Pontiac: 1926-2010

1926pontiac_six-100

General Motors acquired the Oakland Motor Car Company of Pontiac, Michigan, 100 years ago, and introduced the first Pontiac in 1926.

Costing $825, that first Pontiac sold more than 74,000 units in its debut year.

In the years since, Pontiac has provided driving excitement, inspired bouncy pop songs, and, like anything that’s been around for so many years, had its share of disappointments. 

Now that GM has officially announced their intention to kill off Pontiac, it’s time to unleash the Torrent of reactions and get the Vibe of the people who have experienced Pontiac, either through ownership or simple observation.

On this blog alone, we’ve drooled over Pontiacs as TV characters and muscle car icons. We’ve also chastised them as one of the worst cars money can buy, then gushed over the G8 when we were pretty sure Pontiac’s days were numbered. 

On a personal level, I owned a 1992 Grand Am that I still have very mixed feelings about. At first that car was the coolest thing on wheels, because it looked the part. It was white with a red interior, black front-end bra, and shiny three-spoke chrome wheels. I had the impression 1992-pontiac-grand-amthat it was fast simply because it looked like it should be. I lost interest in the car pretty quickly, though, because the 120-hp four-cylinder didn’t exactly deliver the performance I wanted.

Plus, my dad had a 1990 Trans Sport at the time that ended up catching fire. That’s about the time my family moved on to Honda.

In 2007 I rented a Grand Prix for a week hoping to see some major improvement over the last decade, but honestly I was disappointed in how the car handled and in the mysterious shakes and rattles coming from the engine department. 

I know my poor experiences with Pontiac are mostly the result of bad timing. Had I been driving in the late ’60s or had the G8 as my first return-to-Pontiac experience, I’d probably be much more nostalgic about the end of Pontiac. As it is, though, I see this as an end to a brand that just couldn’t live up to its early glories.

Do you have a Pontiac experience? Whether you love ’em, hate ’em, or don’t care either way, we want to know what you think about the death of Pontiac.

-tgriffith

3 Comments

  1. I think Randy nicely summed up the feelings of a lot of Pontiac fans.

  2. @Randy
    Randy, that’s a great story, thank you for first-hand insight into a little bit of Pontiac history.

  3. I might have an almost unique perspective about Pontiac. You see, I was born and raised in Pontiac, Michigan, which was the heart and soul of the brand until the 1980’s. You mention GM pulling the plug on Pontiac now, but the brand really died as unique produce with the advent of GM’s platform consolidations in the 1980’s.

    I grew up smelling the foundry (when the wind was right) where they made the iron to cast engine blocks and other parts. I walked by the old Oakland Motor Car factory on the way to school, and I worked several summers at Pontiac itself. That was a sprawling factory complex on the city’s North side, and included the foundry, Fisher Body plant, the various assembly plants, and pressed metal plant. I spent one summer assembling engine heads, and another summer in the pressed metal plant, feeding the giant presses. Pontiac’s headquarters and engineering center was also in the manufacturing complex, and even though many of the underpinnings of the cars were common, in those days each brand had much more identity than today. Pontiac even had it’s own factory dealership in downtown Pontiac, which I’m sure was always the first place in the country to get the latest models. Pontiac always seemed to have some unique models and features. The most notable I can remember was the new GTO, which I believe is the first true muscle car.
    When I returned from military service, I bought my parents (and grandparents) home and continued to live in Pontiac until the city had decayed to the point where it was no longer safe. By that time, the sprawling Pontiac manufacturing complex had become a polluted weed field and the Pontiac name became just another sticker applied at various factories around the country. I haven’t bought a Pontiac in many years for the simple reason that I could always find a comparable GM car with the same features at a lower price, and indeed, most often with more features at a lower price. It’s sad but as with most things GM has touched, Pontiac became a victim of the suite of diseases that has virtually destroyed the company– Overmanagement, aversion to risk and short-term decision making. GM embalmed and painted the corpse of Pontiac in the 1980’s, so it’s fitting that they are finally going to bury it. I know a big, empty space in Pontiac, Michigan they can use.

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