Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pontiac You Are Missed!

I was 10 years old when I saw my first 1967 Pontiac GTO at the US Embassy in Bonn, Germany, where I fell head over heels in love with the Pontiac Motor Division and to a lesser degree General Motors.

I watched in horror through the 80’s and 90’s as GM mismanaged my favorite brand  (Remember Ron Zarrella), yes by that time there was no longer a Pontiac Motor Division just the brand, Pontiac.

I had hope for Pontiac again in 2001 when Bob Lutz returned to GM; he was determined to see Pontiac become what it once had been, and I cheered his return, for me it was like Liberation Day in Paris. Bob Lutz brought interesting cars like the GTO, Solstice, and G8 into the Pontiac lineup. Bob Lutz did his best to brighten Pontiac’s future.

But then came April 27, 2009, when GM officially announced that Pontiac would be dropped and all its remaining models would be phased out by the end of 2010. I could not believe what I was hearing, and I felt betrayed by GM and still do to this very day when it comes to Pontiac.

In my mind, it should have been Buick that was dropped in North America, not Pontiac. Buick could have soldiered on in China to appease the Chinese buyers, but in North America, it should have been Pontiac that survived General Motors’ axe.

Have you noticed that when I was at GM, I rarely mentioned Buick in any way, shape, or form? To me the very name Buick carries the (Old Person’s) stigma and always will, I’d never be seen in one. I have to be honest with myself here, if GM didn’t have the 5th Generation Camaro in its lineup, I most likely would have bought BMW. Why BMW? Well from my perspective BMWs share a lot of design traits with Pontiac, the twin kidney grille for instance and a sporty image. Plus as a boy growing up in Germany, I admired BMW as much as I did Pontiac.

So was Pontiac’s demise the only reason I left GM for BMW? God no, but it was a big part of it, I drank the GM Kool-Aid when it came to Pontiac and now like Pontiac itself the Kool-Aid was gone, and my eyes were finally wide open to the possibilities that BMW offered me.
The automotive world is a little less bright without Pontiac in it, and that saddens me, but I will do my best to make sure that never ever happens to BMW.


  1. I find it funny that GM just introduced (what I assume to be) the Alpha concept for what most likely would've been the Pontiac G6 replacement AND a concept which was initially published all over the internet as a Pontiac as part of a new "Passion Portfolio" that is intended to lure in younger, performance oriented buyers.

    This young, performance oriented lad (who at one time was a GM ONLY buyer) is so disinterested in GM that I barely keep up with their news anymore.

    The way they squandered the whole company pissed me off and the way they treated Pontiac just threw salt in the wounds.

    It's sad really, I'm still loyal enough to actually buy from the company (despite being kicked and spit on) but NOTHING they have interests me at all. Chevrolet can get lost with their anemic 'stripes and decals' packages, GMC has huge wasted potential. And I know GM wants to think it can cover the 'sporty' niche and make a few more bucks with Buick, it'll be a cold day before I (or any of Buick's now intended audience, for that matter) will be caught dead in a re-badged and de-contented Opel.

    And it's not that I'm anti-Buick. I just hate everything about Opel designs (especially when they're de-contented) and I'm so incredibly tired of the fanboys thinking Buick new line, which is selling a whole 15 cars now instead of 10, is the end all-be all of new GM success.

    Ideally, I would've built a small Pontiac line off of Gamma, Alpha and maybe even Y-body. The sporty Gamma is a given (Chevrolet can have their RS and Z-Spec bullshit) an Alpha sedan (shall I say, something within the mindset of the 130R) would perfectly complement the F6 Alpha Camaro coupe and convertible. Buick doesn't need an Alpha for America, it can stick with AWD 'performance' Acura battlers and re-badge and re-trim the Pontiac sedan for China. Next would be a coupe and sedan on Alpha+ (Chevrolet can build their mostly fleet Caprice-or-whatever on Zeta and/or its replacement. And last but not least I'd toy with the option of building a Solstice or Firebird on Y-body. Keep taking the CORE of the Corvette line upmarket (especially in the absence of a serious Cadillac coupe) and offer a track-ready no frills Pontiac 'option' (with a technical V6 or conservative V8) that really sets the tone for the whole division.

  2. Only fifteen people on the internet cared about Pontiac, and none of them could afford a vehicle made after 1983. The people that actually bought the brand's vehicles wanted the best bargain possible.

    Pontiac wasn't special, and hadn't been for a half century.

  3. "The automotive world is a little less bright without Pontiac in it, and that saddens me, but I will do my best to make sure that never ever happens to BMW."

    So then why is BMW developing FWD cars, something they used to swear they would never do? Or throwing the M badge on SUVs while not developing an M1 successor. Or how about that "The Ultimate Driving Machine" has gotten progressively softer and more focused on tech than driving.

    As for Pontiac, the G8 was the only car to come out of that brand in decades that was a finished product and reflected everything the brand could, and should have been. Everything else was either seriously flawed or utter crap. I'll miss Saab more than Pontiac.