The Story of Pontiac

When I came to know Pontiac as a kid it was a good time to know Pontiacs. This was a make that took risks. It had its ups and downs, its deaths and rebirths. Three brilliant management teams in succession had guided it from the brink of extinction in 1956, to its pinnacle which I was witnessing as a pre-teen in the early 70s. Pontiacs took up more than their fair share of bedroom wall real estate, before one day giving way to Cheryl Tieges and Farrah Faucet-Majors. The objectives of both art themes was the same. Only the preoccupations of the viewer had changed. Pontiac’s looked hot! Almost a decade after its sad demise, of all of General Motor's four lost makes, the story of Pontiac is the most fun to contemplate. The upstart Saturn was a tragedy pure and simple. It was a great and heroic quest that was done in by corporate jealousy, ego, and atrophy. Grand ol' Oldsmobile's fate flowed like the opus of a life lived well. It had early glory, a long steady rise, and then a much shorter but just as steady decline. Oldsmobile’s very name all but ensured that one day its time would come. The audacious Hummer and the quirky Saab were no more than corporate larks. "Here's a trend, " said some suit in Detroit, "Let's follow it." Things couldn't have ended well for Saab under GM's ownership; they shouldn't have for Hummer. At Pontiac, you never quite knew how things would turn out. Pontiacs were exciting. The occasional few that weren’t? Well, at least they were interesting. With Pontiac, it was all about the cars. So why don't we let the cars tell the story. 

 

In the Beginning...

   
  
   
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     THE PONTIAC BUGGY COMPANY  OF PONTIAC, MICHIGAN WAS FOUNDED BY EDWARD MURPHY IN 1892. LIKE WITH STUDEBAKER AND GM'S FOUNDER, BILLY DURANT, MURPHY’S EARLIEST PONTIACS WERE HORSE POWERED    (www.EN.Numista.com)

THE PONTIAC BUGGY COMPANY OF PONTIAC, MICHIGAN WAS FOUNDED BY EDWARD MURPHY IN 1892. LIKE WITH STUDEBAKER AND GM'S FOUNDER, BILLY DURANT, MURPHY’S EARLIEST PONTIACS WERE HORSE POWERED   (www.EN.Numista.com)

The First Pontiac Car Wasn't Called a Pontiac

  The Oakland Automobile  - when in 1907 Edward Murphy made the switch from buggies to cars, The name pontiac had already been claimed by a short-lived car-maker across town. the name of the county would be the next best thing. Oakland Motor Cars would soon become part of General Motors. ( www.Americanautomobiles.com ) 

The Oakland Automobile - when in 1907 Edward Murphy made the switch from buggies to cars, The name pontiac had already been claimed by a short-lived car-maker across town. the name of the county would be the next best thing. Oakland Motor Cars would soon become part of General Motors. (www.Americanautomobiles.com

Even then...the Allure of a V-8

 Chasing Cadillac -  The 1916 Oakland  was powered by America's second practical application of the V8 engine ( www.Americanautomobiles.com ) 

Chasing Cadillac - The 1916 Oakland was powered by America's second practical application of the V8 engine (www.Americanautomobiles.com

The First Pontiac

 THE original NAME WAS RESTOERED WHEN OAKLAND GOT A STYLISH COMPANION BRAND. THE  1926 PONTIAC 6-27   was a LOW PRICED 6-CYLINDER car billed AS  "THE CHIEF OF THE SIXES."  ONE OF THE FIRST ever production CARS TO BE STYLIZED, this pontiac SHOWN BRIGHT next to its reserved older sibling.   ( www.uniquecarsandparts.com )

THE original NAME WAS RESTOERED WHEN OAKLAND GOT A STYLISH COMPANION BRAND. THE 1926 PONTIAC 6-27  was a LOW PRICED 6-CYLINDER car billed AS "THE CHIEF OF THE SIXES." ONE OF THE FIRST ever production CARS TO BE STYLIZED, this pontiac SHOWN BRIGHT next to its reserved older sibling.  (www.uniquecarsandparts.com)

The Last Oakland

  1931 Oakland V8  -   
  
   
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  1 931 OAKLAND V8  - THE OAKLAND BRAND waS LAID TO REST AFTER 1931, VICTIM OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION. ITS SOUL LIVED ON FOR ONE ADDITIONAL YEAR IN THE FORM OF A V8 ENGINED PONTIAC ...  (www.justamericancars.com)

1931 Oakland V8 - 1931 OAKLAND V8 - THE OAKLAND BRAND waS LAID TO REST AFTER 1931, VICTIM OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION. ITS SOUL LIVED ON FOR ONE ADDITIONAL YEAR IN THE FORM OF A V8 ENGINED PONTIAC...  (www.justamericancars.com)

 ...THAT CAR WAS THE  1932 PONTIAC MODEL 302 V8  - STUFFING A BIG CAR'S ENGINE IN A LIGHTER MODEL? HEY, when they did THAT 30 YEARS LATER WITH THE GTO, WASN'T IT CALLED A MUSCLE CAR?     ( www.Barritt-Jackson.com )

...THAT CAR WAS THE 1932 PONTIAC MODEL 302 V8 - STUFFING A BIG CAR'S ENGINE IN A LIGHTER MODEL? HEY, when they did THAT 30 YEARS LATER WITH THE GTO, WASN'T IT CALLED A MUSCLE CAR?    (www.Barritt-Jackson.com)

The Chief of Style

  1933 Pontiac straight Eight Coupe  - With Good value and great looks, Pontiac rides out the darkest days of the depression. (www.DenzosGarage.com)

1933 Pontiac straight Eight Coupe - With Good value and great looks, Pontiac rides out the darkest days of the depression. (www.DenzosGarage.com)

The Silver Streak 

  1935 Pontiac Standard six  - It was A simple idea by designer Frank Hershey to unify A new rounded grill with the rest of the car. the silver streak became a Pontiac trade-mark that would last 22 years...UNFORTUNATELY That was about a decade PAST ITS SELL-BY DATE. ( www.carstylecritic.com )

1935 Pontiac Standard six - It was A simple idea by designer Frank Hershey to unify A new rounded grill with the rest of the car. the silver streak became a Pontiac trade-mark that would last 22 years...UNFORTUNATELY That was about a decade PAST ITS SELL-BY DATE. (www.carstylecritic.com)

Pontiac Spreads its Wings

  1941 Pontiac Torpedo 8 : Adding the larger C-Body to the range put Pontiac in direct competition with Oldsmobile and Buick. Openly Challenging your older brothers can be nazarous to your health  ( www.motor1.com)

1941 Pontiac Torpedo 8: Adding the larger C-Body to the range put Pontiac in direct competition with Oldsmobile and Buick. Openly Challenging your older brothers can be nazarous to your health  (www.motor1.com)

The Old Man's Car

   
  
   
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  BY 1956, PONTIAC'S TIRED SILVER STREAK THEME HAD BECOME A PAIR OF CHROME SUSPENDERS. THese CERTAINLY contributed THE OLD MAN'S CAR IMAGE PONTIAC was ACQUIRing. NOT A GOOD ONE TO HAVE AS GM CONSIDERS REDUCING ITS BRAND COUNT . ( www.classics.autotrader.com )

BY 1956, PONTIAC'S TIRED SILVER STREAK THEME HAD BECOME A PAIR OF CHROME SUSPENDERS. THese CERTAINLY contributed THE OLD MAN'S CAR IMAGE PONTIAC was ACQUIRing. NOT A GOOD ONE TO HAVE AS GM CONSIDERS REDUCING ITS BRAND COUNT. (www.classics.autotrader.com)

 They weren't all dull. The  1956 Pontiac Safari  was a very nice variation on Chevy's marvelous Nomad ( www.journal.classiccars.com )

They weren't all dull. The 1956 Pontiac Safari was a very nice variation on Chevy's marvelous Nomad (www.journal.classiccars.com)

 ...And Lucy and Ricky ricardo certainly liked theirs in early television's greatest road trip

...And Lucy and Ricky ricardo certainly liked theirs in early television's greatest road trip

No More Silver Streak...and No More Old Man's Car

 

 new General Manager Bunkie Knudsen made a statement with the  1957 Pontiac Bonneville . removing those tired silver streaks from the hood CAUSED A STIR. IT WAIVED GOODBYE to the Pontiac of old, as a Fuel Injected V8 ushered in a new era as GM's performance division.  ( www.Hemmings.com )

new General Manager Bunkie Knudsen made a statement with the 1957 Pontiac Bonneville. removing those tired silver streaks from the hood CAUSED A STIR. IT WAIVED GOODBYE to the Pontiac of old, as a Fuel Injected V8 ushered in a new era as GM's performance division.  (www.Hemmings.com)

The Wide Track

  The 1959 Pontiac:  by pushing the wheels out 4 inches, pontiac's destiny was set in steel. The wide-track look was born and the make is saved...if only for another half-century. ( www.amazon.com/KScottTeetersAutomotiveArt )

The 1959 Pontiac: by pushing the wheels out 4 inches, pontiac's destiny was set in steel. The wide-track look was born and the make is saved...if only for another half-century. (www.amazon.com/KScottTeetersAutomotiveArt)

 as much as wide tracks or split grills, Art Fitspatrick's ADVERTISING artwork helped to mold Pontiac's image as a style leader  ( www.Fitz-Art.com )

as much as wide tracks or split grills, Art Fitspatrick's ADVERTISING artwork helped to mold Pontiac's image as a style leader  (www.Fitz-Art.com)

Tempest in a Teapot: the Compact Pontiac

 The  1961 Pontiac Tempest  was testiment to the engineering genious of John Z. DELorean. with a rear transaxle, 4-wheel independent suspension and 50/50 weight distribution, this TECHNICALLY ADVANCED COMPACT was probably the best haNDLING AMERICAN CAR ON THE market. (www.pontiacsonline.com)

The 1961 Pontiac Tempest was testiment to the engineering genious of John Z. DELorean. with a rear transaxle, 4-wheel independent suspension and 50/50 weight distribution, this TECHNICALLY ADVANCED COMPACT was probably the best haNDLING AMERICAN CAR ON THE market. (www.pontiacsonline.com)

The Prettiest Pontiac

 PONTIAC HAS BEEN KNOWN over its 100 YEAR lifespan FOR PRODUCING MORE THAN ITS FAIR SHARE OF STRIKINGLY BEAUTIFUL CARS. AND WHILE STYLING IS SUBJECTIVE, ITS HARD TO ARGUE THE  1961 Pontiac Ventura "bubbletop"  WASN'T THE LOVELIEST of them all ( WWW.pontiacserver.COM )

PONTIAC HAS BEEN KNOWN over its 100 YEAR lifespan FOR PRODUCING MORE THAN ITS FAIR SHARE OF STRIKINGLY BEAUTIFUL CARS. AND WHILE STYLING IS SUBJECTIVE, ITS HARD TO ARGUE THE 1961 Pontiac Ventura "bubbletop" WASN'T THE LOVELIEST of them all (WWW.pontiacserver.COM)

Personal Luxury

 WITH THE  1963 GRAND PRIX , Pontiac OFFERED AN ELEGANT RESPONSE TO THE FORD THUNDERBIRD. ITS 8-BOLT ALLoY WHEELS, FINNED ALUMINUM BRAKES, BUCKET SEATS, FULL INSTRUMENTATION, along with A REFRESHING LACK OF BODY ORNAMENTATION, CAUSED ONE COMMENTATOR TO DEScRIBE the GP's LOOKS as  "AN ATHLETE IN A TUXEDO." ( www.pontiacserver.com

WITH THE 1963 GRAND PRIX, Pontiac OFFERED AN ELEGANT RESPONSE TO THE FORD THUNDERBIRD. ITS 8-BOLT ALLoY WHEELS, FINNED ALUMINUM BRAKES, BUCKET SEATS, FULL INSTRUMENTATION, along with A REFRESHING LACK OF BODY ORNAMENTATION, CAUSED ONE COMMENTATOR TO DEScRIBE the GP's LOOKS as  "AN ATHLETE IN A TUXEDO." (www.pontiacserver.com

 Starting in 1965 Grand Prixs got bulkier...and Pointier, TOO. But man, did they have presence                 ( www.Fitz-art.com )

Starting in 1965 Grand Prixs got bulkier...and Pointier, TOO. But man, did they have presence                 (www.Fitz-art.com)

 DeLorean hit the reset button in '69 and the GP moved to the mid-sized platform. A-body Ponchos like this  1969 Grand Prix SJ  opened up a new category that produced well over 10 million cars. (source unknown)

DeLorean hit the reset button in '69 and the GP moved to the mid-sized platform. A-body Ponchos like this 1969 Grand Prix SJ opened up a new category that produced well over 10 million cars. (source unknown)

The Legend is Born

 It was the most defiant act in GM's history. Pontiac General Manager Pete Estes and Chief engineer DELOrean did an end around on a corporate edict against racing and horsepower. By calling it a trim package, They snuck the hairy-chested 348hp  1964 Pontiac Tempest GTO  past the GREY suits on the 14th Floor, and ushured in the age of the musclecar. (www.pinterst.com)

It was the most defiant act in GM's history. Pontiac General Manager Pete Estes and Chief engineer DELOrean did an end around on a corporate edict against racing and horsepower. By calling it a trim package, They snuck the hairy-chested 348hp 1964 Pontiac Tempest GTO past the GREY suits on the 14th Floor, and ushured in the age of the musclecar. (www.pinterst.com)

 While the '64 was the first, the '66 was pure perfection ( www.OldcaronLine.com )

While the '64 was the first, the '66 was pure perfection (www.OldcaronLine.com)

Muscle Still Came in Size Large

 the GTO got all the press. but the full sized  1965 Pontiac 2+2,  when equiped with 421 cid Tri-power, was actually faster than the gto. As for its looks: You might call it "A recently retired athlete in a Tux"     (pontiac ad circa 1965)

the GTO got all the press. but the full sized 1965 Pontiac 2+2, when equiped with 421 cid Tri-power, was actually faster than the gto. As for its looks: You might call it "A recently retired athlete in a Tux"     (pontiac ad circa 1965)

Poncho's Pony

  1967 Pontiac Firebird : Taking a Camaro and giving it pontiac style, and a Pontiac heart ( www.Firebirdgallery.com )

1967 Pontiac Firebird: Taking a Camaro and giving it pontiac style, and a Pontiac heart (www.Firebirdgallery.com)

  1967 Pontiac Firebird Sprint 6 -  with a smooth-reving 215 hp OHC straight Six, this was DeLorean's best attempt at making a European sport sedan. Alas, he seemed to be the only american who wanted a Euro sports sedan in the 60s. by 1969, The OHC 6 was gone.  just imagine one of those OHC 6s in that black 1982 a few scrolls down  ( www.Firebirdgallery.com )

1967 Pontiac Firebird Sprint 6 - with a smooth-reving 215 hp OHC straight Six, this was DeLorean's best attempt at making a European sport sedan. Alas, he seemed to be the only american who wanted a Euro sports sedan in the 60s. by 1969, The OHC 6 was gone. just imagine one of those OHC 6s in that black 1982 a few scrolls down (www.Firebirdgallery.com)

 Forget the AAR Cuda; with only 8 ever made, the  1969 Pontiac Friebird Trans Am Convertible  is the most rareified OF musclecarS. ( WWW.barrett-jackson.com )

Forget the AAR Cuda; with only 8 ever made, the 1969 Pontiac Friebird Trans Am Convertible is the most rareified OF musclecarS. (WWW.barrett-jackson.com)

The Endura Era

 Replacing chrome bumpers with wrap around rubberized Eudura gave all pontiacs sporty offerings   a cleaner more agressive look. The  1968 Pontiac GTO  looked great in the flesh, but art fitzpatrick's drawings made them IRRESISTIBLE to ANY PRE-TEEN DECORATING HIS BEADROOM WALL      ( www.fitz-art.com )

Replacing chrome bumpers with wrap around rubberized Eudura gave all pontiacs sporty offerings a cleaner more agressive look. The 1968 Pontiac GTO looked great in the flesh, but art fitzpatrick's drawings made them IRRESISTIBLE to ANY PRE-TEEN DECORATING HIS BEADROOM WALL      (www.fitz-art.com)

 two years later the  1970 Pontiac GTo  looked delightfully sinister, even though it wasnt as sexy as the '68. ( www.fitz-art.com )

two years later the 1970 Pontiac GTo looked delightfully sinister, even though it wasnt as sexy as the '68. (www.fitz-art.com)

 The  1970 1/2 Pontiac Formula Firebird  was like an Italian Exotic - a supercar for the everyman. ( www.firebirdgallery.com )

The 1970 1/2 Pontiac Formula Firebird was like an Italian Exotic - a supercar for the everyman. (www.firebirdgallery.com)

Ponchos on Film

 Speaking of the everyman, James Garner played one on TVs  The Rockford Files . Garner would have been cool no matter what he drove, but a  1977 Firebird Formula  in esprit trim SURE DIDN'T HURT (WWW.YouTube.com)

Speaking of the everyman, James Garner played one on TVs The Rockford Files. Garner would have been cool no matter what he drove, but a 1977 Firebird Formula in esprit trim SURE DIDN'T HURT (WWW.YouTube.com)

 And there was this: The plot was silly, the acting cliched...But this hal Needham stunt movie sure was fun.  It probably kept GM's F-Body alive single handedly until we could be done with the age of Malaise.

And there was this: The plot was silly, the acting cliched...But this hal Needham stunt movie sure was fun.  It probably kept GM's F-Body alive single handedly until we could be done with the age of Malaise.

 a mid-life crisis erupts in Sam Mendes'  American Beauty  (1999) wHere A big red Trans am is an automotive middle finger to the world.

a mid-life crisis erupts in Sam Mendes' American Beauty (1999) wHere A big red Trans am is an automotive middle finger to the world.

 One more visit to hollywood: Tough cop Roy Sheider's  1973 Pontiac Ventura II  tore up the steets of New york   in Philip d'antoni's  The Seven-ups.  

One more visit to hollywood: Tough cop Roy Sheider's 1973 Pontiac Ventura II tore up the steets of New york in Philip d'antoni's The Seven-ups. 

 the bad guys  drove a  1973 Pontiac Grandville     In arguably one of the top-5 movie car chases of all time.

the bad guys  drove a 1973 Pontiac Grandville  In arguably one of the top-5 movie car chases of all time.

The Age of Malaise

 The signiture Poncho beak got a little out of hand on the  1971 Pontiac Catalina.     I wonder if that V-shaped gash in my childhood pal Kenny Klien's garage is still there from when his BIG sister forgot where the brake was . ( www.Productioncars.com )

The signiture Poncho beak got a little out of hand on the 1971 Pontiac Catalina. I wonder if that V-shaped gash in my childhood pal Kenny Klien's garage is still there from when his BIG sister forgot where the brake was. (www.Productioncars.com)

 The name of the  1973 Pontiac Grand Am  says it all: a cross between a luxury grand prix and a sporty Trans am. It was probably the most beautifully espressive American car of a decade not known for beauty and expression. (Pontiac advert Circa 1974)

The name of the 1973 Pontiac Grand Am says it all: a cross between a luxury grand prix and a sporty Trans am. It was probably the most beautifully espressive American car of a decade not known for beauty and expression. (Pontiac advert Circa 1974)

 Replacing The gorgeous but slow-selling Grand am with the  1977 Pontiac Can Am -  which was hot looking, but even slower selling - seems a little like swapping Catherine Zeta-Jones in a silky evening gown for Pamala sue Anderson in a tank top and cut-offs. Differnt strokes for different folks. (www. dannywhitfield .com)

Replacing The gorgeous but slow-selling Grand am with the 1977 Pontiac Can Am - which was hot looking, but even slower selling - seems a little like swapping Catherine Zeta-Jones in a silky evening gown for Pamala sue Anderson in a tank top and cut-offs. Differnt strokes for different folks. (www.dannywhitfield.com)

 a downsized  grand am was back in 1978 . It was one of the nicest cars of the 70s that nobody wanted. Seemingly America wasn't ready for a homegrown BMW. (www.youtube.com)

a downsized grand am was back in 1978. It was one of the nicest cars of the 70s that nobody wanted. Seemingly America wasn't ready for a homegrown BMW. (www.youtube.com)

Split Grilled and Grievous

 Taken out of context, the Vega-based  1975 Pontiac Astra  made a mockery of Pontiac's performance image. But this was the Seventies. Looks and performance had long been sacrificed on the alter of safety and fuel economy. Compared to its peers, the Astra wasn't terrible looking, and LATER, SWAPPING IN THE ancient but reliable Iron Duke mill spared owners the head gasket melting, oil spewing nightmare of its sibling's infamous aluminum block. We can be thankfull for small favors.

Taken out of context, the Vega-based 1975 Pontiac Astra made a mockery of Pontiac's performance image. But this was the Seventies. Looks and performance had long been sacrificed on the alter of safety and fuel economy. Compared to its peers, the Astra wasn't terrible looking, and LATER, SWAPPING IN THE ancient but reliable Iron Duke mill spared owners the head gasket melting, oil spewing nightmare of its sibling's infamous aluminum block. We can be thankfull for small favors.

  1978 Pontiac T1000 : Absolutely nothing to be thankful for.

1978 Pontiac T1000: Absolutely nothing to be thankful for.

Much Better...but Not Good Enough

 the  1982 Pontiac J2000  was a good looking, well designed compact that you wanted to like but didn't. there were too many better choices out there. Japanese COMPETITORS like Honda were giving customers what they wanted - efficient, comfortable, well-made cars that respond EFFORTLESSLY to thier owners' needs. General Motors on the other hand was more concerned with meeting corporate goals on Manufacturing costs and parts sharing. The customer was expected to adapt to GM's needs, not the other way around. An Accord was built for its owners. A J-car was built for GM.  HOW DOES A CAR COMPANY NOT GO BANKRUPT WITH THINKING LIKE THAT? 

the 1982 Pontiac J2000 was a good looking, well designed compact that you wanted to like but didn't. there were too many better choices out there. Japanese COMPETITORS like Honda were giving customers what they wanted - efficient, comfortable, well-made cars that respond EFFORTLESSLY to thier owners' needs. General Motors on the other hand was more concerned with meeting corporate goals on Manufacturing costs and parts sharing. The customer was expected to adapt to GM's needs, not the other way around. An Accord was built for its owners. A J-car was built for GM. HOW DOES A CAR COMPANY NOT GO BANKRUPT WITH THINKING LIKE THAT? 

Eighties Rebirth

 After 11 years riding on the same platform with very little change, save for those mandated by federal BUREAUCRATS, the  1982 Pontiac Firebird  usured in a new look for a new decade. it may have been the most siblime rendition of the 70s/80s wedge look. ( www.wheelsage.com )

After 11 years riding on the same platform with very little change, save for those mandated by federal BUREAUCRATS, the 1982 Pontiac Firebird usured in a new look for a new decade. it may have been the most siblime rendition of the 70s/80s wedge look. (www.wheelsage.com)

 If cars could only talk. The firebird may have been a better actor than the actor

If cars could only talk. The firebird may have been a better actor than the actor

  1983 Pontiac 6000STE  - OK, Maybe IT WAS a homegrown Audi THAT america was ready for.  (source unknown)

1983 Pontiac 6000STE - OK, Maybe IT WAS a homegrown Audi THAT america was ready for.  (source unknown)

  1984 Pontiac Fiero  - ThE Fiero represented simultaniously all that was right and all that was wrong with General Motors.  It was a technically advanced and innovatively designed modern sports car. But the suits on the 14th Floor mandated it to be built and marketed as a 92HP economy RUNABOUT.  By the time the Fiero finally got the engine and suspension to fulfull its sporting promise, the bean-counters WENT AND killed it.  BANKRUPTcy waS to good for the bastards.      (Pontiac ad circa 1984)

1984 Pontiac Fiero - ThE Fiero represented simultaniously all that was right and all that was wrong with General Motors.  It was a technically advanced and innovatively designed modern sports car. But the suits on the 14th Floor mandated it to be built and marketed as a 92HP economy RUNABOUT.  By the time the Fiero finally got the engine and suspension to fulfull its sporting promise, the bean-counters WENT AND killed it.  BANKRUPTcy waS to good for the bastards.      (Pontiac ad circa 1984)

  1985 Pontiac Grand Am  - By its third ITERATION, the Grand Am finally achieves success on the sales charts. For anyone who appriciates good design, that's enough to make you weep. ( www.cargurus.com )

1985 Pontiac Grand Am - By its third ITERATION, the Grand Am finally achieves success on the sales charts. For anyone who appriciates good design, that's enough to make you weep. (www.cargurus.com)

  1988 Pontiac Bonneville SSE  -It was Considered by many to be the best AMerican sports sedan of the 1980s. Performance-wise, the SSE absolutely delivered the goods. But When it came to looks, well... "pontiac style" couldn't help this corporate cutout of a full-sized car  (www.youtube.com)

1988 Pontiac Bonneville SSE -It was Considered by many to be the best AMerican sports sedan of the 1980s. Performance-wise, the SSE absolutely delivered the goods. But When it came to looks, well... "pontiac style" couldn't help this corporate cutout of a full-sized car  (www.youtube.com)

Harbengers of the End Days

 If there was a single car that symbolized General Motors' utter disregard for what made Pontiac great, it was the  1988 Pontiac Lemans by Daewoo  .  They   Put   the name of the greatest race in motorsports on an 80HP piece of crap, then slapped on a cheezy split grill and called it a pontiac.  I'll say it again, bankruptcy waS too good for the bastards!!!   (Pontiac advert circa 1988)

If there was a single car that symbolized General Motors' utter disregard for what made Pontiac great, it was the 1988 Pontiac Lemans by Daewoo. They Put the name of the greatest race in motorsports on an 80HP piece of crap, then slapped on a cheezy split grill and called it a pontiac. I'll say it again, bankruptcy waS too good for the bastards!!!  (Pontiac advert circa 1988)

  1989 Pontiac Transport  - WHAT CAN YOU SAY, REALLY. It was "the pontiac of Minivans." (source unknown)

1989 Pontiac Transport - WHAT CAN YOU SAY, REALLY. It was "the pontiac of Minivans." (source unknown)

   
  
   
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    THE  1990 PONTIAC GRAND PRIX  WAS PART OF GENERAL MOTORS' $8 BIL REDESIGN OF ITS MIDSIZE CARS. FORD'S NEW FWD TAURUS WAS EATING GM'S LUNCH, so IT WAS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT THAT THEY GET THIS CAR RIGHT. THEY DID NOT GET IT RIGHT. YOU WANTED TO LIKE THE NEW GP. IT WAS TERRIFIC LOOKING INSIDE AND OUT. IT WAS QUICK AND THE ENGINE HAD A THROATY SNARL. IT WAS A CAR YOU'D LIKE TO SEE ON THE STREET, OR IN YOUR NEIGHBOR'S DRIVEWAY...BUT not in your OWN. GM MADE TOO MANY COMPROMISEs: LOUSY ERGONOMICS, CHEAPNESS OF THE CONTROLS, THOSE AWFUL DOOR-MOUNTED SEATBELTS. GM WAS STILL BUILDING CARS FOR ITSELF, NOT for ITS CUSTOMERS.

THE 1990 PONTIAC GRAND PRIX WAS PART OF GENERAL MOTORS' $8 BIL REDESIGN OF ITS MIDSIZE CARS. FORD'S NEW FWD TAURUS WAS EATING GM'S LUNCH, so IT WAS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT THAT THEY GET THIS CAR RIGHT. THEY DID NOT GET IT RIGHT. YOU WANTED TO LIKE THE NEW GP. IT WAS TERRIFIC LOOKING INSIDE AND OUT. IT WAS QUICK AND THE ENGINE HAD A THROATY SNARL. IT WAS A CAR YOU'D LIKE TO SEE ON THE STREET, OR IN YOUR NEIGHBOR'S DRIVEWAY...BUT not in your OWN. GM MADE TOO MANY COMPROMISEs: LOUSY ERGONOMICS, CHEAPNESS OF THE CONTROLS, THOSE AWFUL DOOR-MOUNTED SEATBELTS. GM WAS STILL BUILDING CARS FOR ITSELF, NOT for ITS CUSTOMERS.

Gone Racin' One More Time

   
  
   
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    WATCHING A NASCAR RACE TODAY, WE HAVE TO SQUINT to see THE DECAL GRILL ON THE FRONT in order TO know THE MAKE OF THOSE SAME-SHAPED RACERS. IT'S HARD TO REMEMBER THE POINT WHERE "STOCK CARS" STOPPED LOOKING EVEN REMOTELY STOCK; UNTIL YOU REMEMBER THE  1986 PONTIAC GRAND PRIX 2+2 "AEROBACK" , LIKELY THE LAST PRODUCTION CAR WHOSE SHAPE WAS INFLUENCED BY THOSE FAST OVAL RACE TRACKS.

WATCHING A NASCAR RACE TODAY, WE HAVE TO SQUINT to see THE DECAL GRILL ON THE FRONT in order TO know THE MAKE OF THOSE SAME-SHAPED RACERS. IT'S HARD TO REMEMBER THE POINT WHERE "STOCK CARS" STOPPED LOOKING EVEN REMOTELY STOCK; UNTIL YOU REMEMBER THE 1986 PONTIAC GRAND PRIX 2+2 "AEROBACK", LIKELY THE LAST PRODUCTION CAR WHOSE SHAPE WAS INFLUENCED BY THOSE FAST OVAL RACE TRACKS.

Last Gasps

 The  2000 Pontiac GTO  was Thunder from Down Under, a heroic effort to recessitate a once proud brand that had been left for dead on the side of the road.  New GM product chief Bob Lutz - the ultimate Detroit car guy - went to AUSTRALIA to bring stateside the fantastic  Holden Morano GT . It seems the GM-ers from Ozzie hadn't forgotten what a musclecar looked or felt like.  ( www.fastestlaps.com )

The 2000 Pontiac GTO was Thunder from Down Under, a heroic effort to recessitate a once proud brand that had been left for dead on the side of the road.  New GM product chief Bob Lutz - the ultimate Detroit car guy - went to AUSTRALIA to bring stateside the fantastic Holden Morano GT. It seems the GM-ers from Ozzie hadn't forgotten what a musclecar looked or felt like.  (www.fastestlaps.com)

 "Maximum Bob" Lutz was on a mission to make GM relevent again. The  2006 Pontiac Solstice  was a sharp looking, RWD, 2-seat sports car that could be had for under $20,000. Too bad the market for cheap 2-seaters was too small to make a differenvce. Wwww.LAsplash,com)

"Maximum Bob" Lutz was on a mission to make GM relevent again. The 2006 Pontiac Solstice was a sharp looking, RWD, 2-seat sports car that could be had for under $20,000. Too bad the market for cheap 2-seaters was too small to make a differenvce. Wwww.LAsplash,com)

If 14-Year Olds Could Buy Cars, They'da Sold a Million of These

 It's hard to know what to say about the 4th generation Firebird. The Three previous birds from 1967, 1970 and 1982, each in their day looked brutally elegant and  primed for action. This  2002 Pontiac Formula Firebird  Packs big power, that's for sure. though it appears to be overwhelmed by the prodigious ladling on of Lard   (www.edmonds.com)

It's hard to know what to say about the 4th generation Firebird. The Three previous birds from 1967, 1970 and 1982, each in their day looked brutally elegant and  primed for action. This 2002 Pontiac Formula Firebird Packs big power, that's for sure. though it appears to be overwhelmed by the prodigious ladling on of Lard   (www.edmonds.com)

The End Days

  2001 Pontiac Aztek  - Mind the the gap between concept and execution: It's a wide one. The aztek was prescient in its anticipation of the crossover craze. But, after GM's bureaucrats had worked it over with their cudgels of consumer research and brass knuckles of corporate mandates, what could have been the decade's greatest automotive success, became it cruelest joke. (Pontiac ad circa 2001)

2001 Pontiac Aztek - Mind the the gap between concept and execution: It's a wide one. The aztek was prescient in its anticipation of the crossover craze. But, after GM's bureaucrats had worked it over with their cudgels of consumer research and brass knuckles of corporate mandates, what could have been the decade's greatest automotive success, became it cruelest joke. (Pontiac ad circa 2001)

 Breaking Bad - When failures are colossal enough, the passage of time can turn them into cult figures

Breaking Bad - When failures are colossal enough, the passage of time can turn them into cult figures

  2006 Pontiac G3  - Someone in the C-suite thought this was a good idea. If the car gods value justice, then that someone is  still  looking for work (www.GMCarParts.com)

2006 Pontiac G3 - Someone in the C-suite thought this was a good idea. If the car gods value justice, then that someone is still looking for work (www.GMCarParts.com)

A Parting Gift

  2008 Pontiac G8 GT  - Maximum Bob made one more trans-pacific shopping trip. Did he already know the jig was up?  Did he want to give Poncho fans one last fond memory? IF SO, Nice to know that not everyone in the c-suit was a bastard.  ( www.Motortrend.com )

2008 Pontiac G8 GT - Maximum Bob made one more trans-pacific shopping trip. Did he already know the jig was up?  Did he want to give Poncho fans one last fond memory? IF SO, Nice to know that not everyone in the c-suit was a bastard.  (www.Motortrend.com)

copyright@2018  By Mal Pearson

 

Sources and Resources

They Built Excitement, by Thomas E. Bonsall. Stoney Run Press, 1991

www.PontiacOnLine.com   Wide array of good Pontiac Pictures

www.PontiacServer.com   Great souce for all things Pontiac

www.PontiacHunters.com   Fun place for Poncho-philes to hang out

www.firebirdgallery.com   Everything Firebird...everything

www.fitz-art.com   The brand defining artwork of Art Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman