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Intrepidation

Pontiac and the Trailer Trash

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This semi-regular column is written (in his own blood) by an automotive sage and noted malcontent, known as The Mechanic. Mercilessly beaten as a child with rolled-up back issues of old car magazines, our free-spoken hero developed a unique "for your own good" take on cars and the auto industry, along with an unfortunate habit of setting himself ablaze. Later, after a distinguished career as an automotive journalist and magazine editor, he cast off the reins of his musty oppressors, carved out his superego with a plastic spork and became The Mechanic.

I don't know how to save General Motors. Do you?

Wait, before you answer do me a favor and shut up. You don't know. Nobody does.

Oh, there are plenty of people out there, from senators to meth dealers, who think they know how to turn the once great automaker back to great, but they don't know either. I've been covering the auto industry for more than 20 years. And in that time I've seen GM try anything and everything more than once, only to see things get worse.

Cut costs? Been tried. Better product? Been tried. Fewer brands? Been tried. More interesting design? Been tried. Import more cars from overseas? Been tried. Build more trucks? Been tried. Build more cars? Been tried. Build more small cars? Been tried. More platform-sharing? Been tried. Less platform-sharing? Been tried. Think of them as brands, not cars? Been tried. Think of them as cars, not brands? Been tried. Restructure? Been tried. Restructure again? Been tried. Think more global? Been tried. World cars? Been tried. Export cars to Japan? Been tried. Vehicles with more features and higher price tags? Been tried. Vehicles with lower prices and optional everything including air-conditioning and ABS? Been tried. Cars with plastic bodies? Been tried. Muscle cars? Been tried? Rebadged Toyotas? Been tried. Short product cycles? Been tried. Long product cycles? Been tried. New nameplates? Been tried. Reviving old nameplates? Been tried. Consolidate? Been tried. Expand? Been tried? Increase fleet sales? Been tried. Decrease fleet sales? Been tried. Front-wheel-drive cars? Been tried? Rear-wheel-drive cars? Been tried. Tiger Woods? Been tried. Fewer dealers? Been tried. More Internet marketing? Been tried. Rebadge small cars from Korea? Been tried. Hummer? Been tried. Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday? Been tried. Race at Le Mans? Been tried. Sponsor baseball? Been tried. Build new factories? Been tried. Build cars in Canada? Been tried. Mexico? Been tried. Close old plants? Been tried. Improve quality? Been tried. Hire Bob Lutz? Been tried. Cater to us car enthusiasts? Been tried. Pander to the lemmings who love their Camrys? Been tried. Alternative-fuel vehicles? Been tried. Hybrids? Been tried. Electric cars? Been tried. Carlike trucks? Been tried. Halo cars? Been tried. Rebadged Holdens? Been tried. Rebadged Opels? Been tried. Let car guys run the show? Been tried. MBAs? Been tried. Alphanumeric names? Been tried. More chrome? Been tried. Less chrome? Been tried. No chrome? Been tried.

http://blogs.edmunds.com/straightline/mech...pontiac-555.jpg

And yet, after all that, they're still on the brink of bankruptcy. Disturbing. More disturbing is the implosion of Pontiac. Once a great division of the great GM, it has for decades survived on selling overstyled and under-engineered Grand Ams and Sunfires to the trailer trash of our country's midsection. And for awhile the double-wide demographic was keeping Pontiac in the black. But I never understood how selling bad cars to the low IQ, low-income, beer-for-breakfast crowd was Pontiac's actual business plan. But it was. And bad taste marketed to the dumb was good business for quite some time.

And Saturn. Saturn was once a success story. Now it's dead. And for many of the same reasons.

How? Why? How did Pontiac get stuck with the losers, while Honda, Nissan, Toyota and BMW became the brands of the college grads and people who eat with utensils? How did it get so upside-down? Why is there a Saturn parked beside most mobile homes, while consumers with teeth and good credit are now buying Hyundais? Why do you see more Pontiacs on the TV show Cops than any other car?

I don't know the answers. Sure, the best thing about the Aztek was the styling (if you've driven one, you know what I mean), and the Ion was the worst car I've ever driven in my life, but every car company has made mistakes in the last couple of decades. Flops are part of the biz. Look at Acura. It had two terrible TLs nobody wanted before hitting it big with the third generation. And the RL has consistently missed the market. But the public gives Honda's luxury division a pass on these mistakes, while holding grudges against domestic brands for the similar offenses. Why is the first TL forgivable, but not the first G6?

I don't understand it. Does anybody? -- The Mechanic, Inside Line Contributor
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Damn, that was a good read. Too Funny as we all have stated bits and parts of this. Hell for all we know he could have spent a few weeks drinking beer and reading our forums and then compiled this for the masses.

Too Funny! :)

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Damn, that was a good read. Too Funny as we all have stated bits and parts of this. Hell for all we know he could have spent a few weeks drinking beer and reading our forums and then compiled this for the masses.

Too Funny! :)

No, if this were written by someone who read C&G, there would be a few EXCITEMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! references.

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No, if this were written by someone who read C&G, there would be a few EXCITEMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! references.

True, we all live and breath "EXCITEMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Edited by dfelt
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ur doin it rong moar [/ i]

Corrected! :P Thank you

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I don't know the answers. Sure, the best thing about the Aztek was the styling (if you've driven one, you know what I mean), and the Ion was the worst car I've ever driven in my life, but every car company has made mistakes in the last couple of decades. Flops are part of the biz. Look at Acura. It had two terrible TLs nobody wanted before hitting it big with the third generation. And the RL has consistently missed the market. But the public gives Honda's luxury division a pass on these mistakes, while holding grudges against domestic brands for the similar offenses. Why is the first TL forgivable, but not the first G6?

I don't understand it. Does anybody? -- The Mechanic, Inside Line Contributor

It's called The media

Edited by FUTURE_OF_GM
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The media made Pontiac produce crappy cars?

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The media made Pontiac produce crappy cars?

DUH! Where the hell have you been the last 6 years? :neenerneener:

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it's really disturbing that i know an area in Indiana where this is very true. EXCITEMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! sad but very accurate.

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The media made Pontiac produce crappy cars?

Pontiac doesn't produce crappy cars... (At least according to people on this board and the media -- the G6 is the same thing as a Malibu, remember? :))

And what exactly is so "crappy" about the G8, Solstice, G6 and Vibe?

(I'll give you G3 and G5... Torrent is negotiable; at the time it was introduced, it was hailed as better than the Equinox)

My point is (Bear with me; I know this is hard for some simple minds on the board to understand) IMAGE The media (news and pop culture) CREATED the image that Pontiac = trailer trash as well as the image that *ALL* Pontiacs ever built were and are crap.

If that's NOT the case, then someone (anyone of you market gurus) tell me why the products aren't selling?

Do you think that Joe/Jane Public gives half a $h! about most of the stuff we debate here? Then, why isn't Joe/Jane Public buying a Pontiac that is comparable or BETTER than their japanese company of choice. (ALL of us here know that the Japanese companies produce appliances that are pretty inferior in the grand scheme of things these days)

Edited by FUTURE_OF_GM
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The G6 is the same thing as the previous-gen Malibu. The MAXX, if you want to be exact. Not the current Malibu, which is a passable product.

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Pontiac doesn't produce crappy cars... (At least according to people on this board and the media -- the G6 is the same thing as a Malibu, remember? :))

And what exactly is so "crappy" about the G8, Solstice, G6 and Vibe?

(I'll give you G3 and G5... Torrent is negotiable; at the time it was introduced, it was hailed as better than the Equinox)

My point is (Bear with me; I know this is hard for some simple minds on the board to understand) IMAGE The media (news and pop culture) CREATED the image that Pontiac = trailer trash as well as the image that *ALL* Pontiacs ever built were and are crap.

If that's NOT the case, then someone (anyone of you market gurus) tell me why the products aren't selling?

Do you think that Joe/Jane Public gives half a $h! about most of the stuff we debate here? Then, why isn't Joe/Jane Public buying a Pontiac that is comparable or BETTER than their japanese company of choice. (ALL of us here know that the Japanese companies produce appliances that are pretty inferior in the grand scheme of things these days)

Pontiac has made lots of crappy products over the years. We have like 20 pages dedicated to them. It's one thing to have a lot of a good cars and a few crappy ones every now and then, it's another to have a lot of crappy ones with a few good ones every now and then.

A Torrent is an Equinocx with red lighting and a different nose. I do hope that's not the best arguement that can be made for Pontiac's EXCITEMENT!!!! cars.

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In what way is any Pontiac superior to any import? Take the badges off the hood and who will pick a G^ over a Camry? Or Accord? Or Sonata? Or 6? Or even over a Fusion or Malibu? The G6 is at the bottom of the heap in its class, in fact the only Pontiacs that aren't bottom of the heap are the models in heaps that only include one or two other cars.

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The only Pontiac that can stand above everything in it's class (large car) is the G8.

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