a ’62 Catalina. Years later I owned a ’74 Grandville. They were all very fine cars. I think it’s a crying shame what GM did to Pontiac in the later years, but in a larger sense I blame the obsession with passive safety and idiot-proofing doodads that make it insanely expensive to develop new platforms and require nearly every car to be a half ton or more overweight.
     
    RIP, Pontiac!

  • avatar

    My kingdom for a Solstice.

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      My wife’s GXP running the Trifecta tune is, in some ways, even more fun to drive than my Viper that puts down almost twice the power. The Solstice (and not the already-aging-looks of the Saturn version) is probably one of GM’s most underrated cars.
       
      God-awful trunk though, with that “Mayan Pyramid” thing in there.

  • avatar
    newfdawg

    I have some rather fond memories of Pontiac from the sixties; my parents traded in a POS ’65 Chevy Impala for a ’66 Catalina-even as a four door sedan it excluded charisma which all Pontiacs at the time had lots of. They also had a ’71 LeMans which after having its compression
    chopped for unleaded gas ran well, they drove it for six years with virtually no problems. I would argue the decline of Pontiac began in the 70’s when the decentralized organizational structure of GM ended and Pontiac was basically relegated to selling restyled Chevrolets (Astre, Ventura II,
    1000, Sunbird, etc.). GM management became fixated on seeing how many models they could derive from a single platform, and with that cookie cutter approach Pontiac was severely limited with what they could do.

  • avatar
    ixim

    1967 Catalina 2DR Hardtop. White w/black vinyl roof. 389 2BBl, but still, awesome fast! Good looking, too.

  • avatar
    also Tom

    Cruising the streets of Brooklyn, NY in a 2 door ’63 421HO, wheel covers in the trunk, looking for trouble, girls, or both in any combination. Top of the world, Ma!!!!

  • avatar

    Pontiacs have been a part of my family growing up.  If it wasn’t the ’79 Grand Prix that shuttled the family around for nearly a decade, it was the 78 Bonneville that went from basic transport to lawn ornament by age 6.  Or the rust bucket ’77 GP that made me miss a bus trip to Chattanooga.  Or the ’85 6000LE that got ridiculously good gas mileage but creaked and moaned like an old battleship.  Or the ’97 Bonneville SSEI I lusted after as a kid.

    I grew up to have an aversion to red and blue velour interiors and cars that were either red or brown in color, because sadly that was how every Pontiac my family had came equipped.

  • avatar
    Monty

    I have far too memories of Pontiacs from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s to even begin to write a proper eulogy. (eugoogalizer?)

    Some of the most interesting and desireable cars came from the “Wide-Track” brand – until the thinkers at GM basically tarted up Chevy’s as Pontiacs, and destroyed the brand equity.

    Was there a finer automobile than the ’61 Parisienne 2+2 convertible? Or the ’70 Grand Prix? Or the ’66 Bonneville 2-door hardtop? Or the ’71 Le Mans Sport? Or the ’67 Grande Parisienne (Grandville in the U.S.)?

    One of my all time favourite cars I owned was a ’66 Strato Chief, with the 283 and Powerglide – a virtual bullet proof car (and it had the target practise bullet holes from a farmer’s kid to prove it!)

    • 0 avatar

      I lived in Niagara Falls, Ont. in 1969-70, as a young teen, and was fascinated by Canadian Pontiacs – they were for the most part fancy Chevies! The full size ones rode Chevy’s 119-inch wheelbase instead of the longer American Pontiac wheelbase. And once you got away from the:
      Strato Chief (American Catalina with less trim),
      Laurentian (Star Chief at about a Catalina trim level)
      Parisienne (trim somewhere between Star Chief and Bonneville depending on year)…
      …you got into models that were quite transparently Chevies, only with the Pontiac split grill. In 1969, these would be Acadian (Nova) and Beaumont (Chevelle). All the above ran Chevrolet drivetrains.
       
      If I’m not mistaken, the first Tempest/LeMans in Canada was 1970, replacing Beaumont.
       
      The American Grand Prix in those days was the Grande Parisienne. The first Grand Ville – on either side of the border – was 1971.
       
      I remember GTOs and Firebirds, and that they were the same as sold in America…and I assume the only American Pontiac drivetrains sold in the Great White North prior to the Tempest/LeMans’ arrival in 1970. The hi-po Beaumont, however, was called “SD-396” and like all other Canadian Pontiacs ran a Chevrolet engine.
       
      Wondering if part of Pontiac’s success in Canada in those days was the fact that they were different from American models, at a time when IIRC there was concern over Canadians losing their unique identity? Beaumont/Acadian used a Pontiac crest with two maple leaves vertically stacked inside. But I do remember seeing a lot of them when I lived up there.
       
      But what was successful in Canada was Pontiac’s path to oblivion here. The division approached badge engineering with breathtaking zeal beginning with the 1971 Ventura II, likely the first American Pontiac running a Chevy powertrain. By 1982 there was little reason for Pontiac to exist. The drivetrains had been homogenized and the badge engineering was embarrassing. I’ll give GM props for the last couple generations of Bonnevilles – there was no comparable Chevrolet model.
       
      Now that the marque is gone, GM has room in its divisional structure to take Chevrolet a couple notches upscale in the way Ford has done over the last 30 years.

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    Just took the G8 GT out for a romp.

  • avatar
    tiredoldmechanic

    I’ll always have a soft spot for pontiacs.  Here in the great white north they were always just tarted up Chevys, but they were very popular. In fact, even in GM’s glory days there were years that Pontiac outsold Chevy in Canada so there were lots of them around. I had a ’65 (with a 230 six and 3 on the tree), a “66 Custom Sport (think Impala SS with a pontiac body) with a 327 and a 1969 Parisienne that served a my winter car for 3 years. I finally harvested it for it’s 300 hp 350 chevy.
     There were lots of Chevys around of course, but Pontiac seemed to have a much larger slice of the market here than in the States at the time. I can’t help but wonder if the decision to drop Pontiac isn’t part of the reason that GM has fallen into a semi permanent 2nd place in sales here in Canada.
     Canadian Pontiacs did not have the charisma of the American ones but they were part of the landscape here for a long time and I am sorry to see them gone.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      In 1971 my buddies and I drove my 62 Pontiac, 261 cu in, three on the tree Oshawa to Vancouver and back.

      Memories of my dad standing in the driveway, “that POS won’t make it a hundred miles” I HAD to prove him wrong.

       

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    I did not realize that Pontiac still existed as of today.  This may explain the chart in the back of my newspaper today.  It listed car brands and their area dealers.  No Lincoln, but Pontiac was there.  I guess through today.
     
    Although I was in an Oldsmobile family, there were a lot of Pontiacs around in my youth.  Two different neighbors had 65, 66, 68 and 71 GTOs.  My grandma traded her 55 DeSoto for a used 64 Catalina that I really liked as a kid.  Later, she traded that on a new 69 Catalina, that seemed to me to be a real step down in quality and charisma.  My Uncle Bob had a 65 Catalina that was a really nice car.  A neighborhood friend’s dad bought a new 66 Bonneville that I really liked at the time.  Finally, I had my first accident in Mom’s 74 Luxury LeMans that she bought when the Olds dealer was out of Cutlasses late in the model year.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I figure around thirteen Pontiacs I’ve actually owned,and maybe ten os so other peoples cars.  When I was about eight my dad brought home a used 1960 Strato Chief it was the most beautifull  car I’d ever seen.

    Lets see, a 62 Laurention 2dr post a, 66 Parisienne 2 dr hdp. Oh I can’t forgt the 75 Parisienne. My recently sold 2000 Firebird rag top.
     Sixteen years old,and my girlfriends dad lettting me drive his 69 2+2.

     As kid I remember seeing my first American Pontiac, a 66 Bonneville convertible, 15 inch wheels and chrome everywhere. I was in awe.

    Working O.T. on weekends at GM driving Pontiac Grand Villes off the line. I thought I died and gone to heaven.

     I drive an Impala these days but Pontiac will allways have a place in my heart.

  • avatar

    If I had the money, I’d buy the rights to the Pontiac brand. I figure that revenues for licensing repro parts, scale models and t-shirts should be significant. It’s not clear, though, who owns the brand. At first, when GM said they were shuttering Pontiac, it was supposed to go with “Old GM” aka Motors Liquidation Co., but every time I’ve looked at the Motors Liquidation site, nothing relevant to the Pontiac brand is listed there.

    • 0 avatar
      Patrickj

      I suspect that GM will be very cautious about the rights to its brands.  Chinese makers could duplicate most anything from GM’s history quite profitably.
      If they had an American cooperator collect rusted shells (or a couple of pieces with an engraved VIN) that could be exported and rebuilt, the “new cars” need not meet modern standards.

  • avatar
    Syke

    ’66 Bonneville 2-door hardtop. Owned by my best friend, the nephew of the town’s Pontiac/Cadillac dealer (his dad was the new car manager). Well, of course. My dad was the Chevy dealer. Who did you expect me to pal around with, the two brothers who were the sons of the Ford dealer (the younger one was in my high school class)?

    Hey, we took things seriously back then.

  • avatar

    Parental vehicles, bought new.  73 GP with 455 and a 76 smogger with a 400.  Got my first speeding ticket, 79/55 in Paterson NJ, on Rt. 80 East.
    Good thing I was coasting down.  That huge hunk of metal got up to 115 before I lifted.  Along with my grandfather’s New Yorker it taught me to love road hugging weight.

  • avatar

    I can remember the excitement of the neighbors lining up 4 a ride in My Mom’s 63 GP, I payed with my matchbox on the ridges of the morrokide interior… I was 4 and preferred the Bonneville Conv…  My Grandma jad a Midnite Blue GP 63…  I remember being at Blauvelt Pontiac, and seeing the 71’s arrive, wondering why had Bonnevlle been Demoted To Grand Ville’s cachet…   My first car was a 67 Firebird which I loved… Later I bought a 85 Grand Am,
    my idea of a poor man’s ElDorado… I traded it  after a year and a half cuz it kept stalling  in the left turn only lane… Relaced with a $h!t brown Cavalier Convertible 5 spd which I drove, or suffered thru for 10 years… Only once ever saw another in that color. I will miss Pontiac. I hope one day The Firebird is resussetated.

  • avatar
    mdensch

    I have never owned a Pontiac and no one in my family, as far as I can recall, ever has either.  I remember riding in once, daughter of some friends of my parents had a ’67 Catalina 2-door hardtop.  I especially liked Pontiacs from that era and that 2-door with its sweeping fastback roofline seemed enormously long and elegant.
     
    The only other Pontiac that ever caught my eye was a gorgeous red G8 GXP with a 6-speed manual at our local dealer.  Bit of a temptation at the time and now and then I still think I should have snapped that one up.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Pontiac = Chevys with an out-of-touch Detroiter’s idea of a sporty body kit. And not the good Chevys.

    I once saw a Pontiac Grand something-or-other where the door cladding had fallen off to reveal the same door as the early-90s Buick (something, that name didn’t stick either) with the really awkward side crease.

  • avatar
    gottacook

    Pontiac died long ago. If you’re a Star Trek fan, the most relevant line of dialogue to describe the last few decades of Pontiac would be: “Doctor Corby was never here.”
    (Family Pontiacs while growing up – a friend of my parents’ was a dealer – were a ’63 Catalina three-row wagon, followed by a ’65 Bonneville two-row wagon and a ’65 Bonneville convertible, ’67 GTO with automatic on column, ’67 Executive three-row wagon, and ’74 Luxury LeMans two-door. The latter had a good drivetrain with “radial tuned suspension” but was poorly built, as many others can verify. Those mid-’60s Pontiacs were third-ranked in U.S. sales and for good reason. I ended up buying a used ’66 Bonneville convertible at age 18 and drove it for 17 years.)

  • avatar
    Demetri

    I only remember the god awful Pontiac styling from the 90s and early-mid 2000s.  All the plastic cladding and fake scoops… it’s the worst ever.  Adam Carolla said a while back that “Pontiac [styles] cars for people with learning disabilities.  They’re almost insulting.  I don’t know how they’ve been around this long.”

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    A lot of great Pontiac memories over the years.
    The best selling rental at the moment is a… four door 1998 Pontiac Sunfire. Long-term renters always want something sporty and economical.
    I had a red Sunfire convertible about a year ago with only 35k or so. Everything worked on it. It got a lot of gawkers and sold for a pretty penny.
    I’ve likely owned every type of Pontiac that was made in the 1990’s. The body cladding and plasticized interiors were never to my liking. But a lot of folks chose to buy one over the Chevy econoboxes and the Buick/Olds barges.
     

  • avatar

    The first new car that I remember my parents buying was a 1961 Pontiac Catalina in a medium blue. I went with my dad when he picked it up and he drove it for most of the 1960s until the transmission failed. After we moved to the suburbs, my school was about a mile’s drive from our house, and on the way to my dad’s veterinary hospital so he’d drop me off. About halfway there, the radio would be warmed up and Bud Guest’s Sunny Side Of The Street show on WJR would come on (Paul W. Smith took over from the late J.P. McCarthy who inherited the seat at Detroit’s top morning drive time show from Guest).
    I’m pretty sure that somewhere my brother still has that vacuum tube radio. In my review of the Mazda 3 S Grand Touring, which comes with all the tech bells and whistles, I mentioned how waiting 10-15 seconds for the infotainment system to bring up an audio source reminded me of the radio in that Pontiac. Plus que change.
    The Catalina had a 389 in it. The next new car my folks bought was a ’66 Dynamic 88 Oldsmobile with a 425 & a 4 barrel carb. That would put rubber down as long as you kept your foot down. The Olds got totaled by a deer my dad hit in I-80 in PA. Took out everything from the water pump forward. By then, Jews’ hostility to FoMoCo products had faded (no small part due to the actions of Henry Ford II) and my dad replaced the Olds with a ’72 Mercury Monterey, which he liked so much he gave it to my brother and bought a fully loaded ’74 Grand Marquis Brougham. Somewhere along there we got an SS-in-name-only ’66 Impala with a 283 and 2 speed powerglide with a console and bucket seats. It became my hand me down when I got my license and I added an 8-Track and a FM radio.

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      Ronnie:

      Thanks for the trip down memory lane! I had forgotten Sunny Side of the Street and WJR – I grew up in Windsor during the early ’60s, and that was the radio station of choice for my parents. Of course, my brother and I always wanted to listen to the station that played all the great Motown stuff! I can’t for the life of me remember the call letters, though.

      Our family was Mopar, but our next door neighbour brought home a ’65 Parisienne 2 door fastback coupe, and it was the most beautiful car I had ever seen up to that point. Green with a mint green vinyl roof and green leather BUCKET seats. Those were the days when your neighbours were close friends and all the parents treated all the kids as their own. I can remember going to the local lumber store in that Pontiac with a whole host of kids!

  • avatar
    Terry

    My fond Pontiac memory is being in my dad’s ’67 GTO(bought at my behest at age 15 thinking inheritance someday) drag-racing my uncle in his ’67 Gran Prix 428.   Both cars were surprisingly equal in acceleration.
    My less-than-fond  remembrances were of replacing the stripped timing gear and chain in my girlfriend’s(now wife) ’68 Firebird 350, followed by the heater hoses that disappeared behind the right fender apron, and then the valve cover gasket/engine mount jobs.
     
     
     

  • avatar
    rudiger

    It’s not difficult to figure out when Pontiac’s last gasp occurred. It was when the geniuses at GM made the decision in the late nineties to abandon the f-body in favor of developing stuff like the Aztek and SSR. When a brand that’s on the ropes gets saddled with a vehicle that quickly becomes known as one of ‘the worst vehicles of all time’, there’s simply no hope for survival after that. Maybe if they had instead came out with today’s Camaro (along with a Firebird variant) back then, well, things might have turned out a bit differently.

    The Solstice, like the Plymouth Prowler, was too little, too late to save the once proud brand.

    Ironically, the Aztek and SSR might not have been such huge failures were it not for GM’s typical greed. Besides their other deteriments (styling is most often cited), both were just too darn expensive for a demographic that would have actually bought them.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      +1
       
      The SSR was one of the biggest nut punches ever delivered by GM.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Not sure if you meant to imply that the SSR was a Pontiac, but it was a Chevy.
       
      The Aztec actually wasn’t a bad vehicle.  The styling did it in, but the car itself was wholely competent as a crossoverish minivanish practical people mover with a little bit of outdoorsy intent.  Plus, GM was able to make some money off of the platform with the Buick Rendevouz which sold pretty well.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      @ Nullo:
       
      The Aztec was a moderately competent vehicle that should have gone to GMC.

    • 0 avatar
      18726543

      If the Aztek shared the Rendezvou’s reliability I have trouble believing it wasn’t a bad vehicle.  I briefly wrenched for a Buick dealer about 5 years ago and…my god…at about 45k the vehicle would just crumble!  Window motors, lower intake gaskets (more a 3.4L problem), wheel bearings/abs sensors, electrical gremlins, shocks, rotors rusting away…  This thing fit right in with the Montana/Venture/Silhouette trio.  The Terrazas/Uplanders were no shining stars either. 

      But I digress. 

      My favorite memory of Pontiac had to be…a guy down the street from my highschool had one of the Yellow-with-black-wheel 35th Anniversarie collector edition WS6’s.  I always thought the 01-02 Firebird WS6 was about the coolest looking car ever made and that option package just sealed the deal. 

  • avatar
    rudiger

    GM cancelled the f-body Camaro/Firebird in the late nineties, instead deciding to develop stuff like the SSR/Aztek. The point is, the Firebird version of the f-body (which there surely would have been had the Camaro been built at the time) has been an integral part of Pontiac in much the same way the Mustang is an integral part of Ford.

    Chevrolet could get away with losing the Camaro for the SSR (even if the SSR bombed, which it did) since they always had the Corvette.

    But Pontiac losing the Firebird in lieu of something like the Aztek? The idea wasn’t really in keeping with GM’s ‘performance’ division. It’s a shame the plug was pulled on Pontiac before the Aussie ST ‘Hell Camino’ was able to be released. It might not have been enough to save Pontiac, but we’ll never know.

  • avatar
    Vetteman

    I totally agree with  18726543 about The Buick Rendevous.  I spent 2005 as Service manager of a Chevy Buick store and that was a horrible vehicle in respect to service related nightmares.  From the horrific intake gasket problems to On star issues to brake problems , and water leaks  and of course they all seemed to occur just out of warranty . Back to the Aztek when that POS came out  I became truly ashamed that I worked for a GM dealer.  How could one of the greatest companys in America have come to this.  I found it very hard the last years of my career working at Gm stores to defend what they had become. I want to cry just thinking about this once great company

    • 0 avatar
      ixim

      Vetteman, you’re right about too many of the 2002 and 2003 Rondys. Wheel bearings and computer problems, AWD, etc., etc. But my FWD 2004 has had zero problems since new at 107,000 miles [my brother has it now]. The ’06 and ’07’s were even better with the 3.5l motor and they fetch premium prices as used cars today.
      The Aztek was probably the best [!] idea the dying Pontiac Division had at the time. Which is why there better be no more of them – GM mismanagement at its worst.

  • avatar

    Out of all the cars I’ve owned, only one was a Pontiac, a red on red 1980 Firebird Formula. I loved the way that car handled and drove, and wished it had the 400 engine instead of the 305 it had. The power window switch on the passenger side didn’t work; I discovered that the switch mechanism could be simply inverted in place. I don’t remember any other gimp-GM problems the car had.
    A girl friend of my wife’s who lived with us for a while had – for a couple of months – a bronze and white ’57 Star Chief 2-door hardtop. This rig had beautiful leather seats except for the tear clear across the driver’s side in front, a Hydramatic that would only work in second and fourth, and windshield wiper cables that hung down from under the dash. Lord only knows who’d owned it before she got it, and I don’t even remember what happened to it. Going down the road on a nice day it could still remind me of what a nice car it had been.

  • avatar

    My brother’s best friend, Bob, whose father was a Harvard Law prof, had a ’63 Grand Prix. I road in that thing a couple of times, and it epitomized everything I loved about GM at the time: the power, the fabulous interior that looked a bit like what I’d associate with a night club now, and the gorgeous styling. I loved all the Pontiacs through ’65 or so, and back into the ’50s.
    Of course, I became quite skeptical of American cars in the ’70s, and that stuck with me. Nonetheless, my doctor in the ’80s, early ’90s, an elderly woman who previously had driven Saabs and tuned her own, had switched to Pontiacs, and convinced me to try one when I was car shopping ’92-93 (I spent a year at it, going out with a friend every couple of weeks to try different cars, enjoyed the hell out of it). I did try a Pontiac, and it really was a nice car, but there were two problems ***for me***: lack of clutch, and great girth.
    When I was car shopping, I always really put the cars through their paces. I would take sharp corners really fast (the Camry failed this test by plowing), I would get up to 60-65 on the highway and jerk the thing into the next lane. The Pontiac performed well but the salesman told me to cool it. (Most salesmen put up with this stuff admirably.)

  • avatar
    wstansfi

    About the Aztec…
    I had one briefly as a rental in Florida – it got me around ok, and aside from being wimpy on the power side – I had no specific complaints.
    Regarding the styling, the Aztec has made a name for itself as one of the ugliest vehicles of all time, and yet, really, it was just ahead of its time. If you look around, there is not very much difference between the Aztec and the average CUV/Crossover. If anything, I think the Aztec has several contemporary crossovers beat on styling. So there you go. Right car, ten years too early.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      No, the production Aztek was most definitely not the right car. What was the right car was the Aztek concept which was smaller and aimed at the youth market. GM made the fatal error of moving the market demographic upmarket (in both price and age) by basing what the Aztek eventually became on the minivan chassis. That moved the Aztek out of a young person’s vehicle (the type of car-consumer that would actually have liked the outré styling) into an older group that wouldn’t be caught dead driving something that looked like the result of a mating of an old Korean LeMans and a garbage truck.

      Look at how today’s out-of-the-box styling attempts are built and marketed. The Nissan Cube and Juke, and the Kia Soul are all small, relatively inexpensive. Had Nissan and/or Kia pumped up those vehicles to the minivan class (like GM tried to do with the Aztek), they all would have sold just as badly.

      Ironically, the market for those small, inexpensive, odd-looking vehicles also swings to the other end of the demographic to much older consumers. This was discovered with the PT Cruiser (released at the same time as the Aztek), whose success can be traced to many older buyers who many might assume would be driving Buicks or Mercury Grand Marquis’. This wasn’t expected and a big reason Chrysler was caught flat-footed by underestimating the demand.

      The Aztek missed all these targets by a wide margin and failed miserably, contributing a great deal to Pontiac’s demise.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @Rudiger: While the oddball styling exercises like the Juke and the Soul are marketed to young people, the combination of low price and fairly practical body style is what lassos the more ahem, mature buyer. Like the PT Cruiser of 2000, and the xB of 2005, I’d be wiling to bet that the Juke and Soul end up with a great proportion of older buyers who can stomach the styling to put up with the low price and utility. I think the Cube will be a Nissan Deadly Sin at some point.
      The Aztek was one of those vehicles you either “got” or didn’t; many of the owners that I spoke to loved the car. I think GM looked at larger vehicles, like Explorers, as the competition for this car, not something smaller than this size. The concept of the car is quite common today, and the styling has aged well. It doesn’t look out of the ordinary 10 years after it’s release. Wstansfi comments are right, it was a ground breaking car. If GM were to release this same model today (albeit with styling in accordance with the new GM’s brand alignment), we’d be criticizing them for making a “me-too” machine.

    • 0 avatar
      cfclark

      The Aztek looks like something a middle-aged high school chemistry teacher with a meth-cooking business on the side might drive. ;)
       
      Only one Pontiac in my family, my dad’s ’64 326 LeMans, the car he was driving when he started dating my mother (later traded for a ’68 Impala SS that was improbably the family car for several years). I’ll now pause for a moment of silence.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    My memories of the “Tin Indian” are permanently framed by the ’68 GTO and the ’69 Grand Prix. I never owned a Pontiac but many of my friends did including the aforementioned GTO (with a 428 no less) and the Grand Prix Model J that also had a 428. Both were big, heavy solid, comfortable, fast cars.

    The crap that has paraded around in disguise under the Pontiac banner in the ensuing years will never tarnish my fondness for those two ’60’s beasts.

  • avatar
    Mike-Hgl

    Snagged an 09 G6 GXP before the brand expired. 3.6 liter has plenty of zip and it’s a good looking ride. Minimal cladding, just a low profile spoiler and nice, fat duals. We have had a variety of Pontiacs through the years, including a 98 Montana that was great transportation ( and full of cladding) and a 89 Grand Prix SE that ate wheel rotors for dinner. But that one had the jet fighter inspired dash and really was a neat looker at night.
    My Gramps had a 69 Grand Prix SJ with the 455. Fond memories as an impressionable kid flying down the Michigan backroads with Gramps letting me hold the wheel while he got a swig of “snakebite”. 
    One positive attribute for the body cladding: It hid rust.

  • avatar
    Mike-Hgl

    I going to miss Pontiac, even with all the associated warts. It seems they were just getting their act togeather when the axe fell. I always thought GM killed the wrong divisions anyways. In my world the brands that died would have been GMC, Hummer, Olds (duh) and Buick. That would leave Pontiac for the sporting crowd, Chevy for mass appeal and trucks, Caddy for the upper crust and Saturn as a tool for import badging, which it was already doing successfully.
    GM could have left Buick for the Chinese since it is so revered there. 

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I’ve owned several Pontiacs over the years, and still have three in the driveway. Our most recent, an 09 G6 has been the best one we’ve owned. I guess my most memorable Pontiac was the 83 Trans Am, I bought to impress a young lady who could have cared less about me (or the car). It was the V8/5 speed combo, and after the POS Mercury Capri Turbo that it replaced, the “big” motor was a young man’s tire burning dream. Unfortunately, the T/A was also a POS, although my treatment of it at the time made matters worse.
     
    I wasn’t aware that Pontiac expired this week, I thought it happened last year. I guess that explains why our local PBG dealer hasn’t taken down his Pontiac sign yet. I imagine that will change soon, though.
     
    Like Mercury (my other automotive love), I will bid Pontiac a fond “Auf Widersehen”.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    G8 GT.  The only Pontiac in my lifetime that made me want to darken the doors of a Pontiac dealership.  The car was awesome, but no way was I forking over $32k large for a company with the uncertain future of GM circa June 2009.

  • avatar
    nikita

    The only Pontiac in our family was a mint green ’55 Catalina 2-door sedan that was my father’s first new car purchase. For reasons unknown, he bought a few Chevys and Oldsmobiles, but never another Pontiac. I loved the style of the ’60’s Pontiacs, but never owned one myself. Later stuff was just awful, with all the cladding.

  • avatar
    ckbarrus

    My first car was a 1973 Grand Prix. Big beast of a car that I still remember fondly: http://www.flickr.com/photos/quartzcity/3369140343/

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