The Official End Is Near; Pontiac, 84 Years Of Age; Dies Of Indifference Tomorrow

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Thread: The Official End Is Near; Pontiac, 84 Years Of Age; Dies Of Indifference Tomorrow

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    News Contributor Premium Member Perian's Avatar
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    The Official End Is Near; Pontiac, 84 Years Of Age; Dies Of Indifference Tomorrow

    Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/30/bu...gewanted=print



    Pontiac, 84, Dies of Indifference - By NICK BUNKLEY - New York Times

    DETROIT — Pontiac, the brand that invented the muscle car under its flamboyant engineer John Z. DeLorean, helped Burt Reynolds elude Sheriff Justice in “Smokey and the Bandit” and taught baby boomers to salivate over horsepower, but produced mostly forgettable cars for their children, will endure a lonely death on Sunday after about 40 million in sales.

    It was 84 years old. The cause of death was in dispute. Fans said Pontiac’s wounds were self-inflicted, while General Motors blamed a terminal illness contracted during last year’s bankruptcy. Pontiac built its last car nearly a year ago, but the official end was set for Oct. 31, when G.M.’s agreements with Pontiac dealers expire.

    The G.M. brand that was advertised for “driving excitement,” Pontiac brought Americans the Bonneville, GTO, Firebird and other venerable nameplates. Sportier than a Chevrolet but less uppity than an Oldsmobile or Buick, the best Pontiacs, recognizable by their split grille and red arrowhead emblem in the middle, were stylish yet affordable cars with big, macho engines.

    Its biggest triumph was the GTO, developed by Mr. DeLorean, the brand’s rebellious chief engineer, in violation of a G.M. policy dictating the maximum size of a car’s engine. The GTO was a hit, and the age of the muscle car had begun.

    “When the muscle-car era was in its heyday, Pontiac was king,” said Frederick Perrine, a dealer in Cranbury, N.J., whose family sold Pontiacs since the brand’s founding. “It put us through school. We were the house on the block that had the swimming pool growing up.”

    Pontiac, named for the Michigan city where the company started and an 18th-century Ottawa Indian chief, found itself on the wrong end of G.M.’s government-aided bankruptcy restructuring.

    “They had a lot of glory years, but from the ’70s on, Pontiac just couldn’t meet the bar,” Mr. Kummer said. “It was always living in the past.”

    For the most part, Pontiac’s final months generated no more excitement than its last few decades did. G.M. said dealers had fewer than 125 new Pontiacs in stock at the end of August, mostly heavily discounted G6’s, but only eight of them were reported sold in September.

    “You hate to see them go, but they were floundering and couldn’t find their place in the market,” said Tim Dye, who owns 21 Pontiacs from various eras and a huge collection of Pontiac memorabilia — started with a bottle of GTO cologne from his uncle — that he had assembled over more than 30 years.

    The Pontiac Motor Division was born at G.M. in 1926 as a single model under the Oakland brand, but its roots date to the 1890s, when horse-drawn carriage-making was a big industry in Pontiac, 25 miles northwest of Detroit. The Pontiac Spring and Wagon Works started building automobiles in 1907, before merging with the nearby Oakland Motor Car Company, which was then bought by G.M. in 1909.

    G.M.’s first Pontiac was an $825 model known as the “Chief of the Sixes” for its 6-cylinder engine. It sold so well that G.M. shut down Oakland to focus on Pontiacs.

    Pontiac became known as a conservative brand, building stodgy cars for grandmothers, until its general manager in the late 1950s, Semon Knudsen, sought a hipper image and much younger buyer. Mr. Knudsen, the son of a former G.M. president and a fan of auto racing, unveiled Pontiac’s “wide-track” design, which improved the cars’ handling by pushing the wheels five inches farther apart.

    Mr. Knudsen, known as Bunkie, said the change kept the wider-bodied 1959 Pontiacs from resembling “a football player wearing ballet slippers.” The style was distinctive, and Pontiac’s frequent wins on the racetrack in that era helped sales soar.

    No innovation did as much for Pontiac’s high-performance image as the GTO, whose glory days were from 1964 to 1974. The original GTO’s 389 cubic-inch engine was larger than G.M. allowed in a car of that size, but Pontiac executives got around that rule by offering it as an upgrade package to an existing model, the Tempest, and no one at the corporate level was aware of the option before it went into production and dealers began clamoring for more.

    “We got 5,000 of them out into the marketplace before we got around to telling the corporation what we were doing,” said Jim Wangers, a Pontiac ad executive who worked with Mr. DeLorean to create the GTO, short for Gran Turismo Omologato.

    Mr. Wangers, who was born the same year as Pontiac and never thought he would outlive it, recalls the time that the German luxury carmaker BMW sent a team of engineers, designers and marketers to meet with Mr. DeLorean’s team and study how the brand did so well.

    Gary Lee Jr., an owner of the dealership that sold Mr. Dieffenbach his Solstice this week, remembers the sadness of losing Oldsmobile when G.M. killed that brand in 2004. But with Pontiac, he has just been eager to move on. Signs for Pontiac at his dealership had long been removed, and he said, thankfully, he had no more new Pontiacs to unload.

    “It was a great line,” Mr. Lee said, “while it lasted.”

    Full article at link.

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    News Contributor Premium Member Perian's Avatar
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    Re: The Official End Is Near; Pontiac, 84 Years Of Age; Dies Of Indifference Tomorrow

    R.I.P. Pontiac.

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pG8TaZrJ74s&feature=&p=94E08107235929CF&in dex=0&playnext=1[/ame]

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    Re: The Official End Is Near; Pontiac, 84 Years Of Age; Dies Of Indifference Tomorrow

    Pontiac was the more orginal out of GM's subsidiaries but having a 1991 Grand Prix as my first car turned me off to the brand forever.

    Can't say I'm sad to see it go.

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    Re: The Official End Is Near; Pontiac, 84 Years Of Age; Dies Of Indifference Tomorrow

    ^^^ That 1987 commercial, LOL. Excitement means.......Sunbird?!

    The only regret I have with Pontiac leaving is that I feel with products like the G8 and Solstice, Pontiac had finally started creating some great performance vehicles again. Imagine what an Alpha-based midsizer could've done for the brand. And a new GTO.
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    De gustibus non est disputandum

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    Re: The Official End Is Near; Pontiac, 84 Years Of Age; Dies Of Indifference Tomorrow

    Quote Originally Posted by Perian View Post



    Mr. Wangers, who was born the same year as Pontiac and never thought he would outlive it, recalls the time that the German luxury carmaker BMW sent a team of engineers, designers and marketers to meet with Mr. DeLorean’s team and study how the brand did so well.
    Now that says something!

    I'm not that old, but I also never imagined I would outlive Pontiac.

    However, brands can be resurrected...

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    Re: The Official End Is Near; Pontiac, 84 Years Of Age; Dies Of Indifference Tomorrow

    Quote Originally Posted by flatblackstrat View Post
    but having a 1991 Grand Prix as my first car turned me off to the brand forever.
    Details?

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    5.3 Liter Vortec V8 flatblackstrat's Avatar
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    Re: The Official End Is Near; Pontiac, 84 Years Of Age; Dies Of Indifference Tomorrow

    Quote Originally Posted by Lowboy View Post
    Details?
    Wow so many. Car would shut off while driving, leaked oil constantly, overheating, car shook badly when in overdrive and engine under load so had to drive it in out of overdrive or 3rd, stalling, cd player stopped working.

    It was pretty much the worst car I ever owned.

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    Re: The Official End Is Near; Pontiac, 84 Years Of Age; Dies Of Indifference Tomorrow

    Quote Originally Posted by rhett_oracle View Post
    However, brands can be resurrected...
    I don't see it happening in this lifetime. In the end, Pontiac was a fish out of water. It was sort of competing with Dodge, sort of competing with minuscule Scion, it lacked the prestige and luxury to go after Audi and BMW, and it lacked the sportiness to go after Lotus. The closest thing it really competed with was Mazda, but it was still inherently different and a bit more mainstream. Despite the turnaround in the last couple years, the clone ages of the 80s and 90s where Pontiac was just a Chevy with racing stripes killed it.

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    Re: The Official End Is Near; Pontiac, 84 Years Of Age; Dies Of Indifference Tomorrow

    Pontiac's main problem was Chevrolet. They have competed for the same buyers since the mid Seventies. Pontiac did not stand for anything other than re-badged Chevys. The only unique products Pontiac had in the last 40 years where the Fiero, Aztec and G8. Is it any wonder when they finally pulled the plug most people didn't even notice?

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    Firebird Concept (the turbine one) Amphibian's Avatar
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    Re: The Official End Is Near; Pontiac, 84 Years Of Age; Dies Of Indifference Tomorrow

    Quote Originally Posted by The Other Guy View Post
    I don't see it happening in this lifetime. In the end, Pontiac was a fish out of water. It was sort of competing with Dodge, sort of competing with minuscule Scion, it lacked the prestige and luxury to go after Audi and BMW, and it lacked the sportiness to go after Lotus. The closest thing it really competed with was Mazda, but it was still inherently different and a bit more mainstream. Despite the turnaround in the last couple years, the clone ages of the 80s and 90s where Pontiac was just a Chevy with racing stripes killed it.
    And the problem was that even their so-called turnaround from the past few years wasn't particularly amazing. The G8 was nice of course, but the Solstice trailed the MX-5 in a number of ways (thought the 2.0T was available and was interesting). And ... that was about it. There was the LOLtastic G3, G5, and G6, the stupid Torrent, and that's it.

    We all knew deep down that Pontiac wasn't going exclusively RWD anyway. Anything Pontiac could do, Chevy could do. Build a niche sports car like the Solstice? Chevy can. Small cruck like the G8 ST? El Camino baby! Big RWD sedan like a modern day Bonneville? Impala/Caprice, here we come.

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    Re: The Official End Is Near; Pontiac, 84 Years Of Age; Dies Of Indifference Tomorrow

    Quote Originally Posted by flatblackstrat View Post
    Wow so many. Car would shut off while driving, leaked oil constantly, overheating, car shook badly when in overdrive and engine under load so had to drive it in out of overdrive or 3rd, stalling, cd player stopped working.

    It was pretty much the worst car I ever owned.
    Too bad you felt that way.
    Have owned several w-bodys over the years and other than the bland style of the early 90s GP they were pretty decent cars. They did have some common issues and you have hit on them, too bad you could get someone to fix them for you.

    -Car shutting off while driving, stalling and shuddering under load are most likely linked to the coil packs and ignition module possibly brought on by the failure of just 1 plug wire. Have seen bad crank sensors but those didn't cause a mis-fire.
    -Continuous oil leaks, many intake gaskets have been replaced for oil leaks only to keep leaking. This is from the oil pump drive housing leaking under the throttle body. When ever we did a intake we replaced the 0-ring AND installed a distributor gasket on the housing.
    -CD player, can't help ya there. Other than lots of factory radios fail over time.

    Was the car under warranty yet?

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    Re: The Official End Is Near; Pontiac, 84 Years Of Age; Dies Of Indifference Tomorrow

    Quote Originally Posted by Amphibian View Post
    ! Big RWD sedan like a modern day Bonneville? Impala/Caprice, here we come.
    Pontiac had a different style than chevy used to.
    The Bonnevilles of '92-99 were much better looking than the FWD Impala it competed against. But that changed with the '00 Bonneville/GP redesign that looked like a lump of clay thrown on the ground.
    The last gen Grand Am had much more character in the looks than the replacement G5(boring name) and sales reflected that.

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    Re: The Official End Is Near; Pontiac, 84 Years Of Age; Dies Of Indifference Tomorrow

    recalls the time that the German luxury carmaker BMW sent a team of engineers, designers and marketers to meet with Mr. DeLorean’s team and study how the brand did so well.
    Wow. Ignorance and arrogance rolled up into one post-war American package.
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    Re: The Official End Is Near; Pontiac, 84 Years Of Age; Dies Of Indifference Tomorrow

    Wasn't this announced 18 months ago? Wasn't the last Pontiac produced 11 months ago?

    I don't get why this is a story.

    Next week: Chrysler Corp. buys American Motors from Renault.
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    Re: The Official End Is Near; Pontiac, 84 Years Of Age; Dies Of Indifference Tomorrow

    Quote Originally Posted by Perian View Post
    That year was prob one of the last hot years for Pontiac. Its funny now but that commercial hit the right spot during the 80's. The Trans Am, Fiero, and Grand Am all were nice looking and fairly popular. 1988 saw the new Grand Prix launch.

    It wasnt too many years after this that things started going down hill
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