Pontiac to be taken out behind the woodshed in 2010

Bye bye Mr. Pontiac guy. Drove my Chevy to the levy, because nobody has driven a Pontiac since 1979…

Today GM announced its worst kept secret since the Corvette ZR1 – that it is killing Pontiac. I wonder, however, if you can really kill something that has been dead for years. The announcement has caused a steep decline in stock price of body cladding and steering wheel-mounted button suppliers, as well as caused panic among the lower quartile of automotive design soon-to-be graduates, who now will have one fewer opportunity for employment.

Just a number of months ago GM announced that Pontiac was destined to become a niche brand. Since Pontiac has offered no clear segment leaders…or any platform leaders, for that matter, the nameplate has been operating functionally as a niche brand since the Trans Am ceased to be an image and sales success (yet still lagging behind Camaro in total units) back in the “Smokey and the Bandit” era.

In all honesty, this a smart move that is a long time coming. With the exception of the GTO (1964-1972), Trans Am (1969-1979), Bonneville (1957-1959), and possibly the Catalina Sport Coupe 421ci (1961 until it was eclipsed by the GTO in ‘64), Pontiac really has never been a really impressive auto builder. Seeing that it started as a lower-priced alternative to Oakland, it was always too close to Chevy. Calling it the “performance division” was really nothing more than marketing spin.

As for the rest of GM’s death row: Hummer, Saturn, Saab, only time will tell if these will be purchased or just shut-down. Saturn dealers are dropping like flies, making it less desirable to companies like Fiat, which could use the distributors to sell their fuel-efficient cars if and when a deal with Chrysler falls through.

The so-called surviving brands, Chevy, Buick, Caddy, and GMC still have a long way to go. GMC could just as easily be killed, since most GMC are shared products with Chevy. Buick is only popular in China and in US retirement home parking lots, so it could eventually become a Far East-only brand.

Caddy and Chevy are safe, because when inferior cars to Lexus, BMW, Toyota, and Honda are built, Chevy and Cadillac will build them…with “more horsepower” as the sole reason the company will cite for the products being better.

With three out of my last four new cars coming from GM (two Corvettes and an Oldsmobile Intrigue) one might accuse me of utilizing humor to hide my frustration.

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One Response to Pontiac to be taken out behind the woodshed in 2010

  1. David Zarkom says:

    My Dad, Phil Zarkin who died in 2004, was the proud owner of a late gold Pontiac Grand Prix with bucket seats and a center console shift. He was a huge GM guy and had a ’55 Oldsmobile. I feel a bit of a loss with the sad demise of GM. Maybe Fiat will revive Saab, Opel and Vauxhall, although they really aren’t GM are they? I guess if I ever want a Pontiac or Olds I better act now.

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