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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Who Killed Pontiac

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Much of what was listed I had no idea.  I suspect a significant reason Pontiac was killed was because there was no real advocate in the C-Suite for Pontiac itself.  Cadillac does; so does Corvette and the trucks.  Most of what was sacrificed from GM in the last 20 years had poor differentiation and no real advocate and no real visionary for that particular car marque.  I suspect that Oldsmobile probably was suffocated the same way but a little differently, especially after 1990.

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Pontiac was killed way before the recession, it's just that the body was still twitching.  When they killed the Grand Am in favor of the G6, when they killed the Bonneville, when they killed the Grand Prix coupes, and most especially when they killed the Firebird/Trans Am.  Pontiac had little reason to exist at the end.  The Solstice, GTO and G8 were good tries, but too little too late. 

Oldsmobile wasn't starved of product, they had some of the best models available on their given platforms at the time.  The problem was the image that came with Olds was poor.  It was still an "old man's car" even though the Intrigue and Aurora had a stealth fighter look to them.  The Aleros were good little cars, but couldn't stand up against the more racy looking Grand Am.

I think we all know that Buick was saved due to China.... a decision that seems even more salient today when 3 out of every 4 Buicks sold is sold in China.  Buick China also has a much larger lineup than Buick North America.   

Cadillac is heading the same way. There are now more Cadillacs sold in China than sold in the US. 

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I had a '98 Intrigue and I really liked the car.  Probably the best car I had prior to my current '08 Lucerne.  I really wanted (15 years ago) a first-generation Aurora.  Now both are much too old to buy (without a ridiculous number of miles).

Yes it is true that Buick was saved by China.  I personally am glad that GM is not just Chevrolet and Cadillac.  I guess perception is reality.  Really sad, especially since Pontiac should have been RWD coupes and sedans while Chevy did the FWD cars.

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23 minutes ago, riviera74 said:

I had a '98 Intrigue and I really liked the car.  Probably the best car I had prior to my current '08 Lucerne.  I really wanted (15 years ago) a first-generation Aurora.  Now both are much too old to buy (without a ridiculous number of miles).

Yes it is true that Buick was saved by China.  I personally am glad that GM is not just Chevrolet and Cadillac.  I guess perception is reality.  Really sad, especially since Pontiac should have been RWD coupes and sedans while Chevy did the FWD cars.

Pontiac could have been an all-Alpha and Zeta platform lineup, plus the necessary crossovers.

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13 minutes ago, Drew Dowdell said:

Pontiac could have been an all-Alpha and Zeta platform lineup, plus the necessary crossovers.

Exactly what the sainted Bob Lutz wanted

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Id like to add that Pontiac was starting to die when they started selling minivans. The body cladded dustbuster Transport was a dud for all brands, at least the Pontiac kinda looked like the racy image that Pontiac stood for. Its too bad that the Transport itself was devoid of any real sportiness though. Then thenew generation succesor came and that one was one of the worsed badge engineering jobs that  GM ever done. And I think that generation also had major reliability issues.

The Pontiac Torrent was a necessary addition for the crossover craze in the Pontiac line-up regardless of what type of vehicle the Torrect was. It was too damned bad that the Torrent was also a bad badge engineering job. That killed Pontiac's image too.

The Aztek was a cool crossover idea, better then the Torrent idea. The Aztek stood for all the right enthusiast excitement that Pontiac  stood for. Its an even worse tragedy that the Aztek looked the way it did. In today's world the Aztek's looks are really on par with what we got. 20 years ago when it came out...OUCH!!!

I think the Alero did alright in the sales department compared to the Grand Am. (I think the Alero was a good way forward for Oldsmobile rather than a detriment especially when the Grand Am is concerned vis-avis the Alero). At least it wasnt a badge engineering job the way the Pursuit/G5 was to the Cobalt.  And the Sunbird/Sunfire to the Cavalier.  And to be honest,  The N Platform FWD Grand Am of the 1980s, were a trio of bad badge engineering jobs with the Calais and the Somerset. That was also a detriment to Pontiac. 

The 1990s plastic body cladded Grand Am, especially the uber plastic body cladded GT was actually a plus for Pontiac. And the Grand Prix. 

I think going to G6 and G8 was not a good idea, but by then, Pontiac was already done for. 

The Firebird/Trans Am needed to be re-invented. 

The concept Rageous is maybe what the Trans Am should have been?

Image result for pontiac rageous

 

Related image

Image result for pontiac rageous

 

And I see what Pontiac did...they actually did produce the Rageous concept. But it took 3 models to do the job of this one...and all duds.  The Vibe and the Aztek with the hatchback utility thing and the sporty, enthusiastic and aggressive styling cues. And then killing FWD 4 door GP to go RWD with the G8. 

Maybe in 2003, when the F-Body went away and GM was spending millions in getting a dull (for a GTO) 2 door coupe (and coupes werent selling then hence the F-Bodys going away...) (and GM spending millions in converting a GMT360 into a Camaro replacement roadster) from Autralia over here, maybe they should have replaced both the GP/G8 and Trans Am with the Rageous. Tone down the styling...but yeah.

And then maybe the Aztek need not be that radical and ugly. And then maybe the G6, Torrent replacement, G5 and Vibe would sell in high enough numbers to be bread and butter. And the excitement needed for Pontiac would exist with the Aztek, Solstice and Rageous to continue on with the "we build excitement".  

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I would have loved to have seen what an SD455 1973 Grand Am or Grand Prix could do.

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Posted (edited)
36 minutes ago, ocnblu said:

I would have loved to have seen what an SD455 1973 Grand Am or Grand Prix could do.

1973?

Its a shame that this had to happen...

Related image

 

To which big block V8s were mostly done for.  

This:

Related image

 

is as close as we would get to your wish as a result of the 1st pic I posted.

Pontiac had the right idea though after the 2nd oil crisis even if Pontiac was mandated by GM to downsize and to go FWD...

Image result for 1981 turbo trans am

Image result for pontiac sunbird turbo

Related image

 

Related image

All turbos. To keep the excitement alive.

But this:

Image result for fiero gt

Should have been built the way Pontiac engineers wanted it to be built. That set Pontiac quite a few steps back...

Rad DOHC 24 valve V6s to compete with Eurosnobs and Japanese worshippers?  Pontiac had that...and they wanted to put it into the Fiero...but GM insisted niot to do anything with it because...expensive...and instead, waited to put nto the W-Body 5 years later...5 years too late. The road to death has begun...

Rad DOHC 24 valve 4 bangers to compete with Eurosnobs and Japanese worshippers? Pontiac with Oldsmobile had that too...GM mismanaged the reliability on those...the road to death has been slightly accelerated... 

I dont lament the Pontiac V8s or RWD going away from Pontiac. Because Pontiac had the right ideas going forward. GM hampered their execution that  made Pontiac have a very slow and agonizing death. 

 

Edited by oldshurst442
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Posted (edited)

Well it was a new set-up IIRC that was engineered for the 1973 model year LeMans, Grand Am, GTO, Grand Prix and Firebird, but due to poor management in place at the time, was only released on the Firebird late in the year, and it was a beast for the time, being the low compression/emissions strangulation period.

Edited by ocnblu

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^ It was a continuation of the HO hardware, last previously seen in '71, IIRC. Round port heads. It really wasn't anything new, but it was definitely 'against the wind' for 1973-74. I've heard it was also intended for the GA (announced in print) but strangely not for the GTO. I believe it was the fastest car available that year, rated at 290 HP (it was going to be 310) vs. the 454CI Corvette's 275.

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Pontiac and Olds are alike in a way, beyond the fact that GM shelved both of them.

Olds had come further along in shedding the image of the dowdy ad campaign "not your father's Oldsmobile," which probably hurt the brand. The Aurora and the Intrigue helped the brand, but it was too late.

Pontiac had to keep moving away from the "Smokey and the Bandit" redneck association.  The pendulum needed to swing further and further away from that.  What also hurt it is that it had to duplicate just about every car that Chevrolet produced, except for the Corvette and the trucks.

I believe that Pontiac needed to stay on as a niche or boutique brand for GM.  It seems like there currently is a big gaping hole between Chevrolet and Buick.  I would have capped it off at three models, or maybe even two.  These models could not duplicate other platforms.  Pontiac would have had its work cut out for it but it could have been possible. 

We had one in the family at one time but it's the one brand of GM cars aimed at the middle market I've sadly never had the chance to personally own.

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Ideally Pontiac could have just been three RWD cars (just like Bob Lutz wanted) and that's it.  That would especially complement a typical Buick-GMC dealership, given that a typical lot is full of CUVs and SUVs these days.  Price them right and Pontiac could thrive again.

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I've owned 8 Pontiacs, all between the inclusive years of 1960-1966. Probably stated that a few times before, but I like hearing myself say it. Great cars in the '60s, much better than #1/2 Chevy/Ford.

I agree that a niche/specialty brand Pontiac could've worked. It still can. 

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On 4/30/2019 at 9:18 PM, oldshurst442 said:

I think going to G6 and G8 was not a good idea, but by then, Pontiac was already done for. 

The Firebird/Trans Am needed to be re-invented. 

Yes. No. Yes.

The G6 was just plain bad.

The G8, in my mind, was a winner.  It looked better than most BMW 3 series cars.  It was cleaner looking, as in "less is more."  Its base price was also attractive.  I just think that anyone who cared what others thought and was going to buy a sports sedan was going to buy a foreign one.  That was the problem.  For anyone who has sat in a brand new G8 (or Chevy SS sedan), the new car smell, and vibe, is like that of a foreign (German) car.  It did not even smell like a domestic car!  Because it's wasn't.

The Firebird should have stayed on but, without duplicating the Camaro, it may have not been cost justified on an entirely different and unique platform.  I don't have any answers but I've always preferred the Firebird to the Camaro.

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