TTAC - Pontiac R.I.P.

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Apr 27, 2009.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Pontiac R.I.P.

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    By Paul Niedermeyer
    April 27, 2009

    Excitement is an ephemeral phenomenon. As was Pontiac. It had its glorious day in the sunshine of the exciting sixties. Pontiac was like the polite, quiet middle child who ran away to California in the early sixties, became a huge star, crashed in 1970, and played the county fair nostalgia circuit ever since. In between repeated bouts in rehab. And now we’re here to pay our last respects.

    Not only was Pontiac the “quiet” child in the GM household, it was also the unplanned “accidental” child. Created in 1926 as a minor lower priced “companion” to Oakland, one of GM’s original five car companies, Pontiac survived its mother’s death in the Depression. To save costs, GM’s President Alfred Sloan had Pontiac share a lengthened Chevrolet body and chassis, as well as other major components. It became a tarted-up Chevy, and with Pontiac’s first straight-eight engine in 1933, a more powerful one. Thus badge-engineering was born.

    In Sloan’s “a car for every pocketbook” dictum, Pontiac became the (realistic) aspiration for the Chevy driver of the thirties. Pontiac’s prices slotted in exactly between the most expensive Chevy range and the cheapest Oldsmobile.

    But Sloan’s religiously hierarchical structure collapsed, beginning in the Depression. And by the fifties, the divisions were all over each other. It was like a new twist to a professional wrestling tag team match: The GM Mid-Price Thee Stooges. And although the GM team made sure to make it look like they were also fighting with each other, it didn’t really matter, as long as the real competition was flattened. The competition’s contestants like Edsel and DeSoto were tossed out of the ring, permanently. Mercury, Dodge and Chrysler were left bloody. And it wasn’t ketchup either.

    But Pontiac was the laggard of the GM team until 1959. That’s when it reinvented itself, started working out in earnest, grew a “wide track”, and let its (now dyed blonde) hair grow long. And overnight, it became the Star(Chief).

    Instantly, Pontiac jumped to fourth place in US sales. The dreamy 1960 “Wide Track Pontiac” ads as rendered by Fitzpatrick and Kaufman are icons of the time when Americans were ready to fully embrace image, youthfulness, style, and most of all, excitement. Pontiac’s decade had arrived.

    Unarguably the best styled cars of the sixties, Pontiac jumped to third place in 1962 and held that spot though the decade. It was a crushing blow to Chrysler’s Plymouth division, which had claimed that perch since the late twenties. And in doing so, Pontiac sucked Chevy right into the GM tag team spectacle. And before long, even Caddy would be in the ring too, fighting for the working-man’s attention (and suspension of disbelief).

    But all during the sixties, Pontiac had the moves to keep the eyes on it. The first was the 1963 Grand Prix coupe. It had the exclusiveness and formal elegance of the Buick Riviera coupe, at about three-fourths the price.

    But Pontiac really wowed the crowds with its 1964 GTO. Now here was something that hadn’t been seen before. Drop-kick the big 389 into the light, mid-size Tempest, along with suspension, tire, appearance and interior upgrades, and the affordable American enthusiast car reached its zenith. In this pre-BMW era of fossilized British roadsters, the GTO overwhelmingly had the best overall performance/dollar equation. Pontiac was BMW before BMW was cool (or available).

    But like for so many stars of the sixties, the seventies were not kind to Pontiac. Its flabby beltline was clearly showing. What remaining life forces it could muster were all concentrated on one remaining move, the Trans Am. And even that became a bit of a joke after one too many times. Pontiac’s star had passed, and it tumbled out of the coveted number three spot.

    Now its moves were reduced to pathetic little imitations of Chevrolet: Phoenix, Astre, Sunbird, J-2000, T-1000, etc. Having lost its mojo, Pontiac also began endless self-conscious attempts to capture the BMW cachet, like with the original 1973 Grand Am.

    Oddly enough, Pontiac’s last-ditch BMW-caricatures enjoyed a brief revival of interest during the mid-eighties. But the crowd that was paying (not very much) was not exactly a highly coveted demographic. As in this uncharitable description of the stereotypical driver of a (red) Grand Am: “a nail manicurist who lives in a trailer with an unemployed (former wrestler?) boyfriend”. Pontiac had become the Wal-Mart BMW. Be careful what you wish for.

    Despite a few desperate last-ditch twitches induced by steroids smuggled in from Australia, Pontiac was tossed out of the ring for good. And the once-invincible GM tag team is desperately looking for signs of life among its few bloodied remaining members.
     
  2. just_another_on

    just_another_on New Member

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    PEACE.

    You will not be missed.

    Aside from the G8.
     
  3. twistid

    twistid Banged By Super Models Moderator

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    so my grand prix will be a collectors item. :joshers:
     
  4. PanzerAce

    PanzerAce Active Member

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    I'll only miss the G8 :wtc:
     
  5. MrEous

    MrEous OT Supporter

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    Damnit...just when I wanted to go for a G8 when my current lease is up.
     
  6. BlazinBlazer Guy

    BlazinBlazer Guy Witness to The De-Evolution of Mankind.

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    Nuckin' Futs....
     
  7. BlazinBlazer Guy

    BlazinBlazer Guy Witness to The De-Evolution of Mankind.

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    Might want to check on the possibility of early turn-in; it'll probably be your only chance at this point.
     
  8. CJPA

    CJPA New Member

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    Other than the G8, I can't think of a car in their current lineup that I'd be interested in putting in my garage.
     
  9. vudoodoodoo

    vudoodoodoo New Member

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  10. SimpleMan

    SimpleMan Yeti is watching you post

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    GOOD RIDDANCE.
     
  11. Boomdart

    Boomdart New Member

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    Goodbye pontiac. You made a neat fiero that could burst into flames in the 80's and I salute you for it.

    Otherwise, couldn't care less... I always felt the firebird was too much of a direct ripoff of the camaro anyway. and I never paid any attention to any of the other cars you've made.

    The worst part is, less cars makers in the market, less competition... are car prices going to go up?
     
  12. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    It's a shame. I always liked Pontiac variants much better than their Chevy donors. That being said, GM really does need to trim down -- frankly, I think if they have to torch the entire rest of the company just to keep the Corvette and push the Volt to market, it will be for the best.
     
  13. twistid

    twistid Banged By Super Models Moderator

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    the volt won't be their savior... it cost too much, and gas is too low priced.

    chrysler was reborn with the k car and the minivan... they made enough money from them, they were able to bring the viper to life... GM needs to trim down to 1 vehicle per sku, then find a bread and butter car to sell...so they can keep making the cool cars.
     
  14. z284pwr

    z284pwr OT Supporter

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    Will be interesting to see what happens with the price of the G8 GXPs in the coming years. :noes:

    Shame to see Pontiac go, but it was known to be coming. I think Pontiac lost their credibility awhile ago. G8 badged as an Impala probably would have sold a lot better :hs:
     
  15. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    There's one flaw in your reasoning: the Volt isn't targeted at rational people who like to save money; it's targeted at idealistic people who would rather spend money on an expensive car that doesn't pollute than spend money on cheap gas that does pollute. Maybe in 5-10 years it'll be re-targeted at Joe the Plumber, but not yet.

    However, we're experiencing weird weather right now, along with miscellaneous other forms of social stress, and a liberal administration is in office, so people who are even remotely predisposed to "think green" will at least test-drive the Volt when it comes out, because having one in your driveway will be like buying an indulgence. Talk about good timing.
     
  16. apollotrance1

    apollotrance1 Active Member

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    nothing really is wanted from that company anymore
     
  17. apollotrance1

    apollotrance1 Active Member

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    except for the G8 imo
     
  18. twistid

    twistid Banged By Super Models Moderator

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    it's not a bread and butter car.
     
  19. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    I'm pretty sure that's what I just said, yes.
     

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