By on July 6, 2020

2009 Pontiac G3 Wave in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe years 2008 and 2009 were interesting times for GM, with the company filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on June 1, 2009 and the Pontiac Division clearly on the ropes (despite the Bondo applied over Pontiac’s rusty image by the Solstice).

To The General’s warlords, only one solution to Pontiac’s woes made sense: take the Chevy Aveo, itself a South Korea-built Daewoo Kalos, and give it Pontiac badges!

2009 Pontiac G3 Wave in Colorado junkyard, hatch badge - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThus was the G3 born. Available for only the 2009 model year, the G3 didn’t get much chance to cannibalize Aveo sales prior to the demise of Pontiac early in the 2010 model year.

2009 Pontiac G3 Wave in Colorado junkyard, GM fender badge - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIt appears that the Canadian-market “G3 Wave” name was used on some U.S.-market GM promotional materials as the final choppers left the roof of the Pontiac Embassy, so I’m including it in the headline just to annoy… well, nobody. About a dozen people seem to know the G3 even existed, which makes it one of the rarest Pontiacs ever made.

2009 Pontiac G3 Wave in Colorado junkyard, hatch badge - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFor this reason, I’ve been trying to find a discarded G3 for years. Finally, this kicky, excitement-packed red hatchback showed up in one of my favorite Denver yards. Next on my junkyard shopping list of obscure GM machines is the all-but-nonexistent Saab 9-4X.

2009 Pontiac G3 Wave in Colorado junkyard, stoney-ass stickers - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsLike its Aveo5 sibling, the G3 depreciated quickly. Recognizing the disposable nature of this car, its final owner applied an assortment of dank decals all over the dash.

2009 Pontiac G3 Wave in Colorado junkyard, stoney-ass stickers - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsSeveral of the stickers refer to Denver cannabis-apparel company Chiefton Supply. Perhaps the car was owned by one of Chiefton’s employees.

2009 Pontiac G3 Wave in Colorado junkyard, Sharpie graffiti - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsSharpie graffiti on a car’s interior reduces resale value, but that’s not much of a concern with a G3. This car appears to have some affiliation with the Denver musicians of The Floating Generation; I looked for this G3 in some of TFG’s videos (after I found The Rellies’ Toyota TownAce in a San Jose yard, I always chase down such leads) but came up blank.

2009 Pontiac G3 Wave in Colorado junkyard, hood pin - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe cheap hood pins coupled with old front-end damage indicate that a fender-bender broke the factory hood latch and a cheap repair ensued. At that point, the countdown to junkyardization began.

2009 Pontiac G3 Wave in Colorado junkyard, cigar packages - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsYou know those ads for used cars that brag about nonsmoker former owners? When you have a G3, worries about tobacco smell become irrelevant, so you might as well fire up the rankest gas-station stogies you can find.

2009 Pontiac G3 Wave in Colorado junkyard, emissions decal - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Pontiac brand disappeared soon after this car left the showrooms, and its Aveo sibling moved aside for its Sonic replacement for 2012. I’ll see if I can track down a defunct 2010 G6 for a future Junkyard Find.

By the time the G3 appeared in American Pontiac dealerships, nobody at GM felt like spending money on glitzy TV commercials for it. For that reason, we’ll watch this action-packed South Korean-market Daewoo Kalos ad, which is set in the United States. This commercial came out around the same time as the cell doors clanged shut on Daewoo Group founder Kim Woo Choong.

You can still buy the sedan version of the G3 to this day, if you live in a region in which the Uzbekistan-built Ravon Nexia R3 is sold.

АвтоЗАЗ builds a Ukrainian-market version called the Vida, too.

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33 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2009 Pontiac G3 Wave...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I didn’t even know this thing existed, apparently no one else did either :(

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Making a bad situation worse, the dealer affixed a badge visible from outer space.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The badge doesn’t strike me as all that large, compared to those of other dealers. It probably looked better on cars that weren’t so diminutive.

      But I would’ve had it removed, myself.

  • avatar
    Sobro

    By the looks of it not a single part has been salvaged. From “Wide Track” to “Maybe there’s one behind the Saab 9-4X in the back”

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    As GM raced toward bankruptcy and the death of Pontiac shortly thereafter, dealers were being extorted to take these abominations. I recall hearing during that time period from a salesman over at the local dealer that they couldn’t get G6s without taking a certain number of G3s in the deal. (G6 they could actually sell, Grand Am owners eventually need cars too.)

  • avatar
    s_a_p

    I suspect that only the shell of those rank gas station stogies was ever smoked. Although the weapons grade cannabis that is now common makes that seem like a bad idea unless you shared it with like 20 people.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Alas, this poor car was born fifteen years too late to have the chance to proudly display an Asüna badge. The universe is so unfair!

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      Asünas were built by Isuzu and Suzuki. These cars didn’t deserve an Asüna badge.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        Nope, in addition to the Asuna-badged Isuzu Impulse and Suzuki Sidekick, they also had a version of the Daewoo-built Opel Kadett (more infamously sold in North America as the Pontiac LeMans).

        Plus, it’s GM – there’s not much they’re not willing to p!$$ away.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        Asuna also got a version of the Opel Kadett by way of Daewoo (AKA the infamous Pontiac LeMans). Plus, nothing is sacred at GM.

        • 0 avatar
          JimC2

          I wonder what its Asüna name would have been? It could have bee the word for “wave” from another language, but the kind of wave that a drowning person makes when signaling for help?

          Better yet, since 2009 was during the TTAC GM Death Watch era, what about a word that could mean wave but also sorta captures a death throe… The Italian verb “agitare” is perfect- it’s a deliciously ironic pun while also having an exotic, automotive sound.

          I dub this car the Asüna Agitaré.

          Just try to imagine the clever advertising in the Asüna tradition, adorable animated short films with an a cappella ear worm for the soundtrack…

          Heh heh heh

          You’re welcome, everybody.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I’ve seen exactly one of these. It’s parked next door to a friend of mine where they use it as a city runabout.
    Back when a seemingly dying Pontiac was ditching historic names and giving cars these tech sounding monikers.
    There are two 9-4X’s listed on eBay. The Saab section actually has a pull down marker for it instead of in other.

  • avatar

    As a fan of the Aveo (yes, we exist and there even was a fan site), this is a very rare find indeed. I’ve only seen about three G3’s in the wild and our local Carmax recently had a red one, like this one, with a manual for sale. I’ve always like the Pontiac version; the styling was better than the nose-heavy redone Aveo of the same year and the interior touches, like the italic racy gauge font, were more sporting. Obviously, it’s still the same generic economy car bones underneath.

    The Aveo gets a lot of slack in car enthusiast sites, but I had good experiences with owning not one, but two. The first, a first year ’04, did have a creaky suspension that was common and I only kept it three years. The second, an ’08, had those issues resolved. We had the ’08 until as recent as 2018 when it reached over 100k miles, but needed a new AC compressor. The cost was more than we wanted to spend on the car at that point. Replacement parts are expensive for such a cheap car.

    Up until then it was mechanically sound with no issues. The timing belt replacement at 60k miles is annoying and expensive. But it started every time, never leaked, never left us stranded, and nothing ever fell off or broke off. Considering the price, we were thrilled to get a decade of loyal service from it. We did a cross country trip twice in it and even went to Canada. It was basic and cruise control would’ve been appreciated. Still, it was comfortable, quiet on the highway, and drove just fine. It’ll never be confused as a race car, yet given its modest purpose in life, was perfectly fine.

    We liked it so much that we replaced it with yet another Korean sourced GM, the current generation Spark.

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      Even went to Canada, eh? I hope you were awarded isolation pay for such derring-do. Once there, if you had enquired, you might have discovered that the Aveo engine’s problem was often that the cam belt pulley sometimes came loose on the camshaft. Oops! A belt change was moot at that point. Or the problem was blamed on a faulty camshaft position sensor. Upon replacing the belt the idler tension pulley had a tendency to fly to pieces. I used to watch these things wobble on gentle curves, boinging gently away on the rear suspension. The fact that a forum existed for these rolling pieces of Daewoo junk surprises me not. There are no doubt forums for chipped coffee mugs as well.

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      As you are a former owner I will defer to your judgement on that experience. However, in Canada these were sold not just as Aveos and Waves, but also as the “New Suzuki Swift”.

      Meanwhile the rest of the world got… the REAL Suzuki Swift.

      I will never forgive GM for that.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    As you point out, the G3 was prior to GM’s unified global electrical architecture, which took place circa 2010 (starting with, in the US, the 2010 Equinox, Terrain, 9-5 and Camaro).

    Even though it was in no way electrically related to most of what GM sold at the time, funny that they managed to still cram in the corporate GM head unit in. But that’s back when they were double-DIN units, so it would have been easy.

    GM probably disables the standard chime generator on the radios in this car, as the G3/Aveo/Daewoo would have come with a separate chime already.

    Finally, the GM “Mark of Excellence” badges, that adorned the sides of their cars, went away right after GM declared bankruptcy in 2009, since the name was trash at that point and it didn’t do to remind people of it. For the most part, all of the cars with the badges are 2006-2009 units. A few MY2010 cars (like the SRX and Camaro) did escape the factory with the MoE badges, but that’s probably because they were introduced and produced in early calendar-year 2009.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    Huh, I always thought these were Canadian/Mexican(?) market only. Even more unusually, late last year I saw a Pontiac G_2_ at a local SoCal junkyard. I could only assume it was a Mexico car that never made it back south of the border.

  • avatar

    My understanding is that Pontiac dealers DEMANDED a version of the Chevy Cobalt, and so received the G5.

    The G3 came along on the G5’s heels.

    IIRC, Pontiac was making an attempt – however feeble – to become an American Mazda/BMW…a brand known for building cars you would enjoy driving. So there were no plans to sell a split-grill Cobalt/Aveo until the dealers demanded it.

    • 0 avatar

      “building cars you would enjoy driving”

      You cannot be serious. G6 (new back then) was one of the most boring cars I ever experienced, and boredom started with interior. I had more fun driving my Lada Sputnik (it had MT though). True, Porsche was somehow involved in development of Lada.

  • avatar
    lstanley

    I enjoy the idea that there are probably a fair number of people’s resumes out there with all the various roles required to make this car happen.

    marketing manager
    engineering supervisor
    front end designer
    etc etc

    Hopefully each of them has a good laugh and a better job because of their time working on the Pontiac G3.

  • avatar
    Runfromcheney

    From my understanding, GM only made the G3 and G5 because dealerships were demanding them. Lutz’s plan was for Pontiac to become a small, performance-minded niche brand like what Dodge has become post-Fiat merger but Pontiac’s dealers resisted it every step of the way due to the potential loss of volume. So once gas prices went through the roof, the dealers wouldn’t stop screaming and howling for cheap, fuel efficient economy cars. GM finally caved and hastily rebadged the Aveo and Cobalt into the G3/G5 to pacify them, thus why there was no real marketing support behind either car.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I have seen dozens of G3’s mainly in university and college parking lots, or shopping malls favoured by retirees in Kingston Ontario.

    Currently there are at least 3 Pontiac G6’s in my neighbourhood. All being driven regularly.

    But then we also have a Saab 9-7x in the neighbourhood.

  • avatar
    MKizzy

    Not even the best milk carton pic ever can take away from the fact this vehicles should’ve never existed as a Pontiac (or a Chevy for that matter). If GM had the good sense to keep Geo around a few more years, the G3 as a marginally nicer looking Ave would’ve been a decent fit in its lineup until GM could replace its lineup of odd little cars with odd little trucklets.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I’ve only ever seen a couple of these in the wild. Also, nice April 1975 reference (“…as the final choppers left the roof of the Pontiac Embassy…”).

  • avatar
    Maymar

    As a few others have noted, these were pretty common in Canada, as we got them much earlier. I think since the Cobalt/G5 Pursuit wasn’t the absolute loss leader that the Cavalier/Sunfire was, dealers wanted something cheap to get cheap buyers in to door (certainly rather than losing them to the Chevy dealer across the road).

    That said, at this point, I think I might be more likely to see Sunfires than G3/Waves out in the wild.

  • avatar
    rustbeltPete

    What timing, I just saw one today, for the first time that I can recall, and I thought someone just made a Pontiac grill for their sonic. Did not know they even existed.

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