After 83 years, General Motors announced today that they were going to shut down the Pontiac brand by 2010 in order to get their money right. Even though we saw this coming, it still saddens us. Sure, they were going through a rough patch for a couple... decades, but they finally seemed to be getting their minds in the right place. Instead of giving us new Sunfires and Azteks, they were starting import cars from GM's Holden brand that were actually fun to drive. Which is exactly what they were created to do: be GM's performance brand.
But with the General hedging all his bets on the Volt and Washington forcing them to trim the fat or declare bankruptcy, they had little choice (we're not sure how Buick survived, but whatever). So, in remembrance of the failed brand, we're pouring a little liquor out and reminiscing about their best cars...
#5: 1988 FIERO
• You know those girls who are real pretty but are terrible in bed? That was the Fiero. When it launched in '84, it was as stylish as any Euro offering, but take it around a track and you felt like you were riding shotgun with Sean Kingston. Pontiac changed all that with the 1988 model when they upgraded the suspension and also gave the four-cylinder and V6 engines a complete make-over. Too bad that was the last year of production.
#4: 1978 TRANS AM FIREBIRD
• If we were to ask you to say the first word that came into your head when you looked at the picture above, you'd probably blurt out "redneck". And while we wouldn't take points off or call you culturally insensitive, we would recommend you read up on this car and then maybe change your answer to: "Rebirth." After years of de-tuning the Firebird, Pontiac said eff it and updated the 400 engine, upping the performance by 10%. The next year Pontiac sold a record 116,535 Firebirds.
#3: 1968 PONTIAC GTO JUDGE
• What do you do when you're no longer the only muscle car maker in the land? You take your best chassis and best V8 and remix it. And with the Judges' bright paint jobs, "The Judge" graphics and new tail, they did just that.
#2: 2008 G8
• If only the G8 had come years earlier, say, around 2001 when they introduced the ugliest compilation of sheet metal to ever leave Detroit: the Pontiac Aztek. And if only they had re-realized back then that their heritage lied in rear wheel drive performance and not family cars that looked as if they were the afterbirth of Optimus Prime's baby's mother. Although based on the Holden (GM's Australia nameplate) VE Commodore, with the ability to get it with the 415hp LS3 V8 engine and looks that didn't brag about its power, the G8 subtly let passerby's know they couldn't fuck with it . Not to mention it was a dream to drive. Responsive, agile, grippy. But after only two years (barely) in production, it does seem like it was all dream.
#1: 1964 GTO
• The engineers at Pontiac knew the big-engine loving, lead-footed kids were the future. Therefore a team headed by chief engineer John De Lorean (yeah, the guy that made the "Back to the Future" car) decided to take the Pontiac Tempest, make it rear wheel drive, throw their biggest V8 into it and make it a hot rod you could buy straight off the showroom floor. And thus the era of the "muscle car" was born. Thank you, Pontiac.