• Pontiac are no more

    New forum-pontiac_logo.jpg Pontiac was the highest-profile victim of the crisis in the American car industry.
    The decision in 2009 by General Motors to discontinue the brand shocked a generation of petrol heads who fell in love with the all American muscle cars the company developed in the 1960 and 70s. The last models to roll off the prodction lines was in 2010.
    We are talking about cars like the Pontiac Firebird, The Grand Am and the GTO. Like Route 66, roadside diners and baseball all of these vehicles have become genuine artefacts of U.S. culture.
    The company started out in 1907 as the Oakland Motor Company in Pontiac, Michigan before being bought in 1909 by General Motors.

    The GTO transformed Pontiac into a muscle car brand. The GTO transformed Pontiac into a muscle car brand. General Motors first began branding the cars under the Pontiac name in 1926.
    Originally the Pontiac brand was used to fill the gap for motorists who could afford better than a Chevrolet but who could not quite stretch to an Oldsmobile. At this stage there was nothing remarkable to single the cars out from others on the market. Things began to change when the company employed John De Lorean, who later founded the ill-fated De Lorean Motor Company, as its new head of engineering in 1956.

    New forum-gto.jpgThe GTO is born
    Pontiac started test driving a saloon car fitted with powerful V8 engines. However, the vehicle did not meet General Motors' corporate guidelines because they were considered too fast and breached an agreement with other manufacturers within the GM group to avoid building performance cars. Regardless of that a handful of the cars were built and Pontiac salesman drove them around to test public reaction. They got 5,000 orders. Once the board at General Motors found out the GTO was born. "At the time Pontiac were doing things almost intentionally against the rules," says Jim Hopson communication manager for Pontiac. "Someone once told me they would have run a pirate flag up a pole at Pontiac HQ if they could. But they were successful therefore the board could not stop them," he says. The popularity of the car encouraged the company to transform itself into a performance brand.

    Something different
    In 1964, Pontiac inspired Ronnie and the Daytonas to write a song called "Little GTO" - a track that reached number four in the American charts.
    Alongside the GTO the company developed the Grand Prix and the Firebird during the 1960s, all of them muscle cars.

    New forum-1978_trans-am_bandit.jpgThe company's profile went global in the 1970s when Burt Reynolds drove a black and gold Firebird in the hit film Smokey and the Bandit.
    The car still has an enduring appeal today.
    Steve Martin from Birmingham owns an exact replica of the one seen in the movie.
    After seeing the film as a boy he fell in love with the vehicle and vowed to own it one day.
    He managed to buy one four years ago and says he will never sell it.
    "Even if you drive it around now little kids who are five years old don't know what it is, but they know it is something different," he says.

    One brand too many
    Pontiac had more success in the 1970s with the Firebird Grand Am and the Trans Am.
    But in the late 1990s General Motors began to cut back on its performance image and mechanical problems with some of the later models damaged the company's reputation with people who bought sports cars. At the same time you can understand how GM executives have been forced to take this decision when they have. During these hard economic times, this was one product brand too many. In years to come it is clear people will remember the brand for what it once was rather than what it has become.

    New forum-hppp_1002_01_o-2010_pontiac_trans_am-morgan_concept.jpg

    Pontiac vehicles have been pretty much based on Chevy. Like the Camaro and Firebird over the years. In 2009 Chevy started making the Camaro again. Many pontiac owners were hoping Pontiac would bring back the Trans-am, but it didn't happen. However there are many after market companies buying in a Camaro, and transforming it into what the Trans-Am could have looked like. Article from the Hot Rod Magazine.

    October 31st, 2010 was the expiration date for the agreement between General Motors and its dealerships. Pontiac is officially closed its door for good as of yesterday after 84 years in business.

    Although the agreement expired, GM dealers will carry on to service the cars and honor its warranties for all the Pontiac cars, but any new Pontiac cars that remain on dealer lots will be considered used cars by GM. So if you were to purchase a brand new Pontiac right now, you will not get the full warranty.
    One manís nightmare is another manís dream. If you just need a car to drive and donít care much about a dead car brand, now it is a good time to buy those remaining new Pontiac cars.
    New forum-1969_gto_judge.jpgNew forum-1964-pontiac-gto-history.jpgNew forum-pontiac_firebird_400.jpg
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Will's Avatar
      Will -
      Thanks for posting that Dan..very interesting. I don't think many people realise that John De Lorean (yep, the same bloke who produced the car featured in the Back To The Future movies!) worked for GM's Pontiac division.

      Among other creations (inlcuding the Pontiac GTO), in 1967, forced to work with the Camaro body shell and being told he was only allowed to make changes to the front and read of the car... he created the Pontiac Firebird!
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