Lets start off with the obvious, in the last 20 years Pontiac was crap. Nothing but a rebadged Chevrolet. The last cool thing they did was put pop up headlights on a Camaro, which ended in 1992 to a deformed abortion of a Camaro that was already pretty hard to look at. GM and the government are receiving a lot of flak based on the fact that the government forced GM to drop a brand, but when the man whose holding a 50 billion dollar cheque says jump, you don’t ask why, you ask how high.
How the cookie crumbled for Pontiac
Pontiac had lost its way a long time ago, originally set out to be the Lincoln of Chevrolet, it wound up quickly losing its identity in a barrage of absolutely paltry pathetic pieces of toaster oven powered poo boxes. Look at cars like the Pontiac 6000, this is an economy version of the Chevrolet celebrity. That’s right, a less powerful and less optioned Chevrolet celebrity. I bet you didn’t think that was possible did you? However if you were feeling hairy chested and manly like Chuck Norris and Bruce Springsteen fighting in a dojo backdrop with explosions, you could opt for the 2.8L v6 that pushed 112 horsepower. Or you could spring for the STE model where power windows came standard. Holy crap you’re probably thinking, standard power windows and 173 cubic inches of pure American power? How did Pontiac go bust with all that gold? Truth is, it was gold, because for several years the 6000 was Pontiac’s best seller.
The bird with the badass word
I personally am a huge fan of the firebird, I think they managed to tweak the Camaro in all the right places up until 1992. Starting in 1967 when it was first introduced, it took the world by storm and sold significantly less than the Camaro or mustang. It also had a problem with the front suspension that caused the wheel to hop while going around a fast corner. The side effects of this were nasty car accidents and death. In 1968 they didn’t change much but fixed the wheel hop problem. In 1969 they introduced the Trans am model. This came with the 400ci ram air shared with the famous GTO. It only came in one paint color though which was white with blue stripes. Why you ask? Because they can that’s why.
In 1973 right after a monumental fuel crisis, Pontiac was even bold enough to wedge a massive, gas thirsty high performance 455 sd into the engine bay. In 1982 things got even more awesome, when they introduced pop up headlights. I had an ’85 firebird when I was 17, and even though that 5L V8 pushed out about the same horsepower as my dishwasher, it was a damn cool car. I had tried to convince my friends that it was fast by doing brake stands and donuts (the latter being actually quite difficult and on more than one occasion I actually had to have my friends get out and watch because the weight of them in the car prevented my rear tires from getting loose.) But when all else failed and my car seemed it could be out raced by a turtle on Xanax, or a Pontiac 6000, I would just pop up the headlights and my friends would stand in aww. That’s why I loved the firebird, it always had that “x factor”. That extra bit of cool that the mustang and Camaro couldn’t really get.
What could have been?
Contrary to all this awesome, in 2002 they dropped the firebird. Which only happened because they dropped the Camaro. If the Camaro had kept going Pontiac would have continued to ugly up three body panels and stick a triangle badge on it. By 1994 it was already getting pretty sad, and without the firebird to juice up the image of Pontiac. They really just turned into a Saturn with rear wheel drive. All of this is unfortunate because in 2008 they released the G8, which I believe is one of the most underrated cars to ever enter production. It seemed that after all this Pontiac was on the upswing, once further becoming the performance brand it was set it to be. Sadly after subsidiary brand hemorrhages money for 10 years, one good high performance sedan won’t be enough to bring it back. So in the end I say good riddance Pontiac, but thank you for the firebird.
Let me know what you think about Pontiac’s brand in the comments below: