Monday, May 4, 2009

Guv'mint Motors Plucks Pontiac Permanently

As I noted previously, the federal government is in the process of taking over General Motors (GM) which announced last week that their Pontiac Division was going to join long defunct (and all but forgotten) Oldsmobile on the ash heap of automotive history.

This is an unfortunate development because, as a car enthusiast, I have always considered Pontiac to be among the more interesting of the GM brands, if not mechanically, at least visually.

People who bought Pontiacs were willing to shell out a few more bucks to get something a little more visually interesting than a slightly down-market Chevrolet. It didn't really matter that most of the mechanicals were the same as could be found in the Chevy version of the same car, it was just that the Pontiac was a little sportier to the eye. It had a little more style.

Of course, there were some Pontiac models that did stand apart form their GM counterparts. Who can forget the pavement-wrinkling GTO's and the early Firebird Trans-Ams?

How many of us who came of age in the '70's and, after seeing Smokey and the Bandit for the first time, secretly wished we could have a black T/A just like the Bandit drove, and that we could give 'ol Buford T. Justice fits as we raced from Georgia to Texas and back, on what was essentially a really long beer run, just because a big fat guy in a funny suit with a wad of cash was thirsty?

C'mon, you know you did it, too.

I recently got to spend some quality wheel time in a fully loaded Pontiac G8, and thought it to be a very well-rounded, buttoned-down machine. Too bad the American public didn't see it that way.

I didn't flinch when Oldsmobile disappeared from the scene, but something about Pontiac being no more is not a little sad.

Somehow, unlike the GTO, I just don't see an American rock band doing a song about some dorky government-designed transportation appliance that nobody is going to want to be seen in, much less buy.

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When liberty is taken away by force it can be restored by force. When it is relinquished voluntarily by default it can never be recovered. -Dorothy Thompson