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Where would Pontiac be now?


#1

On this day, April 27, 2009, General Motors announced that it would wind down the Pontiac brand as a part of the company’s restructuring following the housing and banking collapse of 2007–08. Many of the Pontiac faithful, including some members of the Hagerty editorial staff, are ardent fans of the brand and were sorry to see it go.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/04/27/where-would-pontiac-be-now

#2

Since the current trend is to recreate the earlier Challenger, Camaro and Mustang styles I feel that if they recreated the 1967 GTO body style or 1974 Trans Am it would be a big seller. Just my two cents.


#3

Pontiac was my favorite GM brand. I had a '68 LeMans convertible, a '71 LeMans hardtop, a '78 Bonneville, a '96 Grand Prix and even a Montana minivan. They all had that sporty feel and unique smell to them (yes, they smelled like Pontiacs) and felt just a bit better built than the Chevys. The Oldsmobiles and Buicks were for the older crowd, and the Cadillacs for the folks with money. I think Buick and Cadillac have tried to fill the void Pontiac left, but not very successfully. If they were still around, I would imagine some kick butt GTOs, maybe a hot rod Catalina, and Grand Prixs for those that couldn’t afford a Cadillac, but didn’t want a dowdy Buick no matter how you positioned them. If only…


#4

I have owned a lot of Chevy, Buick and Pontiac cars over the years, the Pontiacs were always my favorites and better cars. Sportier and more luxurious than the Chevys. What do I think would be the Pontiacs i would want today? I currently have one of the LS GTOs and it is a terrific car and I would love to see another GTO with the new Z06 LS engine in a body based on the Camaro but with better style and visibility from the driver’s seat. The other car would be a new 2 door only Grand Prix with the same engine and built on a Caddy chasis in a more formal design with lots of luxury yet sporty.


#5

I think we would have seen a rear-drive screamer with Camaro / CTS bones. That 6.2L V-series engine would fit very nicely behind a hawk-nosed split grill!

On a tamer note, I think the '08 Torrent I owned was one of the best vehicles I’ve ever had until the fatal error. If not for the pesky fuel pump crack that developed at 200K, I’d still be driving that wonderful car.


#6

Bought a 07 Solstice from a older couple, original owners, 18k miles…tremendous car, lots of fun, best of all, GM. Miss Olds, also but love my old Caddy’s.


#7

I have owned multiple Pontiac’s myself, and miss the brand dearly! I imagine (like others have said) a screaming hot Firebird in different variations, including a Trans Am at the top. Definitely a GTO based on the 67 or earlier body style, with a top-featured crazy-fast model (Judge? Probably not named that) that would keep pace with any Hemi-Demon type car. I could also see an SUV with the hottest Pontiac engine, leaving the Jeep Hellcats in their dust! A Grand Prix or Catalina coupe would be cool, with a 2+2 model. And of course, as others have said, some Bonneville cars and (definitely) crossovers that marry luxury with speed. I miss my old GTO, as well as my 72 Grandville convertible with a torque monster 455 and power everything. Should never have sold those! On a budget now, I have my 62 LeMans convertible that is unique and a blast to cruise in. Maybe, someday, we’ll see Pontiacs on the road again.


#8

What would a 2018 Firebird Formula look like if Pontiac had been allowed to survive? I’ll never get rid of mine.


#9

I think that I would have liked a Pontiac version of the Holden Commodore Station Wagon with an engine similar to the LS3 with either a 6 speed manual or 6 speed automatic.
The Holden was awesome and now GM has even shut them down as Ford has shut down the Australian Ford plants.
The Holden Maloo was an Sport Utility Vehicle that held a record as one of the fastest stock cars on the planet.


#10

My first three cars were Pontiacs, a 1949, 1953 and 1957. I had the '57 Chieftain before I went into the Army in 1961 and a different one when I got out. I hated to see Pontiac disappear. However, I currently am enjoying my 3rd 1957 Pontiac Chieftain. https://tinyurl.com/My1957pontiacchieftain


#11

GM blew it in 99 when they previewed 2 prototype cars. The Pontiac Aztec, and a retro Chevy Nomad that looked like the original Nomad, a 54 Corvette wagon. They picked the Aztec. it proved they had a new generation of designers who grew up playing with transformers and not
drag racing match box cars. It’s been told , the Aztec was so rejected that GM put 7000 of them on the streets for local GM dealership sales people to mingle in traffic.
The only thing keeping GM alive is the Suburban, Tahoe, and pick-up trucks and will one day only have that line-up. The throw-away imports will dominate the boring transportation segment. The American love affair with cars will die with the exit of the “boomers”


#12

“It’s been told, the Aztec was so rejected that GM put 7000 of them on the streets for local GM dealership sales people to mingle in traffic.”

This is true, though I can’t vouch for the 7,000 figure. I will add that it also extended to salaried Pontiac employees who had company vehicles. They were also encouraged to allow family-members rides and short drives. The idea was that the design wasn’t really ugly, just radically different and if regular folks saw enough other folks driving them, it’d generate interest and change perceptions. And if folks got behind the wheel, they’d come to appreciate the high seating position and the ease with which it could maneuver in traffic and in parking lots. And experience the utility.
I’m not so sure it’s a bad theory - people do seem to have sheep-like tendencies and, as the baby SUV craze has shown us, there is a big demand for their mix of (some of) the utility of a minivan, the visibility of the SUV-level seating position, and the drive/park-ability of a car…
As a targeted family member, I found it pretty distasteful in appearance, but not a bad driver at all. I just found myself hurrying from and to it so as to minimize the chances anyone might see me get behind the wheel and assume I actually bought one…yes, vanity is a powerful thing and it sells - or doesn’t sell - a lot of cars…

Incidentally, I am a Pontiac G8 GT owner having bought one of the first 2008s to hit our local market. Mine’s not a ‘First 888’ G8 (I was offered to be) because I preferred the red seat inserts and 19-inch wheels that you could not get in a ‘First 888.’ It has been a fantastic car! It’s only issue over it’s 100,000+ miles has been the oil pressure sensor at 98,000-ish. And it’s a lot of fun to drive!!


#13

I happen to be the lucky owner of one of the rarest of 4th gen. Firebirds. It’s a 1994 Firehawk Formula, number 480 of 500 built that year…and the ONLY one built without power windows, locks and mirrors…verified by Hagerty and www.firehawk.org. ONE of a kind…sweet car with just 45K. I’ll probably never sell it.


#14

It was my intention to turn PONTIAC into a US BMW starting with the 1973 GRAN AM !!
At the time, that seemed to be a more logical and profitable choice to follow…And a believable one.!
Bill Collins


#15

I would hope If Pontiac was still around they would produce a retro version on the Lemans. When they brought it back in the 80’s it was extremely disappointing. But givin the current market with retro Mustangs, Camaro’s and Challenger’s I know GTO’s, TransAm’s, Formulas and even Grand Prix would generate record sales. When GM pulled Pontiac from the public they made a poor business decision. Let’s “Build Excitement” again!!


#16

I owned a lot of Pontiacs. Loved the cars. Still have a couple. Jim Wangers had a special
69 GTO Judge prototype that was exciting. Of course, he has the original too.


#17

Love the G8GT and bought one as the marque was on its way out the door. We still have the car and love its performance and looks. We had a Firebird when we were young and the family all had Pontiacs at some point in time. Ventura Hatchback, '65 GTO, '73 Firebird, Catalina and then the G8.

Great cars! The brand should have never been closed out.


#18

Firebird Formula 1970 Retro, ram air with the dual long scoops! But NOT on anything Camaro! Would love to see Some billionaire start the brand again with a stand alone Pontiac from scratch.


#19

My older brother tried to stay loyal to Pontiac and other North American brands, but after many of them, now drives Honda. He owned a 1982 Firebird, a Quad 4 Grand Am and a Grand Prix from the early 2000’s. All were very disappointing regarding mechanical quality control and in the shop way more than they should have been. The Firebird was probably the best of the 3 and the Quad 4 the worst. I agree with Mark and believe that GM will just be an SUV and truck company one day just like Ford is doing, except for the Mustang and some kind of Focus. Won’t it be great to tune into the Sunday NASCAR race and watch Toyota duke it out with Hyundai and Kia! It would be nice to see the Firebird brought back as I always thought they were better looking cars than the Camaro.


#20

Easy… Here goes:

Reintroduce the brand as a 100% lifestyle brand. Sales volume shouldn’t be the focus. If GM wants sales volume, they need to whip Chevrolet or Buick/Cadillac. Pontiac needs to mean something (which is something I’m fairly certain GM’s tepid and flawed marketing could never pull off), and build a base of loyal buyers. Think: Mini or Subaru.

Reintroduce the brand through the Buick/GMC sales channel in select markets. Most likely big cities. Places where the dealers are willing to invest in the brand, and just enough dealers so the brand builds allure.

ENTRY 1 (codename: Tempest) – Import the Buick Astra GS from China.

  • Turn up the boost a bit.
  • Spend a little money on lightly updated styling for this market.
  • Create appealing option groups.

This car is here for one reason: entry in to the Pontiac brand. It needs to be something sporty and attractive (not half-hearted) that’ll attract people who might’ve bought a Focus ST or Civic Si. Could it be structured to compete with stuff like the Focus RS, Civic Type-R and Golf R? Sure… IF, and that’s a big if, the sales could justify the investment. Which brings me to the whole method behind the car. GM sorely lacks a hot compact. However, there is NO reason to invest in such a product in the current sales environment (2/3rds of the market is crossovers). This is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to plug that hole in GM’s line-up. Labor costs aren’t a concern. Volume isn’t a concern (think: Envision. U.S. sales would be icing on the cake, like that model). Investment isn’t huge. It gets young folks in a Pontiac showroom. And it isn’t something that can be bought at Buick or Chevrolet.

ENTRY 2: (codename GTO) Developed on either Alpha II or VSS-R and produced at Lansing Grand River.

  • Large capacity coupe or, more likely, sedan.
  • Multiple specialized trims with 4 or 8-cylinder (and maybe 6-cylinder power) – all existing GM engines.
  • No stripper or fleet models (If you want a stripper car, go to Chevrolet)
  • The most traditional offering.

This appeals to the purists (of which I am one). The Charger and Challenger are already the only large, volume market RWD products on the market and, soon enough, they’ll be some of the last large cars left on the volume market. The idea here is to compete in that realm. Traditionalists. But, at the same time, the entry wouldn’t compete with Chevrolet, as the Camaro is obviously growing in to more of a sports car to pick up lost front-mid engine Corvette sales (in the future). Nor would it compete with Cadillac, as the upcoming CT4 and CT5 won’t have the same content/size ratios. If Buick were to ever re-introduce RWD, they could go with a larger footprint (think: Omega). If played correctly, this component set could even be used for a crossover-like wagon (or traditional wagon, which, while cool, would likely never happen). This entry could be produced at LGR, since slow Camaro and ATS sales mean there’s probably plenty of room to fill capacity.

ENTRY 3 (codename: Fiero or Solstice) Developed on future Corvette underpinnings, assembled in Bowling Green

  • Brand halo
  • Low volume
  • Technology showcase

This could go one of two ways. 1) De-content (in a good way) – make it a pure driver’s car) the rumored Cadillac and Corvette Zora mid-engine supercar, make it affordable and top out with V6 power (Think: Ford GT – more about track performance and engineering than pure muscle). 2) IF the Corvette goes mid-engine only, and the front-mid platform is retired after C7, pick up where that car left off. Y-Body HAS to be printing money at this point, so investment should be pretty low. As for the mid-engine program, more volume means more cash.

ENTRY 4 (codename: Piranha) Developed on D2XX. Assembly: ??

  • Small, sporty crossover that needs to really hit the mark to establish the brand
  • A second entry point for the brand
  • Roughly the size of the Cadillac XT4
  • Built around driving and utility more than anything else

This is where the money is in today’s market and, as a result, this is where the bulk of development money should be spent. The formula is easy. The entry would probably be about the size of the Envision, so they might compete a bit (although, ideally, the character of the two offerings would be very different) But, since Envision is imported in small volume anyway, it shouldn’t matter too much.

ENTRY 5 (codename: REV) Developed on Chi and assembled at Spring Hill

  • Mainstream crossover in size
  • Roughly the size of the XT5
  • Same formula as Piranha

Once again, easy money. XT5-size is a bit smaller than Acadia, so the Pontiac/Buick/GMC channel would have the following crossover structure 1) Encore 2) Envision/Piranha 3) Terrain 4) REV 5) Acadia 6) Enclave.

Next up: Hummer.