Pontiac Pushes Forward with G8 'Ute Despite Tough Times

October 27, 2008
The continued production plans for the kinda-odd, kinda-cool Pontiac Amino pictured to the left is a surprising bit of verve from GM given its cost-slashing, factory-closing spasms of late. Yes, the G8 ST (sport truck) is still planned for 2010, and it shares a platform (with a wheelbase stretched four inches) with the low-buck, high-thrill G8 sedan. That sedan itself is based on a platform from GM's Australian division, Holden.

We scratched our heads recently at Pontiac's mission in GM's portfolio, and in the automotive world in general, especially now that it's confirmed the division's hi-po rear-wheel-drive cars are slowly dying off. The brand has fumbled and bumbled through the past three decades trying to hit its stride. It is occasionally brilliant (GTO, 6000 STE, Firebird Formula), and just as often horribly inept (T1000, Daewoo-based LeMans, anything ever named Grand Am, TransSport, Safari Wagon). Is the G8 ST still a wise investment of precious capital for GM (who could, for instance, use the money to push up the launch of the next Malibu) and, more pointedly, for Pontiac, whose stable of true performance cars (G8, Solstice) is getting rather thin these days?

While GM is in the midst of massive cost-cutting, we wonder why the G8 ST seems such a sacred cow. When profits margins soared and dealers were happy, GM could well afford to launch niche vehicles such as the GMC Cyclone and Typhoon that it knew would never sell in high volumes. While we could be wrong about market demand for a Pontiac revival of the El Camino (hey, the Aussies live and die by the 'Ute), we have the feeling this is going to be another one of GM's weird vehicular experiments along the lines of the GMC Envoy XUV. And as my boss elegantly points out, "history hasn't been kind to car/truck miscegeny."--Colin Mathews

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