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Here’s how the Pontiac Grand Prix transitioned from luxury to performance


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On 2/12/2022 at 1:44 PM, oldshurst442 said:

No!  Not quite the same McLaren as the one that does F1 racing and maker of bland but fast supercars...

Almost the same McLaren, but still NOT quite THAT McLaren...

In the 80s-90s the street car side of McLaren Group seemed to be doing a lot of engineering ventures that resulted in their name being used by other automakers...McLaren Capri, McLaren Mustang, then the McLaren Grand Prix... probably more I've forgotten..the racing side/team had massive success in F1 in the 80s and 90s (my favorite team and drivers and my favorite era of the sport), leading to their first street car and the ultimate supercar of the day, the F1.  

Then some quiet years when they did some street cars with Mercedes, and the street car side was reborn as a Ferrari/Lambo competitor with very fast, very complex but bland (and in some examples--violently ugly) supercars and hypercars since then..

Edited by Robert Hall
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I guess I never noticed as I never thought of Pontiac as a luxury brand. Even performance is stretching it IMHO.

I honestly cannot think of a single pontiac product that was luxury or performance compared to Olds, Chevy and others.

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11 minutes ago, David said:

I guess I never noticed as I never thought of Pontiac as a luxury brand. Even performance is stretching it IMHO.

I honestly cannot think of a single pontiac product that was luxury or performance compared to Olds, Chevy and others.

That was all before our time...Boomer era... Pontiac was upmarket relative to Chevy, though... thinking of the image of the brand in the olden days.  The early 60s it was known for what we would today call premium or near luxury..then by the mid 60s with the GTO definitely had a strong performance image, and the Grand Prix was a personal luxury coupe--similar niche to what Olds and Buick would be strong in, among others.   And they were certainly known for performance in the 70s with the GTO, Trans Am, Firebird Formula, etc.

Edited by Robert Hall
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8 minutes ago, Robert Hall said:

It was upmarket relative to Chevy, though... thinking of the image of the brand in the olden days.  The early 60s it was known for what we would call premium or near luxury..then by the mid 60s with the GTO definitely had a strong performance image, and the Grand Prix was a personal luxury coupe--similar niche to what Olds and Buick would be strong in, among others.   And they were certainly known for performance in the 70s with the GTO, Trans Am, Firebird Formula, etc.

WOW, Talk about a total brain fart on myside, zoned about the GTO which I like, was never a Trans Am or Firebird person. I get what you are meaning though. 

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1 hour ago, Robert Hall said:

The early 60s it was known for what we would today call premium or near luxury..then by the mid 60s with the GTO definitely had a strong performance image...

No- Pontiac WAS premium but was not perceived as being 'premium/near luxury'. The Arrowhead Division sat below both Olds & Buick.

And their performance cred started in the late '50s - the GTO was merely the most 'visible' example. Pontiac was huge in track & drag racing, in timed performance trials, starting really in '56. They had Tri-Power & FI starting in '57 & thick-walled 'NASCAR' blocks by '58. The Super Duty program started up in '60 and was annihilating competition out of no where. Pontiac pulled off perhaps the quickest image turn-around in history- about 4 years' time. All before the GTO showed up.

Pontiac's image didn't turn to 'mainstream premium' overall until the '70s as the GTO was laid to rest. Yes; the F-Bodied carried the flag well, but this is still the era when the LeMans got a 'Luxury LeMans' badge and fender skirts.

Pontiac did an unparalleled job when it was autonomous... but Corporate overlording diminished everything.

Edited by balthazar
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2 hours ago, Robert Hall said:

In the 80s-90s the street car side of McLaren Group seemed to be doing a lot of engineering ventures that resulted in their name being used by other automakers...McLaren Capri, McLaren Mustang, then the McLaren Grand Prix... probably more I've forgotten..the racing side/team had massive success in F1 in the 80s and 90s (my favorite team and drivers and my favorite era of the sport), leading to their first street car and the ultimate supercar of the day, the F1.  

Then some quiet years when they did some street cars with Mercedes, and the street car side was reborn as a Ferrari/Lambo competitor with very fast, very complex but bland (and in some examples--violently ugly) supercars and hypercars since then..

Like I said.   Not quite the Formula One Racing McLaren that builds its own supercars and collaborated with Mercedes.

Its a long and confusing story.

A very short but to the point explanation. 

ASC (American Specialty Cars and/or American Sunroof Company) is the company  that was partnered with a sub-division of (that) McLaren to do the Capri, Mustang, Buick GNX and Pontiac Grand Prix Turbo.   But the sub-division of (that) McLaren had no ties to the racing world of McLaren.  The racing world of McLaren is tied to the supercars it builds for itself and the one it did with Mercedes. 

ASC being a convertible top maker for several OEMs.   Porsche 944/968, BMW Z3/Z4, several GMs and others.  They did the engineering for the electric roof of the Chevy SSR.  

 

https://www.hagerty.com/media/automotive-history/asc-left-a-legacy-way-beyond-chopping-tops/

 

Quote

McLaren Engines was started by Bruce McLaren in Michigan, in 1969. In those days, it was a specialist engine development team set up to support Indy and Cam-Am racing, with the F1 efforts based in the U.K. By the mid-1980s, McLaren’s racing enterprise had largely moved across the Atlantic, but the Michigan-based outfit still did development work. ASC bought them up as a potential powertrain division, at first using the name when creating the ASC/McLaren Mercury Capris and Ford Mustangs.

 

Edited by oldshurst442
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