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Dave@Moon

Yesterday was a sad day.....

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Yes it's sad, Pontiac built some pretty terrific cars over the years. But reality is reality.

GM is fighting for its very survival.

Maybe the next new car should be called the Oakland.

Rog

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I thought Pontiac was one of the biggest selling cars they had? I know here in Canada Pontiac outsold Chev some years, and always finishes in the money.

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Dave,

Sad note indeed.....thanks for pointing it out.

This is what happens when a CAR company stops being run by CAR guys and is run by the same bean counters in corporate offices and bureaucrats in Washington that sell toasters and other widgets that are only numbers on a page that are expected to produce a certain amount of profit without any support or innovation.

Joe

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I was stunned how this was pretty much a non-story in the mainstream media (and by that I mean outside of Detroit). Sad day indeed.

For years, I have always loved the '62 Tempest LeMans with V8 (only 1% of production, the V8!), and especially the 1965 Bonneville Sport Coupe with bucket seats and console...best instrument panel ever put in a domestic automobile IMHO. Come to think of it, I think they had a full-size line that was unbeatable for style and model choice, from '65 right up to '69 or so. And the '69 Grand Prix? Gorgeous. I also like the '71 and '72 Grand Ville as much as any other big GM of the same time period...in fact better than many.

Bill

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All the more reason to keep those older Ponchos on the roads.

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Sad indeed. II had a couple of Pontiacs, I liked the features for the dollar of a Pontiac vs other brands, unfortunately the 1980s morass of Roger Smith's GM erased that difference, few of their offerings after that stood apart from other GM cars made from the same core.

I still want a 1966 Bonneville, a man's car if there ever was one.

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Reason is easy to a bean counter and was the same reason Olds got axed - number of models. Chev and Cad are sacrosanct and Buick only had four models.

Considering all of the lines they dropped (Riviera, Skylark, Century,...) in the last few years, maybe they saw the handwriting.

Have to admit that both Ford and Chrysler did well on three car lines. Who knows, Pontiac may be back (GM refused to sell the nameplate to Penske).

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Considering all the great cars they made over the years, it is indeed sad that this did not make the news outside of Detroit.

I still think this was an incredibly stupid move by GM. They are throwing away close to half a million sales a year. Plus Pontiac had a full model line up and younger buyers. Neither of which Buick has.

They just assume that people will now buy a Chevy or Buick instead. Many will buy a Honda, Toyota, Nissan or even Ford or Chrysler instead. It just doesn't seem to sink into their thick heads that even loyal GM buyers do not have to buy a GM if they are not offering what the buyer wants. The economy is not going to be bad forever, and I think GM will be left with a big hole in its line up when the economy recovers. A hole that foreign manufacturers will be very happy to fill.

I always wished that marques like Packard, Pierce Arrow, Duesenberg, etc. would have made it into the 1970's. I think they would have made some very cool cars. On the other hand, I wonder if it really matters if Pontiac and many other makes go under. All their cool cars seem to have been in the past, not the future. The new GTO was a huge disappointment compared to the Camaro and Challenger. And I think that once those two are gone, we will not see cars like that again. It seems that the future holds not the wild and radical concept cars we saw in the 1950's and '60's or even 1990's. But instead the bad science fiction movie where everyone is driving identical little egg pods. So does it really matter what badge is on them if they are all the same?

Edited by LINC400 (see edit history)

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Mr. Pushbutton, I too like the '66 Bonneville...they finally removed that large Bonneville emblem, whatever it was, from the car. But I liked the '65's round center gauges and woodgrain on the right side of the dash instead of that clear trim panel, enough to put up with that big exterior emblem of the '65!

Bill

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Given my love of Pontiacs and automotive history I have long been in awe of the genius of the Sloanist "price ladder" of makes and how well it worked. The system should never have been allowed to slip the way that it did and now we are seeing the fallout to the detriment of all, GM, dealers, suppliers, and the car buying public too.

I would contend that the five divisions were an advantage to GM and sustainable until (a) the models became of insufficently appealing design and sales slipped and (B) GM shrank itself and it's workforce to the point to where it indeed could not efficiently sustain the lineup because there were not enough people to do it.

I ask myself why the five divisions worked so well for so long and can only conclude that it was because people really do want to have a choice to upgrade over the basic car. As a fledgeling Pontiac guy in the 1970s and 1980s I saw the value of a Buick/Olds/Pontiac over a Chevy. Yes, most shared engines and mechanicals by that time, but I will not debate that. The trim and interior was enough of an upgrade for me, as it was for the millions of Cutlass and Regal buyers of the day. But the problem is that the upgrade must be sufficently appealing to make the buyer want to spend the money--to see the value. The grand example of that philosophy now? Toyota and Lexus. Everybody knows a Lexus is just a fancy Toyota, even the buyers, but they built the brand and buyers happily spend the extra money for the upgrade.

But it is all academic now, Pontiac is gone and so is Olds. Desperate GM managers want to emulate Toyota with their two brands and limited metro area dealer network, not realizing that GMs system set the stage and did it better for seventy years. Chevys have less market appeal than ever and so do Buicks. The Camaro is nice, but will not sell enough to be the core product. Cadillacs do OK, but they will still attract few people under 40. Twentysomethings are ready for an alternative domestic and Pontiac should have been so positioned, and the benefit of Pontiac doing that would have far outweighed the savings of eliminating the brand.

It is the sad end of an era for GM. They have spun off all their vertical integration to save on labor, they have merged all the divisions into one system. They have shrunk into a shadow of their former self and gutted the resources they need. As Fritz Henderson himself said this year, in the auto world it is much better to play offense rather than defense, and I do not think GM has the energy to be on the offense again. A giant waste of heritage and brand equity, they have little to offer me now. I wish them the best and say good luck. They need it, Todd C

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I totally agree with all of the above.

I also find it very interesting that when the demise of Pontiac is mentioned, everyone (even the media) mourns the loss by mentioning the great cars they built in the 1960's. No one mentions anything built within the last 20 years. I have seen one or two odd mentions of the Solstice, but that is it. Sad that they apparently haven't built anything worth mentioning in 30 or 40 years.

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Linc400, your word of agreement is great, thank you. And sadly, I agree your comment is too true, the last 20-30 years were lacking in iconic Pontiacs. I am not saying we lacked GOOD Pontiacs, but we lack icons.

My most recent Pontiac is a 1979 Trans Am, last of the 6.6 Litres. This is the car I always wanted as a teenager (well, a 1978 actually but close enough) and buying it was the realization of a childhood dream. My car has TTops, shaker hood and the giant bird decal, all of which I love and so does the public, I cannot go anywhere without seeing that this car was the dream of others too. And an attainable one; a car that was only average cost and used regular production mechanicals. This is what the big three used to do, inspire little automotive dreams and make them attainable. GM sold over 200,000 1979 Firebirds and over 250,000 Camaros, running two plants to build them, and we can presume that they were hugely profitable, all unimaginable today.

And the dream diminished thereafter, to our loss. Firebirds were allowed to die and had there been a Firebird version of the new Camaro it could have revitalized the whole division. GM said it would have cost $200 million to market one so they declined, chump change compared to the good it could have done IF properly handled (which would have been doubtful, I guess). The revived GTO was a great car (really!), but so bland and corporate looking that only a few got excited (although I think this car will become a cult classic). They just sucked the life out of Pontiacs and it is a shame since I still think the nameplate could have been brought back and still carried some residual "We Build Excitement". Thanks for reading, Todd C

PS--I could not find it on line, but in the new Automobile Magazine their writer Jamie Kitman has a very good column on this "building dreams" topic.

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Well it has been a long time coming. I still can't believe they got it all right and people were clamoring for the cars they were building and were getting raves from the press and they kill it. I own a gray 84 Trans Am which was one of 7,051 built with the L69 305 HO backed with the 5 speed. Also have WS6, T-tops and several interesting pieces in the car including a factory subwoofer (not functional for the time being). My brother has a 86 Fiero GT (I drove it twice and it was frankly the crappiest shifter I've ever used) that has a Supercharged 3800 Series II motor in it backed by a four speed Muncie. My dad owned a white 77 Firebird with a 301 and a Four on the floor, that was followed by a blue 78 Esprit Firebird with a 305 and an auto. The 77 and 78 had a 79 10th anniversary TA leather interior in it. (was in the 77 while that was being turned into a TA clone, after it was wrecked it was put into the 78). I suspect that the 78 might still be around.

The 84 Trans Am I have was owned by Dad prior to his death, while the original HO motor blew I still have the block and installed an 87 305 in its place for the time being. Even with the caprice 305, and TA's exhaust and carb, computer etc, it is still the fastest and best handling car I've ever driven. We have an Mk I MR2 too and the TA out handles that. The Trans Am is staying with me and will eventually be restored to its original L69 HO glory.

Amazing how things change so quickly.

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I totally agree with all of the above.

I also find it very interesting that when the demise of Pontiac is mentioned, everyone (even the media) mourns the loss by mentioning the great cars they built in the 1960's. No one mentions anything built within the last 20 years. I have seen one or two odd mentions of the Solstice, but that is it. Sad that they apparently haven't built anything worth mentioning in 30 or 40 years.

As an 80s kid I beg to differ. The 89 Turbo Trans Am is right near the top of my want list right among some Ferraris. (Pick up any magazine from that era and you will see that Chevy was probably kicking themselves as that car out ran their vernated Corvette) The 73 and 74 SD 455 Trans Ams and Firebirds were the last of the true muscle cars, and had the handling to go with the straight line speed. The W72 Trans Ams out ran the late 70s Corvettes. And any movie fan will tell you that black and gold Trans Ams are on their lists. The Solstice was a great car and great idea. As well as the G8 especially in GXP guise. So there are cars out there that were built that are more than worth mentioning that were built in the time frame you mention. More than one can say about Chrysler....no the Viper doesn't count (thats a Dodge anyway) and the Prowler was garbage.

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As an 80s kid I beg to differ. The 89 Turbo Trans Am is right near the top of my want list...

So there are cars out there that were built that are more than worth mentioning that were built in the time frame you mention. More than one can say about Chrysler....no the Viper doesn't count (thats a Dodge anyway) and the Prowler was garbage.

Take a look at any post on this forum about the demise of Pontiac. Then take a look on the internet for the same. They all mourn the loss of Pontiac by mentioning the cars of the 1960's and some mentions of 1970's Trans Ams. The T/A on your wish list is even 20 years old. I'm not saying they didn't build anything good in the last 20 years, just apparently nothing iconic or memorable. The Trans Am carried on from the wave created by the 1970's T/A's. Unfortunately they never were as popular again as they were in the 1970's.

Chrysler on the other hand has made iconic cars with the 300 and PT Cruiser. I am not a fan of either car, but look at how many buyers they attracted that would not have even looked at a Chrysler before those 2 cars were offered. In an era where everyone copies everyone else, those are 2 cars that look like nothing else on the road (except for the obvious Chevy HHR copy). Look at all the companies that make aftermarket bling for those cars. Pontiac did not have anything in the last 20 years that stirred up that much excitement in spite of their catchphrase.

The new GTO was a big disappointment. The performance was there. But I still have to look twice when I see one on the road to see that it is not a G5, Sunfire, or Cavalier. Plus the iconic American muscle car was built from an Australian Holden. They didn't even have the hood scoop until enough consumers complained. It should have been a unique retro design like the new Camaro or Challenger.

Also I think it would have been a mistake to offer a Firebird based on the new Camaro. Even though they shared bodies in the past, it would have just been seen as a "me too" car that would have cheapened the image of both now. They should have done their own retro '70's design.

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Well, Linc400, I said that a new Firebird should have been built and it could have revitalized the whole division, but then I added that it would have to have been properly handled. I stand by that but the "properly handled" is certainly the operative issue and I think we agree that would have been the $200 million dollar question. Maybe you are right and it is merciful that they did not try, as the effort would likely have been halfhearted.

To 84TransAm, your comments on the 89 Turbo are correct, of course, the performance was staggering and the styling was top notch. But I guess they were/are so uncommonly seen that they never had enough public awareness to become an icon. Enjoy your 84, Todd C

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I think it was inevitable...

How many different ways can you disguise a Chevy ?

For how long ?

GM is becoming a victim of its own "badge engineering"...

For those Pontiac guys that are in mourning, come on over to the "Orphan Car" side... we'll make room for you, right between Plymouth, Olds, and De Soto - all once-worthy marques.

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The REALLY sad truth here is that there is nothing Ford has done to revitalize their brand, in terms of both sales and consumer satisfaction ratings, that GM couldn't have duplicated for Pontiac.

The last Pontiac G8 GXP, while it has one of the most ridiculous names since the "me, too" wave caught on at GM to copy any Euro-trash name for a Pontiac, is a fantastic car! And, if they could have made a new Firebird, along with bringing some of the innovation of the high-end G8s into a more Taurus-like mainstream Pontiac, they would have had the right formula for success. People would come into the showrooms to see the Firebird, but leave the dealership driving a more mainstream Pontiac car.

So, why drop nearly 500,000 units per year from GM's annual sales? Look to 1600 Pennsylvania avenue and take your pic of the unelected czars driving the car business these days......

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Yes, yes Reatta Man, I agree and as you said the G8 was VERY well liked by the car magazines and the buyers. And apparently you also appreciate the idea of the "halo" car getting people into the showrooms and rubbing off on the regular line. I have been saying that Ford was smart to engineer a new SHO and I know it's presence is glamorizing and selling the baseline models.

Thanks for the invite Frank, I guess we are indeed now orphans too.

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Sad for sure, had many Trans am's and older convert's plus others really thought they had it going?

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