Junkyard Find: 2009 Pontiac G3 Wave

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

The 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!

Thus 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.

It 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.

For 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.

Like 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.

Several of the stickers refer to Denver cannabis-apparel company Chiefton Supply. Perhaps the car was owned by one of Chiefton’s employees.

Sharpie 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.

The 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.

You 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.

The 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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Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Maymar Maymar on Jul 06, 2020

    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.

  • RustbeltPete RustbeltPete on Jul 08, 2020

    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.

  • 3-On-The-Tree Lou_BCsame here I grew up on 2-stroke dirt bikes had a 1985 Yamaha IT200 2-strokes then a 1977 Suzuki GT750 2-stroke 750 streetike fast forward to 2002 as a young flight school Lieutenant I bought a 2002 suzuki Hayabusa 1300 up in Huntsville Alabama. Still have that bike.
  • Milton Rented one for about a month. Very solid EV. Not as fun as my Polestar, but for a go to family car, solid. Practical EV ownership is only made possible with a home charger.
  • J Love mine, but the steering wheel blocks dashboard a bit, can't see turn signals nor headlights icons. They could use the upper corners of the screen for the turn signals. Mileage is much lower than shown too, disappointing
  • Aja8888 NO!
  • OrpheusSail I once did. My first four cars were American made, and through an odd set of circumstances surrounding a divorce, I wound up with a '95 Nissan Maxima which was fourteen years old and had about 150,000 miles on it.It was drove better, had an amazing engine, and was more reliable than any of my American cars. This included a new '95 GMC pickup that went through five alternators in under two years while the dealership insisted that there was no underlying electrical problem while they tried to run the clock on the warranty.That was the end of 'buy American'. I've bought from Honda and VW since, and I'll consider just about anything except American now.