Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Pontiac, after 83 years, joins the list of extinct brands

37 posts in this topic

Pontiac, after 83 years, joins the list of extinct brands

JOHN K. TEAHEN JR.

AUTOMOTIVE NEWS

NOVEMBER 19, 2009 - 10:39 AM ET

Going. Going. Gone.

Any day now, a revered 83-year-old brand -- Pontiac -- will be a relic of the past, and a relic of what General Motors used to be.

Pontiac was introduced in 1926 to fill the price gap between Chevrolet and Oldsmobile, and the brand has had an up-and-down life.

It was a solid performer in its earlier days. But sales were unsatisfactory in the mid-1950s, and I’m sure some GM executives asked, “Do we really need Pontiac?”

After 1956 the answer was a thunderous, “You bet we do!” That year, Bunkie Knudsen, Pete Estes and John DeLorean took over Pontiac -- Knudsen as general manager, Estes as chief engineer and DeLorean as assistant chief engineer.

Their first car was the 1959 model, and it was a sensation. It had great styling, a split grille and, most important, “Wide-Track Drive,” a phrase coined by Pontiac’s ad agency, MacManus, John and Adams. Buyers told salesmen, “I want one of those Wide Tracks.”

The Glory Days

Estes and DeLorean succeeded Knudsen in the general manager’s office, and that decade was Pontiac’s golden age. In 1962 the brand was No. 3 in U.S. sales, and it stayed in third place until 1971. Sales peaked at 896,980 in 1978. Before Wide Track, Pontiac usually was in sixth place.

Today, all that is history.

GM, as we knew it, is gone, and so is Pontiac. The new downsized General Motors dumped it, along with Saturn and Hummer. The latter two were relative newcomers; Saturn arrived in 1990 and Hummer came in 2000.

I’m sure there was a hot debate in the GM boardroom when it came time to kill a few brands. Saturn had never been success (it was supposed to be an import fighter, remember?) and the humongous Hummer was a remnant of the SUV craze. Out they go.

But do we keep Buick or do we keep Pontiac? Pontiac partisans surely stressed sales; Pontiac has outsold Buick in 42 of the last 51 years. Pontiac clearly has the edge in styling. It’s GM’s sporty car division, and it has a fleet of small cars.

They kept Buick

Buick backers had history on their side. Buick was the foundation of GM when Billy Durant began putting GM together; Pontiac is a relative newcomer by comparison.

Buick also could call on GM patriarch Alfred Sloan and his theory of brand progression. Sloan felt buyers should step up from a Chevrolet to a Pontiac, to an Oldsmobile, to a Buick and, finally, to a Cadillac as their economic situation improved. Chevy to Pontiac is a mighty small step indeed, but Chevy to Buick is a significant step up the ladder.

But in the end, Buick lived and Pontiac died.

On Oct. 1, Pontiac dealers had 14,200 new cars and trucks on hand. Since then about 6,900 G6 models have been built for fleet sales. October sales totaled 10,646. Thus, about 10,450 remain. All should be sold by the end of this month.

Pontiac then will join Oldsmobile, Plymouth, Studebaker, Packard, Winton, Duesenberg and many other proud brands in the automotive graveyard. Pontiac will have sold an estimated 41 million cars and trucks during its 83-year life.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will always love Pontiac, for what it was, and for what it could have been. Take care, old friend.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes it has!

Chris

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^ Agreed.

-- -- -- -- --

>>"But sales were unsatisfactory in the mid-1950s"<<

^ Taking on aspects of urban legend... prolly unstoppable now.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

it just plain sucks....

I couldn't say it any better.

I really think GM won't like the repercussions of this particular course of action either.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really think GM won't like the repercussions of this particular course of action either.

I swear, GM fans sound like the PC in those Mac commercials.

"Windows 7 won't have any of the problems that Windows Vista had."

"Won have any of the problems Windows ME had"

And so on...

I feel like I've heard this before. A year from now, ten years from now, however long, whatever position GM is in wont have anything to do with Pontiac's meager following.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Satty, I'd bet that you threw rocks at hornets' nests as a child.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="

name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="
type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I swear, GM fans sound like the PC in those Mac commercials.

"Windows 7 won't have any of the problems that Windows Vista had."

"Won have any of the problems Windows ME had"

And so on...

I feel like I've heard this before. A year from now, ten years from now, however long, whatever position GM is in wont have anything to do with Pontiac's meager following.

Buford-T-Justice-IM-GOING-HOME-TO-K.jpg

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Satty, I'd bet that you threw rocks at hornets' nests as a child.

You mean that Satty is older than 13???

Damn...wow...that blows my mind.

chris

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I still throw rocks at hornets nests. Its a fun time for everyone.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I still throw rocks at hornets nests. Its a fun time for everyone.

Thats why we like you so much Satty. First good laugh all day...

But honestly Pontiac will be missed. especially the G8 but it sounds like even stupid GM is going to right that wrong, and as Kenny Rogers would say its about damn time.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I still think that GM could have kept Pontiac going as a more sport oriented complimentary brand to Buick's more luxury oriented leanings.

Pontiac could have been:

* LeMans: Upcoming next gen Opel Astra 3-door and 5-door. Focus would be on a blend of sportiness and practicality. As much as I favor Buick and love the design of the upcoming next gen Astra 5-door, I still have a hard time imagining Buick selling a hatchback product. I think Pontiac could pull it off if it was given a sporty spin.

* Grand Prix: Current Opel Insignia sedan. I love the Insignia, but there is something about its styling that still says "Pontiac" more than "Buick". I think it would have made a great Grand Prix sedan.

* Bonneville: Rechristened G8 sedan. Let's face it, Pontiac should have never been saddled with the ridiculous G-numeric naming scheme. This car should have been graced with Pontiac's established and accepted flagship sedan model name: "Bonneville".

Meanwhile, Buick would have been:

* Centieme: Next gen Opel Astra sedan. Focus would be on providing a premium driving experience.

* Invicta: 2010 LaCrosse rechristened with the name it should have been given in the first place. Invicta would focus on luxury while the smaller Grand Prix would focus on sportiness.

* LeSabre: Rechristened and modified Holden Statesman to serve as a proper flagship sedan for Buick. In addition to applying a waterfall grille to the front end, I would also make a couple of other modifications. The first one would be to delete the front fender vent/indicator and install ventiports higher up on the front fenders. Turn indicator lamps would be installed on the side view mirror housings. I would also restyle the decklid, taillights, and rear fascia to appear more Buick-like and less Chevy-esque. The LeSabre would focus on providing a luxurious environment while the Bonneville would focus on sporty driving dynamics.

* 2-3 CUV products to round out the brand's lineup.

If GM would have executed something similar to this, it would have a strong midmarket B-P-G dealer network that appealed to a wide variety of demographics. Pontiac and Buick could have coexisted and complimented each other without overlapping and competing against each other (and Pontiac could have been transformed into a relevant niche brand without carrying blatantly rebadged Chevrolet clone products).

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My lineup might have been different, but yes, Pontiac could and should have been saved.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My lineup might have been different, but yes, Pontiac could and should have been saved.

Pontiac should have been kept alive, with the focus on what cire mentioned as their line-up but without the - get ready for it - Zeta offering. Pontiac should have offered a small sporty car (Astra) and a intermediate-sized sporty car (Insignia) and when ready, a sporty 2-seater a'la Solstice (Alpha). Buick would pickup with the mid-size (LaCrosse) to large sedan (Zeta), and offered no more than the Enclave as it's CUV. GMC is there to handle the rest of the truck needs. Offerings in the small-medium (Pontiac) and Medium-Large cars (Buick), and Small-Medium-Large Trucks (GMC) could have made these dealers some money and kept the three brands alive. Maybe that's what Holden will do once they're intergrated into N/A.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pontiac should have been kept alive, with the focus on what cire mentioned as their line-up but without the - get ready for it - Zeta offering. Pontiac should have offered a small sporty car (Astra) and a intermediate-sized sporty car (Insignia) and when ready, a sporty 2-seater a'la Solstice (Alpha). Buick would pickup with the mid-size (LaCrosse) to large sedan (Zeta), and offered no more than the Enclave as it's CUV. GMC is there to handle the rest of the truck needs. Offerings in the small-medium (Pontiac) and Medium-Large cars (Buick), and Small-Medium-Large Trucks (GMC) could have made these dealers some money and kept the three brands alive. Maybe that's what Holden will do once they're intergrated into N/A.

I think Pontiac could have survived on only Alpha, coupe sedan 2 seater and a crossover something like the FX35, and Zeta, coupe sedan and ute.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is it extinct? I wonder ... :smilewide:

I hope for GM's sake that the its not, and that like the Opel and SAAB stories, gets a last minute reversal... all being a song and dance for the gov'ment support.

Of course, with the Holden rumors, I still think its easier and better to dave an existing brand and infrastructure rather than build a whole new one.

And without a revival the Pontiac faithful I know aren't coming back to GM.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In light of all this I've gone back to my original avatar... GM's core brands as they were when I joined C+G.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

my grandparents were pretty pissed about losing pontiac this year. they couldnt understand why they were picked to go. they loved their 96 bonne, so much so that they traded it in on a new 97 bonne the next year. it gave em 140K faithful trouble free miles so they traded it in on an 08 G6 this past go round. i tried my very best to get them into a G8 but they traded the 97 in and paid cash the rest... cant really argue someone into payments can you.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   You have pasted content with formatting.   Remove formatting

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0