Junkyard Find: 2005 Pontiac Vibe, Gambler 500 Edition
Several hooptie-centric road rallies take place every warm season in Front Range Colorado, including the 24 Hours of Lemons Rally, the Rocky Mountain Rambler 500 Rally, and the Colorado Gambler 500 Rally. Teams will build crazy stuff— say, a Lincoln Continental Mark IV filled with three tons of engine-heated water or a gutted Volkswagen R32 converted to a doorless post-apocalyptic Astroturf nightmare— or just acquire some random cheap car, decorate it, and beat it half to death on Rocky Mountain fire roads. As you’d expect, many of these cars go right to the nearest boneyard when the rally is over, and I find quite a few of them during my junkyard travels in northeastern Colorado. Here’s the “Good Vibes” Pontiac Vibe, found in Denver over the summer.
These cars are easy to spot because each organization applies a commemorative stencil. I think my influence has had something to do with this practice.
I couldn’t find any online information about the Good Vibes Pontiac, so I can’t say how well it did in the rally (presumably in 2020).
This is the base front-wheel-drive version with five-speed manual transmission; the Vibe GT had a more powerful engine and an available six-speed manual, but nearly all Vibe buyers got the automatic. Note the 115VAC power outlet, which Pontiac believed would induce millions of laptop-addicted youngsters to buy Vibes (it didn’t).
The Vibe was built on a Toyota platform and was closely related to the Matrix (not to mention the Corolla).
All Vibes were assembled at the NUMMI plant in Fremont, California, which is now the site of the Tesla Motors Factory. Production ran from the 2003 through 2010 model years, and the Pontiac Division sold new Vibes until the bitter end (however, the final NUMMI-built car was a red 2010 Corolla, not a Vibe).
The Vibe is getting around… fast.
A Toyota-badged, right-hand-drive version called the Voltz was exported from Fremont to Japan, where it was marketed to facially-pierced Tokyo skateboarders and their robot friends.
For links to 2,100+ additional Junkyard Finds, please visit the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.
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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