August 10, 2020
If you feel like you've seen just about every Pontiac model, we've got one that you might have missed. That model is the Sunburst, and it's by no means the easiest Pontiac model from the 1980s to find today.
Just where did this burst of sun come from?
Originally it came from Japan of course, but the Pontiac version was offered only in Canada even though the U.S. and Canada received this car under several other different badges. And it hails from a curious time for Pontiac in North America, one during which it was desperate to field small cars but didn't actually want to design any from scratch.
This is how the Isuzu Gemini, styled by Giorgetto Giugiaro, came to be offered by GM in the U.S. and Canada in the mid 1980s. The Gemini underneath offered a sharp design and clever engineering as well as excellent ergonomics, and in hindsight was far enough ahead of its time to appear more modern than a lot of Pontiac's own designs from the following decade. The sedan and hatch duo paired a front-wheel drive layout with inline-four engines ranging in size from 1.3 to 1.5 liters, offering excellent fuel economy for the time in addition to tidy road manners. Thanks to Isuzu's deal with General Motors, the model filled an important gap that until that time had been filled by the very aged Chevette, at least until the arrival of the Pontiac Le Mans.