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The 5 Cars That Killed Pontiac

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2009 Pontiac G8

2009 Pontiac G8

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So, Pontiac is dead. GM pulled the plug this morning and vehicles will stop hitting showrooms by 2010.

It's no mystery why it failed. Pontiac's struggled for an image since it transformed itself from a Grandma car in the 1950s to an enthusiast's dream in the Sixties with the introduction of the GTO. From then on, it lost its way as GM tried to graft on mass-market cars around the likes of the GTO, the Firebird, the Fiero and the Solstice. Adding trucks and minivans didn't work; neither did a last-ditch attempt to turn Pontiac into a Scion clone.

GM tried in vain to make Pontiac relevant, and in truth, it might have been on the cusp of greatness with the 2009 G8 sedan. But for every great performance vehicle--G8 or GTO or Solstice--there were unforgivable concessions to dealers like these five vehicles that eventually killed Pontiac:

2002 Pontiac Aztek

2002 Pontiac Aztek

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Pontiac Aztek: Take a minivan, wrap it in ungainly sheetmetal meant to turn it into a sporty crossover and give it a funky-spelling name. The Aztek was a disaster from the get-go, though some GM generals were adamant that the Aztek was at least as good as the Honda Element. In its best year, the Aztek moved about 20,000 copies and dented the brand even more than the Cavalier-based Sunfire, which in retrospect was one of Pontiac's recent successes.

2004 Pontiac Montana 4dr Reg WB exterior front upper left

2004 Pontiac Montana 4dr Reg WB exterior front upper left

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Pontiac Montana SV6/TranSport: Here's the platform that spawned the Aztek. The notion of a more sporty minivan was pretty questionable: Chrysler never did one for Dodge, but GM plowed ahead with the TranSport, the original space-shuttle-style minivan clad with plastic body parts. Over the years, GM's Doraville plant cranked out succeeding versions that either got Western-themed names like Montana, or alphanumerics like SV6, or both, finally caving into real sheetmetal when the minivan world had moved on to Toyota's Sienna and Honda's Odyssey. From soup to nuts, the idea was less than half-baked, and families turned elsewhere in droves.

2009 Pontiac G3

2009 Pontiac G3

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Pontiac G3: Near the end, GM decided that a rebadged Chevrolet Aveo five-door would be the ideal sop to dealers, who saw Pontiac sales shear in half in the 2000s. Canada got it first--but GM didn't get that the G3 wasn't going to spark a Scion-style party in Pontiac's U.S. showrooms. The arrival of the G3 sounded like the thud a heart-attack victim makes when they hit the floor.

2009 Pontiac Torrent

2009 Pontiac Torrent

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Pontiac Torrent: Maybe the most acceptable of the misguided Pontiac efforts at fielding a family vehicle, the Torrent was based on the roomy Chevrolet Equinox and offered a potent V-6 option for the 2009 model year. The problem? The Equinox itself was in need of replacement. It gets replaced for 2010, but the Torrent will be trapped in time as the brand's last-ditch effort to generate sales volume.

2010 Pontiac G8 ST

2010 Pontiac G8 ST

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Pontiac G8 ST: The Pontiac G8 sedan--especially in GXP form--is one of the best rear-drive sedans you can buy. Making it into a "ute" pickup might work for Australia, but for America? A Pontiac pickup? Really? Our dubious pen was working overtime when GM confirmed it last year at the Chicago auto show, and was unsurprised when it was axed earlier this year. You might be able to drive one down under, but the ST checks in with history, never having sold a single copy.

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Comments (8)
  1. "Totally Disagree"

    These cars did not kill Pontiac. A changing customer base did. Baby boomers quit buying GTOs, Firebirds, and the like for mini van type vehicles. Long live the Chief!!
     
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  2. "The G8 ST looks interesting..."

    Honestly, I'd love an El Camino type car and that G8 ST looks like one. As long as it had a 6x4' bed, it would be a great option for me. I don't understand why Detroit doesn't come out with a pickup/car mix like the El Camino. So many people want the utility of a truck but the gas mileage of a car.
    The Aztek was the ugliest thing ever created by Detroit. Pontiac should be ashamed of it. Glad to see it ranked #1.
     
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  3. "ST to blame for the downfall?"

    Seriously while I agree with some of the cars on the list how can you blame something that was never made, was already developed for another market so was little extra engineering cost?
    How about a firebird that had the same mechanicals for nearly two decades? In the end it wasn't just the cars, it was GM management that just changed badge's not developed brands. I believe in the right hands Pontiac could be made viable but not in its current guise. End of Pontiac spells the end of Holden as well I would suggest.
    A GM Management that took one look at the Aztec and said yes we need this shows they know nothing about cars but then again they have lots of other proof of that.
    And don't blame the customers, it is managements fault it didn't have a vision for Pontiac or any brand other than Chevy.
    Kind of hope GM just dies
     
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  4. "Old mistakes"

    Pontiac is dying because GM quit making different cars for different people. When individual bodies, individual drive trains, etc. were melted into one glob of goo, people weren't stupid enough to buy the idea a Generic Motors car was "different" just because they said so.
     
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  5. "Mr."

    If spirits can weep, then the spirit of the one who made Pontiac a household name through the likes of the GTO, is weeping or possibly just frowning over what the "suits" at GM have done to this storied brand. What spirit? John Zachary DeLorean, of course.
     
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  6. Saying the ST would of killed Pontiac is absolutely ridiculous. Ive been to Australia and have see the UTE drive by and it is more than amazing. I really think the ST would of made a Huge difference. And Reece was right, blame management not buyers.
     
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  7. Im still wondering what caused the demise of the Studebaker and deSoto
     
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  8. Maybe the Studebaker and Desoto had meddling communist presidents too.
     
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