Pontiac
Overview
 
Pontiac was an automobile
Automobile
An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...

 brand that was established in 1926 as a companion make for General Motors
General Motors
General Motors Company , commonly known as GM, formerly incorporated as General Motors Corporation, is an American multinational automotive corporation headquartered in Detroit, Michigan and the world's second-largest automaker in 2010...

' Oakland. Quickly overtaking its parent in popularity, it supplanted the Oakland brand entirely by 1933 and, for most of its life, became a companion make for Chevrolet
Chevrolet
Chevrolet , also known as Chevy , is a brand of vehicle produced by General Motors Company . Founded by Louis Chevrolet and ousted GM founder William C. Durant on November 3, 1911, General Motors acquired Chevrolet in 1918...

. Pontiac was sold in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, and Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 by General Motors
General Motors
General Motors Company , commonly known as GM, formerly incorporated as General Motors Corporation, is an American multinational automotive corporation headquartered in Detroit, Michigan and the world's second-largest automaker in 2010...

 (GM). Pontiac was marketed as the performance division of General Motors for many years, specializing in mainstream performance vehicles.
Encyclopedia
Pontiac was an automobile
Automobile
An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...

 brand that was established in 1926 as a companion make for General Motors
General Motors
General Motors Company , commonly known as GM, formerly incorporated as General Motors Corporation, is an American multinational automotive corporation headquartered in Detroit, Michigan and the world's second-largest automaker in 2010...

' Oakland. Quickly overtaking its parent in popularity, it supplanted the Oakland brand entirely by 1933 and, for most of its life, became a companion make for Chevrolet
Chevrolet
Chevrolet , also known as Chevy , is a brand of vehicle produced by General Motors Company . Founded by Louis Chevrolet and ousted GM founder William C. Durant on November 3, 1911, General Motors acquired Chevrolet in 1918...

. Pontiac was sold in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, and Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 by General Motors
General Motors
General Motors Company , commonly known as GM, formerly incorporated as General Motors Corporation, is an American multinational automotive corporation headquartered in Detroit, Michigan and the world's second-largest automaker in 2010...

 (GM). Pontiac was marketed as the performance division of General Motors for many years, specializing in mainstream performance vehicles. Pontiac was relatively more popular in Canada, where for much of its history, it was marketed as a low-priced vehicle.

On April 27, 2009, amid ongoing financial problems and restructuring efforts, GM announced it would discontinue the Pontiac brand by the end of 2010 and focus on four core brands in North America: Chevrolet
Chevrolet
Chevrolet , also known as Chevy , is a brand of vehicle produced by General Motors Company . Founded by Louis Chevrolet and ousted GM founder William C. Durant on November 3, 1911, General Motors acquired Chevrolet in 1918...

, Cadillac
Cadillac
Cadillac is an American luxury vehicle marque owned by General Motors . Cadillac vehicles are sold in over 50 countries and territories, but mostly in North America. Cadillac is currently the second oldest American automobile manufacturer behind fellow GM marque Buick and is among the oldest...

, Buick
Buick
Buick is a premium brand of General Motors . Buick models are sold in the United States, Canada, Mexico, China, Taiwan, and Israel, with China being its largest market. Buick holds the distinction as the oldest active American make...

, and GMC. The last Pontiacs were built in late 2009, with the final dealer franchises expiring October 31, 2010.

Predecessor Firm, 1907-1908

The Pontiac Spring and Wagon Works was incorporated in July 1899 by Albert G. North and Harry G. Hamilton. By 1905 they had taken over the manufacturing of the Rapid Truck (from the Rapid Motor Vehicle Co.) that had been introduced two years earlier. In 1907 they decided to produce an automobile.

The first Pontiac automobile was introduced in 1902. It was a highwheeler weighing 1000 pounds (453.6 kg) and powered by a two-cylinder water-cooled 12 hp engine. The prototype was displayed in October 1907 at an exhibition sponsored by the Carriage Dealers' Association in New York City's Grand Central Palace. In December of the same year several of the new Pontiacs were exhibited at the Chicago Automobile Show. Well received by the press, the car featured final drive by double chain and a friction transmission. The wheelbase was 70 inches (1,778 mm), front wheels 38, with 40s in the rear, and solid tires all-around. The first deliveries were probably made in early 1908.

On Aug. 28, 1907, Edward M. Murphy incorporated the Oakland Motor Co. Murphy is said to have chosen the Oakland name for his automobile venture because the company was located in Oakland County, Michigan. Crosstown rival Pontiac Spring & Wagon Works already was making a high-wheel motor wagon under the Pontiac name. Both companies decided to merge together in November 1908 under the name of the Oakland Motor Car Company. The headquarters and manufacturing were in Pontiac, Michigan.

In January 1909, General Motors President William C. Durant
William C. Durant
William Crapo "Billy" Durant was a leading pioneer of the United States automobile industry, the founder of General Motors and Chevrolet who created the system of multi-brand holding companies with different lines of cars....

 purchased a 50% interest in the Oakland Motor Car Company. Later that year GM bought out the other 50% after the unexpected death of Edward M. Murphy at the age of 45.

While related to Oakland, this earlier use of the Pontiac name is not generally considered in the history of the later make.

1926–1942

The Pontiac brand was introduced by General Motors in 1926 as the companion marque
General Motors Companion Make Program
General Motors pioneered the idea that consumers would aspire to buy up an automotive product ladder if a company met certain price points. As General Motors entered the 1920s, the product ladder started with the price leading Chevrolet marque, and then progressed upward in price, power and...

 to GM's Oakland division. Within months of its introduction, Pontiac was outselling Oakland. As a result of Pontiac's rising sales, versus Oakland's declining sales, Pontiac became the only companion marque to survive its parent, with Oakland ceasing production in 1932.

Pontiac began by selling cars offering 40 hp (30 kW) 186.7 ci (3.1 liter) (3.25x3.75 in, 82.5x95mm) L-head straight 6-cylinder engines in the Pontiac Chief of 1927; its stroke was the shortest of any American car in the industry at the time. The Chief sold 39,000 units within six months of its appearance at the 1926 New York Auto Salon, hitting 76,742 at twelve months. The next year, it became the top-selling six in the U.S., ranking seventh in overall sales. By 1933, it had moved up to producing the least expensive cars available with straight eight-cylinder (inline eight) engines. This was done by using many components from the 6-cylinder Chevrolet, such as the body. In the late 1930s, Pontiac used the so-called torpedo
Torpedo (car)
The torpedo body style was a type of automobile body used from the early twentieth century until the mid-1930s, and which fell quickly into disuse by the Second World War....

 body of the Buick for one of its models, just prior to its being used by Chevrolet. This body style brought some attention to the marque. An unusual feature of the "torpedo" body exhibition car, was that with push of a button the front half of the car body would open showing the engine and the car's front seat interior. In 1937, the eight-cylinder had a 122 inch wheelbase, while the six-cylinder had a 117 inch wheelbase. On 2 February 1942 a Pontiac was the last civilian automobile manufactured in the United States during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, as all automobile factories converted to military production.

For an extended period of time—prewar through the early 1950s—the Pontiac was a quiet, solid car, but not especially powerful. It came with a flathead
Flathead engine
A flathead engine is an internal combustion engine with valves placed in the engine block beside the piston, instead of in the cylinder head, as in an overhead valve engine...

 (side-valve) straight eight. Straight 8s were slightly less expensive to produce than the increasingly popular V8s, but they were also heavier and longer. Additionally, the long crankshaft suffered from excessive flex, restricting straight 8s to a relatively low compression ratio with a modest redline. However, in this application, inexpensive (yet very quiet) flatheads were not a liability.

1946–1954

From 1946-1948, all Pontiac models were essentially 1942 models with minor changes. The Hydra-matic automatic transmission was introduced in 1948 and helped Pontiac sales grow even though their cars, Torpedoes and Streamliners, were quickly becoming out of date.

The first all-new Pontiac models appeared in 1949. Newly redesigned, they sported such styling cues as lower body lines and rear fenders that were integrated in the rear-end styling of the car.

Along with new styling came a new model. Continuing the Native American theme of Pontiac, the Chieftain
Pontiac Chieftain
The Pontiac Chieftain was an automobile produced by the Pontiac Motors Division of General Motors from 1949 to 1958. Chieftains were one of the first all new car designs to come to Pontiac in the post World War II years...

 line was introduced to replace the Torpedo. These were built on the GM B-Body platform and featured sportier styling than the more conservative Streamliner. In 1950, the Catalina
Pontiac Catalina
The Pontiac Catalina was part of Pontiac's full-sized automobile line. Initially, the name was used strictly to denote hardtop body styles, first appearing in the 1950 Chieftain Eight and DeLuxe Eight lines...

 pillarless hardtop
Hardtop
A hardtop is a term for a rigid, rather than canvas, automobile roof. It has been used in several contexts: detachable hardtops, retractable hardtop roofs, and the so-called pillarless hardtop body style....

 coupe was introduced as a "halo" model, much like the Chevrolet Bel Air
Chevrolet Bel Air
The Chevrolet Bel Air is a full-size automobile that was produced by the Chevrolet division of General Motors for the 1950–1975 model years. Hardtops in the Chevrolet Deluxe Styleline model range were designated with the Bel Air name from 1950–1952, but it was not a distinct series of its own until...

 of the same year.

In 1952, Pontiac discontinued the Streamliner and replaced it with additional models in the Chieftain line built on the GM A-body platform. This single model line continued until 1954 when the Star Chief
Pontiac Star Chief
The Star Chief was a car built by General Motors' Pontiac division between 1954 and 1966.Between 1954 and 1957, the Star Chief was Pontiac's prestige model; the car was easily identified by its chrome star trim along its sides...

 was added. The Star Chief was created by adding an 11 inches (279.4 mm) extension to the A-body platform creating a 124 inches (3,149.6 mm) wheelbase.

The 1953 models were the first to have one-piece windshields instead of the normal two-piece units. While the 1953 and 1954 models were heavily re-worked versions of the 1949-52 Chieftain models, they were engineered to accommodate the V-8 engine that would appear in the all-new 1955 models.

1955–1960

Completely new bodies and chassis were introduced for 1955. A new 173-horsepower (129 kW) overhead valve V-8 engine was introduced. (see Engines section below). Sales increased. With the introduction of this V-8, the six cylinder engines were discontinued; a six-cylinder engine would not return to the full-size Pontiac line until the GM corporate downsizing of 1977. An overhead cam six cylinder engine was used in the Tempest model line starting in 1966, as well as on the Firebird. It was the first mass produced engine in America utilizing an overhead camshaft configuration.

In 1956 when Semon "Bunkie" Knudsen became general manager of Pontiac, with the aid of his new heads of engineering, E. M. Estes
Pete Estes
Elliot Marantette "Pete" Estes was an American automotive engineer and executive, most known as being the fifteenth president of General Motors, from 1974 to 1981...

 and John DeLorean, he immediately began reworking the brand's image. One of the first steps involved the removal of the famous trademark "silver streaks" from the hood and deck lid of the 1957 models just weeks before the '57s were introduced. Another step was introducing the first Bonneville—a limited-edition Star Chief convertible that showcased Pontiac's first fuel-injected engine. Some 630 Bonnevilles were built for 1957, each with a retail price of nearly $5800. While new car buyers could buy a Cadillac for that price, the Bonneville raised new interest in what Pontiac now called "America's No. 1 Road Car."

The Bonneville, a sub-series of the Star Chief introduced with the 1957 models, then became its own line. These were built on the 122 inches (3,098.8 mm) wheelbase of the A-body platform. A 1958 Tri-Power Pontiac Bonneville
Pontiac Bonneville
The Pontiac Bonneville was an automobile built by the Pontiac division of General Motors from 1957 to 2005. It was introduced as a limited production performance convertible during the 1957 model year...

 was the pace car for that year's Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis 500
The Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, also known as the Indianapolis 500, the 500 Miles at Indianapolis, the Indy 500 or The 500, is an American automobile race, held annually, typically on the last weekend in May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana...

. Also, 1958 was the last year Pontiac Motor Division would bear the "Indian" motif throughout the vehicle.

With the 1959 model year, Pontiac came out with its "Arrowhead" emblem, with the star design in the middle. The "Arrowhead" design ran all the way up the hood from between the split grille, and on Starchief Models, had 8 chrome stars from the emblem design bolted to both sides of the vehicle as chrome trim. Knudsen saw to it that the car received a completely reworked chassis, body and interior styling. Quad headlamps, and a longer, lower body were some of the styling changes.

The Chieftain line was renamed Catalina; Star Chief was downgraded to replace the discontinued Super Chief series, and the Bonneville was now the top of the line, coming equipped with a fuel-injection system. The Star Chief's fourdoor "Vista" hardtop was also shared by the Bonneville. This coincided with major body styling changes across all models that introduced increased glass area, twin V-shaped fins and lower hood profiles. Because of these changes, Motor Trend
Motor Trend
Motor Trend is an American automobile magazine. It first appeared in September 1949, issued by Petersen Publishing Company in Los Angeles, and bearing the tag line "The Magazine for a Motoring World". Petersen Publishing was sold to British publisher EMAP in 1998, who sold the former Petersen...

 magazine picked the entire Pontiac line as 1959 Car of the Year. The '59s have a five-inch (127 mm) wider track, because Knudsen noticed the new, wider bodies looked awkward on the carried-over 1958 frames. The new "Wide-Track" Pontiacs not only had improved styling, but also handled better—a bonus that tied into Pontiac's resurgence in the marketplace.

The 1960 models saw a complete reskinning, which removed the tailfin
Tailfin
The tailfin era of automobile styling encompassed the 1950s and 1960s, peaking between 1957 and 1960. It was a style that spread worldwide, as car designers picked up styling trends from the US automobile industry where it was the golden epoch of American autodesign.General Motors design chief...

s and the distinctive split grille (which Ford copied on the final Edsel
Edsel
The Edsel was an automobile manufactured by the Ford Motor Company during the 1958, 1959, and 1960 model years. The Edsel never gained popularity with contemporary American car buyers and sold poorly. Consequently, the Ford Motor Company lost millions of dollars on the Edsel's development,...

 models for 1960). Ventura was introduced, a more luxurious hardtop coupe and the Vista 4-door hardtop now being built on the shorter 122 inches (3,098.8 mm) wheelbase platform, with it falling between the Catalina and Star Chief models. The Ventura featured the luxury features of the Bonneville in the shorter, lighter Catalina body.

1961–1970

The 1961 models were similarly reworked. The split grille returned, as well as all-new bodies and a new design of a perimeter-frame chassis for all its full-size models (something which would be adopted for all of GM's intermediate-sized cars in 1964, and all its full-sized cars in 1965). These new chassis allowed for reduced weight and smaller body sizes. It is interesting to note that the similarly-styled Chevrolet still used the radically different "X" frame in the early 1960s.

But a complete departure in 1961 was the new Tempest
Pontiac Tempest
The Pontiac Tempest was an entry-level compact produced by the Pontiac Motor Division of General Motors, introduced in September 1960 for the 1961 model year....

, one of the three BOP (Buick-Olds-Pontiac) "compacts" introduced that year, the others being the Buick Special
Buick Special
In 1962, the Special was the first American car to use a V6 engine in volume production; it earned Motor Trends Car of the Year for 1962. This 198 in³ Fireball was engineered down from the 215 and used many of the same design parameters, but was cast in iron. Output was 135 hp at...

 and Skylark
Buick Skylark
The Buick Skylark was a passenger car produced by the Buick division of General Motors. The model was made in six production runs. In each run, the car design varied dramatically due to changing technology and tastes, as well as new standards implemented over the years.-1953–1954:Introduced to mark...

 and Oldsmobile F-85 and Cutlass
Oldsmobile Cutlass
The Oldsmobile Cutlass is a line of automobiles made by the Oldsmobile division of General Motors. The Cutlass began as a unibody compact car, but saw its greatest success as a body-on-frame intermediate car....

. Toward the end of the 1961 model year, a fancier version of the Tempest, called "LeMans
Pontiac LeMans
The Pontiac LeMans was a model name applied to compact and intermediate-sized automobiles offered by the Pontiac division of General Motors from 1962 to 1981. The LeMans was replaced by the downsized Pontiac Bonneville for the 1982 model year...

", was introduced. A mispronunciation of the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans
24 Hours of Le Mans
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world's oldest sports car race in endurance racing, held annually since near the town of Le Mans, France. Commonly known as the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency, race teams have to balance speed against the cars' ability to run for 24 hours without sustaining...

 auto race in France was emphasized.

All three were unibody cars, dubbed the "Y-body
GM Y platform
The Y platform, or Y body, designation has been used twice by the General Motors Corporation to describe a series of vehicles all built on the same basic body and sharing many parts and characteristics...

" platform, combining the frame and the body into a single construction, making them comparatively lighter and smaller. All three put into production new technology that GM had been working on for several years prior, but the Tempest was by far the most radical. A seven-foot flexible steel shaft, rotating at the speed of the engine, delivered power from the front-mounted engine to a rear-mounted transaxle through a "torque tube." Because it was curved when installed, the so-called "propeller shaft" was dubbed "ropeshaft." The design's father was none other than DeLorean, and its advantage was twofold: first, the car achieved close to a 50/50 weight balance that drastically improved handling; and second, it enabled four-wheel independent suspension. This was a feature that no other American car could match save the Corvair
Chevrolet Corvair
-First generation :The 1960 Corvair 500 and 700 series four-door sedans were conceived as economy cars offering few amenities in order to keep the price competitive, with the 500 selling for under $2,000...

, as well as eliminating the floor "hump" that usually came with front engined rear drive cars.

Though the Tempest's transaxle was similar to the one in the Corvair
Chevrolet Corvair
-First generation :The 1960 Corvair 500 and 700 series four-door sedans were conceived as economy cars offering few amenities in order to keep the price competitive, with the 500 selling for under $2,000...

, introduced the year before, it shared virtually no common parts. GM had planned to launch a Pontiac version of the Corvair (dubbed "Polaris"), but "Bunkie" Knudsen—whose niece had been seriously injured in a Corvair crash—successfully argued against the idea. The Polaris design apparently made it to full-scale clay before it was cancelled. Instead, DeLorean's "ropeshaft" design was greenlighted.

Contemporary rumors of the ropeshaft's demise due to reliability problems are unfounded; the ropeshaft's durability and performance had been proven in tests in full-size Pontiacs and Cadillac
Cadillac
Cadillac is an American luxury vehicle marque owned by General Motors . Cadillac vehicles are sold in over 50 countries and territories, but mostly in North America. Cadillac is currently the second oldest American automobile manufacturer behind fellow GM marque Buick and is among the oldest...

s in 1959, and only adapted to a smaller car in 1960. The Tempest won the Motor Trend
Motor Trend
Motor Trend is an American automobile magazine. It first appeared in September 1949, issued by Petersen Publishing Company in Los Angeles, and bearing the tag line "The Magazine for a Motoring World". Petersen Publishing was sold to British publisher EMAP in 1998, who sold the former Petersen...

 "Car of the Year
Car of the Year
Car of the Year is a phrase usually considered to have been invented by Motor Trend magazine in the 1950s for their annual award for best American automobile...

" award in 1961—for Pontiac, the second time in three years. DeLorean's vision has been further vindicated by the adoption of similar designs in a slew of modern high-performance cars, including the Porsche 928
Porsche 928
The Porsche 928 was a sports-GT car sold by Porsche AG of Germany from 1978 to 1995. Originally intended to replace the company's iconic 911, the 928 attempted to combine the power, poise, and handling of a sports car with the refinement, comfort, and equipment of a luxury sedan to create what some...

, the Corvette C5, and the Aston Martin DB9
Aston Martin DB9
-DB9 Volante:The Aston Martin DB9 Volante is the convertible version of the DB9 coupe. It is built by hand in limited numbers and has enhanced styling. It is powered by the same 6.0 litre, DOHC 48 valve V12 as the DB9 and is completed with 470 bhp and a top speed of 186 mph...

.

Unless customers checked an option, the Tempest's powerplant was a 194.5 ci inline-slant-four-cylinder motor, derived from the right bank of the venerable Pontiac 389 V8, enabling it to be run down the same production line as the 389, saving costs for both the car's customers and Pontiac. Pontiac engineers ran early tests of this motor by literally cutting off the left bank of pistons and adding counterweights to the crankshaft, and were surprised to find it easily maintained the heaviest Pontiacs at over 90 mi/h. In production, the engine received a crankshaft designed for just four cylinders, but this didn't completely solve its balance issues. The engine gained the nickname "Hay Baler" because of it tendency to kick violently, like the farm machine, when its timing was off.

The aforementioned Buick 215 V8, was ordered by less than two percent of its customers in the two years it was available, 1961 and 1962. Today, the 215 cars are among the most sought-after of all Tempests. In 1963, Pontiac replaced the 215 with a "new" 326, an iron block mill that had the same external dimensions and shared parts with the 389, but an altered, reduced bore. The car's body and suspension was also changed to be lower, longer and wider. The response was that more than half of the 1963 Tempests and LeMans (separate lines for that one year only) were ordered with the V8, a trend that did not go unnoticed by management. The next year, the performance V8 option was badged as the now-famous GTO
Pontiac GTO
The Pontiac GTO is an automobile built by Pontiac Division of General Motors in the United States from 1964 to 1974, and by GM subsidiary Holden in Australia from 2004 to 2006. It is considered an innovative, and now classic muscle car of the 1960s and 1970s...

. The Tempest's popularity helped move Pontiac into third place among American car brands in 1962, a position Pontiac would hold through 1970. The Buick 215 V8 would remain in production for more than thirty five years, being used by Britain's Rover Group after it had bought the rights to it. GM attempted to buy the rights back, however, Rover wished, instead, to sell the engines directly.

In 1961, Knudsen had moved to Chevrolet and Estes had taken over as general manager. Estes continued Knudsen's work of making Pontiac a performance-car brand until 1964, when John DeLorean replaced Estes as general manager, and he too continued in the same direction. Pontiac capitalized on the emerging trend toward sportier bucket-seat coupes in 1962 by introducing the Grand Prix
Pontiac Grand Prix
Picking up where the Pontiac Ventura model left off, the Grand Prix first appeared in the Pontiac line for 1962. It was essentially a standard Pontiac Catalina coupe with minimal outside chrome trim and a sportier interior...

. Although GM officially ended factory support for all racing activities across all of its brands in January 1963, Pontiac continued to cater to performance car enthusiasts by making larger engines with more power available across all model lines. For 1963, the Grand Prix received the same styling changes as other full-sized Pontiacs such as vertical headlights and crisper body lines, but also received its own squared-off roofline with a concave rear window, along with less chrome.

For 1964, the Tempest and LeMans' transaxle design was dropped and the cars were redesigned under GM's new A body
GM A platform (RWD)
The General Motors A platform was a rear wheel drive automobile platform designation used from at least 1939 up until 1981...

 platform; frame cars with a conventional front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. The most important of these is the GTO
Pontiac GTO
The Pontiac GTO is an automobile built by Pontiac Division of General Motors in the United States from 1964 to 1974, and by GM subsidiary Holden in Australia from 2004 to 2006. It is considered an innovative, and now classic muscle car of the 1960s and 1970s...

, short for "Gran Turismo Omologato," the Italian for "Grand Touring, Homologated" used by Ferrari as a badge to announce a car's official qualification for racing. In spite of a GM unwritten edict against engines larger than 330 ci in intermediate cars, DeLorean (with support from Jim Wangers from Pontiac's ad agency), came up with the idea to offer the GTO as a dealer option package that included a 389 ci engine rated at 325 or 348 hp.

The entire Pontiac lineup was honored as Motor Trend's Car of the Year for 1965, the third time for Pontiac to receive such honors. The February, 1965 issue of Motor Trend was almost entirely devoted to Pontiac's Car of the Year award and included feature stories on the division's marketing, styling, engineering and performance efforts along with road tests of several models.

Due to the popularity of the GTO option, it was split from being an option on the Tempest LeMans series to become the separate GTO series. On the technology front, 1966 saw the introduction of a completely new overhead camshaft 6-cylinder engine in the Tempest, and in an industry first, plastic grilles were used on several models.

The 1967 model year saw the introduction for the Pontiac Firebird
Pontiac Firebird
The Pontiac Firebird was built by the Pontiac division of General Motors between 1967 and 2002. The Firebird was introduced the same year as the automaker's platform-sharing model, the Chevrolet Camaro...

 pony car
Pony car
Pony car is an American class of automobile launched and inspired by the Ford Mustang in 1964. The term describes an affordable, compact, highly styled car with a sporty or performance-oriented image.-Origins of the breed:...

, a variant of the Chevrolet Camaro
Chevrolet Camaro
The Chevrolet Camaro is an automobile manufactured by General Motors under the Chevrolet brand, classified as a pony car and some versions also as a muscle car. It went on sale on September 29, 1966, for the 1967 model year and was designed as a competing model to the Ford Mustang...

 that was the brand's answer to the hot-selling Ford Mustang
Ford Mustang
The Ford Mustang is an automobile manufactured by the Ford Motor Company. It was initially based on the second generation North American Ford Falcon, a compact car. Introduced early on April 17, 1964, as a "1964½" model, the 1965 Mustang was the automaker's most successful launch since the Model A...

. Intermediate sized cars (Tempest, LeMans, GTO) were mildly facelifted but the GTO lost its Tri-Power engine option though it did get a larger 400 cubic-inch V8 that replaced the previous 389. Full-sized cars got a major facelift with rounder wasp-wasted bodylines, a name change for the mid-line series from Star Chief to Executive and a one-year-only Grand Prix convertible. The 1968 Bonneville models had copied styling from both the front and rear of the Edsel. The front view of the 1959 Edsel and the rear view of the 1958 Edsel bear a striking resemblance. 1968 introduced the Endura 'rubber' front bumper on the GTO, the precursor to modern cars' integrated bumpers, and the first of a series "Ram Air" engines, which featured the induction of cold air to the carburetor(s) for more power, and took away some of the sting from deleting the famous Tri-Power multiple carburation option from the engine line up. This line culminated in the Ram Air IV and V round port cylinder headed engines. The Ram Air V garnered much auto press publicity, but only a relative few were made available for sale. Full-sized cars and intermediates reverted from vertical to horizontal headlights while the sporty/performance 2+2
Pontiac 2+2
The Pontiac 2+2 was a full size high performance automobile manufactured by Pontiac Motor Division. It debuted in 1964 as an interior trim option for the Pontiac Catalina, with special door panels, buckets seats and center console...

 was dropped from the lineup.

For 1969, Pontiac moved the Grand Prix from the full-sized lineup into a G-body model of its own based on the A-body intermediate chassis, but with distinctive styling and long hood/short deck proportions to create yet another niche product - the intermediate-sized personal-luxury car that offered the luxury and styling of the higher priced personal cars such as the Buick Riviera and Ford Thunderbird but for a much lower pricetag. The new Grand Prix was such a sales success in 1969 as dealers moved 112,000 units - more than four times the number of Grand Prixs sold in 1968. Full-sized Pontiacs were also substantially restyled but retained the same basic underbody structure and chassis that debuted with the 1965 model - in fact the rooflines for the four-door pillared sedans and Safari wagons were the same as the '65 models, while the two-door semi-fastback design gave way to a squared-off notchback style and four-door hardtop sedans were also more squared off than 1967-68 models. The GTOs and Firebirds received the Ram Air options, the GTO saw the addition of the "Judge" performance/appearance package, and the Firebird also got the "Trans Am" package. Although originally conceived as a 303 cubic inch model to compete directly in the Trans Am racing series, in a cost saving move the Pontiac Trans Am debuted with the standard 400 cubic inch performance engines. This year also saw De Lorean leaving the post of general manager to accept a similar position at GM's Chevrolet division. His replacement was F. James McDonald.

The 1969 Firebirds received a heavy facelift but otherwise continued much the same as the original 1967 model. It was the final year for the overhead cam six-cylinder engine in Firebirds and intermediates, and the Firebird convertible (until 1991). Production of the 1969 Firebirds was extended into the first three months of the 1970 model year (all other 1970 Pontiacs debuted Sept. 18, 1969) due to a decision to delay the introduction of an all-new 1970 Firebird (and Chevrolet Camaro) until after the first of the year - Feb. 26, 1970 to be exact.

1970–1982

Increasing insurance and fuel costs for owners coupled with looming Federal emissions and safety regulations would eventually put an end to the unrestricted, powerful engines of the 1960s. Safety, luxury and economy would become the new watch-words of this decade. Engine performance began declining in 1971 when GM issued a corporate edict mandating that all engines be capable of using lower-octane unleaded gasoline, which led to dramatic drops in compression ratios, along with performance and fuel economy. This, coupled with trying to build cars as plush as GM's more luxurious Buicks and Oldsmobiles, contributed to the start of a slow decline of Pontiac in 1971.

In mid-1971 Pontiac introduced the compact, budget-priced Ventura II (based on the third generation Chevrolet Nova
Chevrolet Nova
The Chevrolet Chevy II/Nova is a compact automobile manufactured by the Chevrolet division of General Motors produced in four generations for the 1962 through 1979 model years. Nova was the top model in the Chevy II lineup through 1968. The Chevy II nameplate was dropped, Nova becoming the...

). This same year, Pontiac completely restyled its full-sized cars, moved the Bonneville, and replaced it with a higher luxury model named the Grand Ville, while Safari wagons got a new clamshell tailgate that lowered into the body while the rear window raised into the roof.

1971-1976 model full-size station wagons featured a 'Clamshell' design where the rear power-operated glass slid up into the roof as the tailgate (manually or with power assist), dropped below the load floor. The power tailgate, the first in station wagon history, ultimately supplanted the manual tailgate, which required marked effort to lift from storage. The Clamshell system — heavy and complex — remained un-adopted by any other manufacturer.

The 1972 models saw the first wave of emissions reduction and safety equipment and updates. GTO was a now sub-series of the LeMans series. The Tempest, was dropped, after being renamed 'T-37' and 'GT-37' for 1971. The base 1972 mid-sized Pontiac was now simply called LeMans.

MacDonald left the post of general manager to be replaced by Martin J. Caserio in late 1972. Caserio was the first manager in over a decade to be more focused on marketing and sales than on performance.
For 1973, Pontiac restyled its personal-luxury Grand Prix, mid-sized LeMans and compact Ventura models and introduced the all-new Grand Am
Pontiac Grand Am
The original Grand Am was introduced in the fall of 1972 as a 1973 model. It was based on the GM A platform along with other cars such as the Pontiac LeMans, Pontiac GTO, Chevrolet Chevelle, Buick Century, and the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme...

 as part of the LeMans line. All other models including the big cars and Firebirds received only minor updates. Again, power dropped across all engines as more emissions requirements came into effect. The 1973 Firebird Trans Am's factory applied hood decal, a John Schinella restylized interpretation of the Native American fire bird, took up most of the available space on the hood. Also in 1973, the new Super Duty 455 engine ("Super Duty" harkening back to Pontiac's Racing Engines) was introduced. Although it was originally supposed to be available in GTOs and Firebirds, only a few SD 455 engines made it into Firebird Trans Ams that year. One so equipped was tested by 'Car and Driver' magazine, who proclaimed it the last of the fast cars. But the pendulum had swung, and the SD 455 only hung on one more year in the Trans Am.

All Federal emissions and safety regulations were required to be in full effect for 1974 causing the demise of two of the three iterations of the big 455 cubic inch engines after this year. The last version of the 455 would hang on for two more years before being discontinued.
For 1975, Pontiac introduced the new sub-compact Astre
Chevrolet Vega
The Chevrolet Vega is a subcompact, two-door automobile that was produced by the Chevrolet division of General Motors for the 1971-1977 model years. Named after the star Vega, the car was powered by a lightweight aluminum-block inline four-cylinder engine...

, a version of the Chevrolet Vega
Chevrolet Vega
The Chevrolet Vega is a subcompact, two-door automobile that was produced by the Chevrolet division of General Motors for the 1971-1977 model years. Named after the star Vega, the car was powered by a lightweight aluminum-block inline four-cylinder engine...

. This was the brand's entry into the fuel economy segment of the market. Astre had been sold exclusively in Canada from 1973. It was offered through the 1977 model year. 1975 would also see the end of Pontiac convertibles for the next decade.

The 1976 models were the last of the traditional American large cars powered by mostly big block V8 engines. After this year, all GM models would go through "downsizing" and shrink in length, width, weight and available engine size.
The 1976 Sunbird
Pontiac Sunbird
The Pontiac Sunbird, produced by the Pontiac division of General Motors, was Pontiac's second small-car offering of the 70's. The Sunbird model ran for 18 years and was then replaced in 1995 by the Pontiac Sunfire...

, based on the Chevrolet Vega and Monza's equivalent, joined the line. It was first offered as a Notchback, with a Hatchback body style added in 1977. The Vega Wagon body style was added in 1978, Sunbird Safari Wagon, replacing the Astre Safari Wagon. The Sunbird was offered in its rear-wheel-drive configuration through the 1980 model year. (Sunbird Safari wagon through 1979.)

For 1977, Pontiac replaced the Ventura with the Phoenix, a version of Chevrolet's fourth generation Nova. Pontiac also introduced its 151 cubic inch "Iron Duke
GM Iron Duke engine
Iron Dukes were fitted with fuel injection in 1982. This version was christened the Tech IV, though Car and Driver later ridiculed it as the low-Tech IV. Power output remained at ....

" 4-cylinder overhead valve engine. It was first used in the 1977 Astre, replacing Astre's aluminum-block 140 cubic inch Vega engine. The 'Iron Duke' engine would later go into many GM and non-GM automobiles into the early 1990s. The 151 cubic inch L4 and the 301 cubic inch V-8 were the last two engines designed solely by Pontiac. Subsequent engine design would be accomplished by one central office with all designs being shared by each brand.

The remainder of the 1970s and the early 1980s saw the continued rise of luxury, safety and economy as the key selling points in Pontiac products. Wire-spoked wheel covers returned for the first time since the 1930s. More station wagons than ever were being offered. Padded vinyl roof
Vinyl roof
Vinyl roof refers to a vinyl covering for an automobile's top. This covering was originally designed to give the appearance of a convertible to models with a fixed roof, but eventually it evolved into a styling statement in its own right. Vinyl roofs were most popular in the American market, and...

s were options on almost every model. Rear-wheel drive began its slow demise with the introduction of the first front-wheel drive
Front-wheel drive
Front-wheel drive is a form of engine/transmission layout used in motor vehicles, where the engine drives the front wheels only. Most modern front-wheel drive vehicles feature a transverse engine, rather than the conventional longitudinal engine arrangement generally found in rear-wheel drive and...

 Pontiac, the 1980 Phoenix (a version of the Chevrolet Citation
Chevrolet Citation
The Chevrolet Citation was a compact car sold by the Chevrolet brand of American automaker General Motors for model years 1980-1985. The Citation and its X-body siblings were among GM's first front wheel drive compact cars, following the trend of front drive compacts such as the Honda Accord...

). The Firebird continued to fly high on the success of the 'Smokey and the Bandit
Smokey and the Bandit
Smokey and the Bandit is a 1977 American film starring Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jackie Gleason, Jerry Reed, Pat McCormick, Paul Williams, and Mike Henry. It inspired several other trucking films, including two sequels, Smokey and the Bandit II, and Smokey and the Bandit Part 3...

' film, still offering Formula and Trans Am packages, plus a Pontiac first- a turbocharged V-8, for the 1980 and 1981 model years. Overall, Pontiac's performance was a shadow of its former self, but to give credit where due, Pontiac Motor Division did more with less than most other brands were able to in this era.

1982–1988

Introduced in 1982, the wedge shaped Firebird was the first major redesign of the venerable pony car since 1970. Partly due to the hugely successful NBC television series Knight Rider, it was an instant success and provided Pontiac with a foundation on which to build successively more performance oriented models over the next decade. The Trans Am also set a production aerodynamic mark of .32 cd.

The next step in Pontiac's resurgence came in the form of its first convertible in nine years. GM adapted the J-body
GM J platform
The J platform, or J-body, was General Motors' inexpensive front-wheel drive automobile platform from the 1980s and 1990s. The platform replaced the GM H platform. The J-platform is the only platform of GM to have a model in each of its "Original 5" passenger car divisions...

 cars. The all-new for 1982 J2000 (later renamed Sunbird
Pontiac Sunbird
The Pontiac Sunbird, produced by the Pontiac division of General Motors, was Pontiac's second small-car offering of the 70's. The Sunbird model ran for 18 years and was then replaced in 1995 by the Pontiac Sunfire...

) had a convertible as part of its line.

Next came the 1984 Fiero
Pontiac Fiero
The Pontiac Fiero is a mid-engined sports car that was built by the Pontiac division of General Motors from 1984 to 1988. The Fiero—meaning "proud" in Italian and "wild", "fierce", or "ferocious" in Spanish—was designed by George Milidrag and Hulki Aldikacti as a Pontiac sports car...

. This was a major departure from anything Pontiac had produced in the past. A two-seat, mid-engined coupe, the Fiero was targeted straight at the same market that Semon Knudsen had been aiming for in the late 1950s: the young, affluent buyer who wanted sporting performance at a reasonable price. The Fiero was also an instant success and was partially responsible for Pontiac seeing its first increase in sales in four years.

Pontiac also began to focus on technology. In 1984, a Special Touring Edition (STE) was added to the 6000
Pontiac 6000
The Pontiac 6000 was a mid-size car introduced by the Pontiac division of General Motors in 1981 for the 1982 model year, positioned between the smaller Phoenix and the slightly upscale Bonneville...

 line as a competitor to European road cars such as the Mercedes 190
Mercedes-Benz W201
The Mercedes-Benz W201 is a compact executive car manufactured by Mercedes-Benz from 1982–1993, positioned below the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and S-Class — and marketed under variants of the Mercedes 190 nameplate....

. The STE sported digital instruments and other electronics as well as a more powerful V-6 and retuned suspension. Later iterations would see some of the first introductions on Pontiacs of anti-lock brakes, steering wheel mounted radio controls and other advanced features.

With the exception of the Firebird and Fiero, beginning in 1988 all Pontiacs switched to front-wheel drive platforms. For the first time since 1970, Pontiac was the number three domestic car maker in America. Pontiac's drive to bring in more youthful buyers was working as the median age of Pontiac owners dropped from 46 in 1981 to 38 in 1988.

1989–1997

With the focus back on performance, Pontiac was once again doing what it did best. Although updating and revamping continued throughout the 1990s, the vast change seen during the 1980s did not. The period between 1989 and 1997 can best be described as one of continuous refinement. Anti-lock brakes, GM's Quad-4
GM Quad-4 engine
The engine family known as the Quad 4 was debuted to the public in the spring of 1987. The Quad 4 was a DOHC inline 4-cylinder produced by General Motors' Oldsmobile division...

 engine, airbag
Airbag
An Airbag is a vehicle safety device. It is an occupant restraint consisting of a flexible envelope designed to inflate rapidly during an automobile collision, to prevent occupants from striking interior objects such as the steering wheel or a window...

s and composite materials all became standard on Pontiacs during this time.

All new models were produced but at more lengthy intervals. The 1990 model year saw the launch of Pontiac's first minivan
Minivan
Minivan is a type of van designed for personal use. Minivans are typically either two-box or one box designs for maximum interior volume – and are taller than a sedan, hatchback, or a station wagon....

 and light truck
Light truck
Light truck or light duty truck is a U.S. classification for trucks or truck-based vehicles with a payload capacity of less than 4,000 pounds...

, the Trans Sport
Pontiac Trans Sport
The Pontiac Trans Sport and its siblings, the Chevrolet Lumina APV and Oldsmobile Silhouette were a set of minivans that débuted with radical styling in fall 1989 as 1990 models. There was also a Chevrolet Trans Sport sold in Europe until 2005 that was a version of the Chevrolet Venture that had...

. The Sunbird was replaced with the (still J-body) Sunfire in 1995.

Most significantly, an all new Firebird bowed in 1993. It was powered by either a 3.4L V-6 with 160 hp, or in TransAm guise a roaring 275 hp L-T1, which was a 5.7L (350c.i.) V-8, and could be backed by a T-56 six speed manual (which was similar to the transmission found in contemporary Corvettes and Vipers). This new Firebird easily outperformed its main rival, the Ford Mustang, but didn't do as well in the marketplace due to the Mustang's superior image and refinement, particularly in the interior.

1997–2004

Beginning in 1996, Pontiac began mining its historic past. This was the last year for the 6th generation Grand Prix.  1997 led the way for an all new Grand Prix
Pontiac Grand Prix
Picking up where the Pontiac Ventura model left off, the Grand Prix first appeared in the Pontiac line for 1962. It was essentially a standard Pontiac Catalina coupe with minimal outside chrome trim and a sportier interior...

, which debuted with the Wide Track chassis making a return spearheaded by the "Wider is Better" advertising campaign. In addition, the GTP trim level was added to the Grand Prix. It featured a supercharged 3.8L V-6 putting out 240 hp and 280 ft.lbf of torque. It was only available with an automatic with front wheel drive so its sporting appeal was limited, but it made a compelling case against the Accord/Camry.

The 1999 model year saw the replacement of the Trans Sport with the larger Montana
Pontiac Montana
The Pontiac Montana is a minivan from the Pontiac division of General Motors. Prior to the 1997 model year, it was known as Pontiac Trans Sport. In 1997, the Trans Sport added the Montana moniker as part of an available trim package. The package proved so popular the line was renamed Montana in...

 minivan. The year 2000 marked the first redesign of the Bonneville, since 1992. Based on the G-Body, the same as the Oldsmobile Aurora and Buick LeSabre, the car was more substantial feeling all around.

In 1998 the Firebird was updated. It featured sleeker styling and improved amenities. The TransAm received the LS-1 motor which produced 305 hp. The WS6 option saw this number increase to 320 hp and the addition of Ram Air and stiffer springs. However, despite handily outperforming the redesigned 1999 Mustang, the Firebird was not nearly as large a sales success. In 2002 both the Firebird/Trans Am and Camaro were discontinued as a result of declining sales and a saturated sport market. The coupe version of the Grand Prix was also discontinued.

In 2003, it was announced that the Grand Prix would be in its last year of its generation, with an improved 7th generation on the way for 2004.

In 2004 the re-introduction of the Pontiac GTO (based on the Holden Monaro
Holden Monaro
The Holden Monaro is an automobile that was produced by GM Holden Ltd, an Australian subsidiary of General Motors, between 1968 and 1977 and between 2001 and 2005...

 from Australia) took place, effectively replacing the spot left by the TransAm and Camaro. The GTO was also initially powered by the 350 HP LS-1 V8 in 2004. It had an independent front and rear suspension and a upscale full leather interior. It's clean lines and understated looks drew some criticism but those that actually drove the car found it to be a quite capable grand tourer. Sales were average and consistently sold in the mid tens of thousands for all three years but did not reach the 18,000 units that GM predicted. Initial dealer mark ups, slow shipping transit from Australia, and lack of advertisement by GM were to blame. Due to the retirement of the LS1 engine in 2004, Pontiac added the drive-by-wire 400 HP LS2 V8 for 2005-2006 model years at no additional cost. Additional upgrades also consisted of stainless steel dual exhaust outlets, larger corvette sourced PBR brakes with EBD, larger front vented rotors with vented rear rotors, and functional heat extractor hood scoops to cater to some of the critics that the 2004 model may have been too plain compared to traditional muscle cars like the 2005 retro-themed Mustang. For the Bonneville, the GXP trim level was introduced, replacing the SSEi name. The Bonneville GXP featured a 4.6 Northstar V8, borrowed from Cadillac, and replaced the Supercharged 3800 Series II. The redesigned Grand Prix made its appearance, and featured a GT and GTP trim level. The GTP's new 3.8L supercharged V-6 now made 260 hp, up 20 from the previous generation. TAPshift was also introduced as well as a Competition Group package (Comp G).

2005–2010

Pontiac went through a complete product revamping through this period. The Grand Am was replaced with the mid-size G6
Pontiac G6
The Pontiac G6 was a mid-size car produced under the Pontiac brand of American automaker General Motors.It was introduced in the fall of 2004 to replace the Grand Am. The car was built on the GM Epsilon platform which it shared with the Chevrolet Malibu and Saab 9-3 along with other General Motors...

 in 2004. The Bonneville ended production in 2005 after nearly 50 years of production. Although it was not directly replaced, the RWD G8
Pontiac G8
The Pontiac G8 is a rear-wheel drive sedan that was produced by Holden, the Australian General Motors subsidiary. The G8, a rebadged Holden Commodore, was released in early 2008 for the 2008 model year in the United States, and in 2008 for the 2009 model year in Canada. Production stopped in...

 served as an initial replacement. The Solstice
Pontiac Solstice
The Pontiac Solstice is a small sports car from the Pontiac division of General Motors. Introduced at the 2004 North American International Auto Show, the Solstice roadster began production in Wilmington, Delaware, starting in mid-2005 for the 2006 model year. The exterior styling of the...

 concept shown in 2003 was approved for production as a roadster. The controversial and slow-selling Aztek was finally phased out and replaced by the Torrent, which was identical to the Chevrolet Equinox
Chevrolet Equinox
The second generation Equinox was announced by GM on December 21, 2008, and debuted at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The 2010 Equinox went on sale in June 2009. It is built on a stiffened version of the same "Theta" platform used in the previous model. The new Equinox...

. The Sunfire was discontinued in 2005, along with the Chevrolet Cavalier, and its replacement, the G5
Pontiac G5
The Pontiac G5 is a rebadged Chevrolet Cobalt compact car that was marketed by the Pontiac division of General Motors. It was first introduced in 2004 for the 2005 model year. For 2005 and early 2006, this car was known as the Pontiac Pursuit in the Canadian market, and G5 Pursuit during mid-2006. ...

, didn't appear until the 2007 model year.

The Grand Prix ended production in 2008 and the launch of the Australian-built RWD G8 commenced. The G8 gained positive reception for its high performance and low costs. Many noted the G8 as the poor man's BMW M5
BMW M5
The first BMW M5, based on the E28 5 Series, made its debut at Amsterdam Motor Show in February 1984. It was the product of demand for an automobile with the carrying capacity of a saloon , but the overall performance of a sports car. It utilized the 535i chassis and an evolution of the engine from...

, due to similar performance but at a much cheaper price. The Holden Ute was scheduled to be launched as the G8 ST before it was cancelled in January 2009 due to GM's financial situation. It was later announced that the G8 may not see a second generation.

Towards the end of the decade many rumors began spreading that Pontiac would become completely reliant on RWD. Reports ranged from a compact sedan based on the Alpha platform to a new RWD G6 for the 2013 model year. Many reports suggested that the Trans Am/Firebird
Pontiac Firebird
The Pontiac Firebird was built by the Pontiac division of General Motors between 1967 and 2002. The Firebird was introduced the same year as the automaker's platform-sharing model, the Chevrolet Camaro...

 would return after GM confirmed the rebirth of the Camaro, however, no reports confirmed this.

On December 2, 2008, General Motors
General Motors
General Motors Company , commonly known as GM, formerly incorporated as General Motors Corporation, is an American multinational automotive corporation headquartered in Detroit, Michigan and the world's second-largest automaker in 2010...

 announced that it was considering eliminating numerous brands, including Pontiac, in order to appease Congress in hope of receiving a 25 billion dollar loan. On February 17, 2009, GM originally proposed the elimination of its Saturn division, the sale of Saab
Saab Automobile
Saab Automobile AB, better known as Saab , is a Swedish car manufacturer owned by Dutch automobile manufacturer Swedish Automobile NV, formerly Spyker Cars NV. It is the exclusive automobile Royal Warrant holder as appointed by the King of Sweden...

, and either the sale or elimination of Hummer
Hummer
Hummer was a brand of trucks and SUVs, first marketed in 1992 when AM General began selling a civilian version of the M998 Humvee. In 1998, General Motors purchased the brand name and marketed three vehicles: the original Hummer H1, based on the Humvee; and the H2 and H3 models that were...

, depending on whether a buyer could be found quickly. In the original plan GM also clarified that Pontiac would have begun to focus on "niche" models aimed at the "youthful and sporty" segment, but did not provide specifics. Pontiac was to trim its number of models to four, although there was talk of retaining only one model. By April 2009 several automotive websites and business publications were reporting that GM was doing a study suggesting it might eliminate the brand altogether, along with sister truck brand GMC. On April 23 a report was published stating the company would be dropping the Pontiac brand while preserving the GMC truck line, as well as the Chevrolet, Cadillac, and Buick brands. The decision to eliminate Pontiac was made primarily due to the increasing threat of a bankruptcy filing if the June 1 deadline could not be met. On April 27, 2009, GM officially announced that Pontiac would be dropped and that all of its remaining models would be phased out by the end of 2010.

General Motors will cut an additional 7,000 to 8,000 factory jobs in the United States and shed 2,600 dealers by 2010 under a revised business plan developed with the Obama administration. GM Chief Executive Officer Fritz Henderson said the Pontiac brand would be closed by 2010, calling it an “extremely personal decision.” In addition to speeding up decisions on Saturn, Saab and Hummer, GM will be left with four brands – Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac.
In early May 2009, Jim Waldron, a Davison, Michigan, Pontiac dealer, announced that he was interested in purchasing the Pontiac brand and logos, and had found financing to purchase them as well as some soon-to-be shuttered GM plants in order to build cars. However, GM had already decided to retire the brand as it has begun to sell off its remaining inventory and said that, unlike Saturn, the brand was not for sale.

The last American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 Pontiac, a 2010 G6, was built on November 25, 2009, at the Orion Assembly
Orion Assembly
Orion Assembly is a General Motors vehicle assembly plant located in Orion Township, Michigan. The plant currently assembles the Chevrolet Sonic. the plant employs 159 salaried employees and 1,300 hourly employees.- History :...

 plant. No public farewell took place, although a group of plant employees documented the event. In December 2009, the last Pontiac-branded vehicle to roll off an assembly line was in the Canadian-market Pontiac G3 Wave, manufactured in South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

 by GM Daewoo
GM Daewoo
GM Korea Company is South Korea's second largest automobile manufacturer and is a division of the General Motors Company. GM Korea's roots go back to the former Daewoo which was split from its parent company, Daewoo Group, in 2001...

.

The Pontiac brand was pulled after the 2009 model year in Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and the brand was renamed Matiz, selling only one vehicle, the Matiz G2
Daewoo Matiz
-M100 :The production of Daewoo Matiz started in 1998 and it was sold in South Korea and many European markets with the code name M100. The exterior design is based on the Lucciola, a Fiat Cinquecento concept by Italdesign Giugiaro which had been rejected by Fiat. The 0.8-litre gasoline engine and...

 (Matiz's logo is similar to Pontiac's).

Pontiac became the second brand General Motors
General Motors
General Motors Company , commonly known as GM, formerly incorporated as General Motors Corporation, is an American multinational automotive corporation headquartered in Detroit, Michigan and the world's second-largest automaker in 2010...

 has eliminated in six years. Oldsmobile
Oldsmobile
Oldsmobile was a brand of American automobile produced for most of its existence by General Motors. It was founded by Ransom E. Olds in 1897. In its 107-year history, it produced 35.2 million cars, including at least 14 million built at its Lansing, Michigan factory...

 met the same fate in 2004 after being more slowly phased out over four years. Pontiac also became the ninth North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

n automobile brand since 1987 to be phased out, after Merkur
Merkur
Merkur , Mercury) was an automobile brand which was briefly marketed by Ford Motor Company in the United States and Canada from 1985 to 1989...

, Passport
Passport (automobile dealership)
Passport was a Canadian car dealership network owned by General Motors. It sold vehicles from Isuzu and Saab as well as its own branded Passport Optima, a Korean made badge engineered Opel Kadett E, starting in model year 1988...

, Asüna
Asüna
Asüna was a captive import automobile brand created in 1992 for the Canadian market by General Motors as a counterpart to Geo. It was one of two successors to the Passport brand, which had a similar intent....

, Geo
Geo (automobile)
Geo was a brand of small cars made by General Motors as a subdivision of its famous Chevrolet division from 1989 to 1997. Its original slogan was "Get to know Geo." Originally formed by GM to compete with the growing small import market of the mid 1980s, the line continued through the 1997 model...

, Plymouth
Plymouth (automobile)
Plymouth was a marque of automobile based in the United States, produced by the Chrysler Corporation and its successor DaimlerChrysler.-Origins:...

, American Motors
American Motors
American Motors Corporation was an American automobile company formed by the 1954 merger of Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and Hudson Motor Car Company. At the time, it was the largest corporate merger in U.S. history.George W...

 (AMC) (renamed Eagle
Eagle (automobile)
Eagle was a marque of the Chrysler Corporation following the purchase of American Motors Corporation and aimed at the enthusiast driver.Though short-lived, the Eagle Vision sedan sold in respectable numbers, while the sporty Eagle Talon sold more than 115,000 units.-Overview:Following the...

 in 1988, only to be phased out a decade later), and Oldsmobile
Oldsmobile
Oldsmobile was a brand of American automobile produced for most of its existence by General Motors. It was founded by Ransom E. Olds in 1897. In its 107-year history, it produced 35.2 million cars, including at least 14 million built at its Lansing, Michigan factory...

.

In January 2010, Saab
Saab Automobile
Saab Automobile AB, better known as Saab , is a Swedish car manufacturer owned by Dutch automobile manufacturer Swedish Automobile NV, formerly Spyker Cars NV. It is the exclusive automobile Royal Warrant holder as appointed by the King of Sweden...

 was purchased by the Dutch auto manufacturer Spyker Cars
Spyker Cars
Spyker Cars is a Dutch sports car marque. The modern Spyker Cars only has the legal right to the brand name. The company's motto is "Nulla tenaci invia est via", which is Latin for "For the tenacious, no road is impassable". The marque's logo displays the piston engine of an airplane, a reference...

 and was renamed "Saab Spyker Cars." 2010 would also see the end of the Saturn and Hummer
Hummer
Hummer was a brand of trucks and SUVs, first marketed in 1992 when AM General began selling a civilian version of the M998 Humvee. In 1998, General Motors purchased the brand name and marketed three vehicles: the original Hummer H1, based on the Humvee; and the H2 and H3 models that were...

 brands.

Style trademarks and logo

A Native American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 headdress was used as a logo until 1956. This was updated to the currently used Native American red arrowhead design for 1957. The arrowhead logo is also known as the Dart.

Besides the logo, another identifying feature of Pontiacs were their "Silver Streaks" -- one or more narrow strips of stainless steel which extended from the grille down the center of the hood. Eventually they extended from the rear window to the rear bumper as well, and finally; along the tops of the fins. Although initially a single band, this stylistic trademark doubled to two for 1955 - 1956. The Streaks were discontinued the same year the Indian Head emblems were; 1957.

Other long-familiar styling elements were the split grille design (from 1959 onward), pointed 'arrowhead' nose (in the 1960s and 70s), and "grilled-over" (in the 1960s), or multiple-striped taillights. This later feature originated with the 1963 Grand Prix
Pontiac Grand Prix
Picking up where the Pontiac Ventura model left off, the Grand Prix first appeared in the Pontiac line for 1962. It was essentially a standard Pontiac Catalina coupe with minimal outside chrome trim and a sportier interior...

, and although the '62 Grand Prix also had rear grillework, the taillight lenses were not behind it. Less longstanding but equally memorable is the 'cladding' common on the doors and fenders of Pontiacs produced in the 1980s and 90s. Rather than minimizing the side bumper, Pontiac designers put two troughs going along the length. Reviews were generally negative but bumpers with this appearance were found on nearly all Pontiacs until the arrival of the G6. From 2004 onwards, new Pontiacs had cleaner, more premium styling, but retained the traditional split grille.

Engines

Pontiac engineer Clayton Leach designed the stamped steel valvetrain rocker arm, a simplified and reliable alternative to a bearing-equipped rocker. This design was subsequently picked up by nearly every OHV engine manufacturer at one point or another.

Pontiac began work on a V-8 configuration in 1946. This was initially intended to be an L-head engine, and 8 experimental units were built and extensively tested by the end of the 1940s. But testing comparisons to the OHV
Overhead valve
An overhead valve engine, also informally called pushrod engine or I-head engine, is a type of piston engine that places the camshaft within the cylinder block , and uses pushrods or rods to actuate rocker arms above the cylinder...

 Oldsmobile
Oldsmobile
Oldsmobile was a brand of American automobile produced for most of its existence by General Motors. It was founded by Ransom E. Olds in 1897. In its 107-year history, it produced 35.2 million cars, including at least 14 million built at its Lansing, Michigan factory...

 V-8 revealed the L-head could not compete performance-wise. So, in addition to building a new Pontiac Engineering building in 1949-1951, the decision to re-direct the V-8 to an OHV design delayed its introduction until the 1955 model year.

In mid-1956, Pontiac introduced a higher-powered version of its V-8. Among other things, this version of the engine was equipped with a high performance racing camshaft and dual 4-barrel carburetors. This was the first in a series of NASCAR
NASCAR
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing is a family-owned and -operated business venture that sanctions and governs multiple auto racing sports events. It was founded by Bill France Sr. in 1947–48. As of 2009, the CEO for the company is Brian France, grandson of the late Bill France Sr...

-ready Super-Tempest and Super-Duty V-8 engines and introduced the long line of multi-carburetor equipped engines that saw Pontiac become a major player during the muscle car and pony car era of the 1960s. Interestingly, the enlarged 1956 Pontiac V8 found its way into light-duty GMC pickup trucks.

Pontiac's second generation V-8 engines shared numerous similarities, allowing many parts to interchange from its advent in 1959 to its demise in 1979. Sizes ranged from 265 cubic inch to 455 cubic inch. This similarity (except the 301 & 265) makes rebuilding these engines relatively easier. This feature also made it possible for Pontiac to invent the modern muscle car
Muscle car
Muscle car is a term used to refer to a variety of high-performance automobiles. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines muscle cars as "any of a group of American-made 2-door sports coupes with powerful engines designed for high-performance driving." Usually, a large V8 engine is fitted in a...

, by the relatively simple process of placing its second largest-displacement engine, the 389 cid, into its mid-size car, the Le Mans, creating the Pontiac GTO
Pontiac GTO
The Pontiac GTO is an automobile built by Pontiac Division of General Motors in the United States from 1964 to 1974, and by GM subsidiary Holden in Australia from 2004 to 2006. It is considered an innovative, and now classic muscle car of the 1960s and 1970s...

.

From their inception in the 1950s until the early 1970s, Pontiac engines were known for their performance. The largest engine was a massive 455 cubic inch V-8 that was available in most of their mid-size, full-size and sports car models. At the height of the horsepower era, Pontiac engines reached a powerful 390 rated horsepower (SAE gross), though other engines achieved considerably higher outputs in actuality. Federal emissions laws eventually brought the horsepower era to a close and resulted in a steady decline for Pontiac's engines. One holdout to this industry-wide slide was the Super Duty 455 engine of 1973-1974. Available only in the Firebird Formula and Trans Am models, this was rated at 310 hp net initially but after having issues passing EPA emissions tests, the camshaft was changed to the old RA III cam and with the change, came a 290 hp net rating. The engine was the pinnacle of Pontiac engine development and was a very strong performer that included a few race-specific features, such as provisions for dry-sump oiling. This engine and its legacy drive the SD Trans Ams and Formulas as one of the more, if not the most, desirable Pontiacs ever produced.

The only non-traditional Pontiac V-8 engines were the 301 cubic inch and the smaller displacement 265 cubic inch V-8s. Produced from 1977 through 1981, these engines had the distinction of being the last V-8s produced by Pontiac; GM merged its various brand's engines into one collectively shared group in 1980, entitled General Motors Powertrain. Interestingly, the 301 had a 4 inches (101.6 mm) bore and 3 inches (76.2 mm) stroke, identical to the vaunted Chevrolet small-block engine
Chevrolet Small-Block engine
The Chevrolet small-block engine is a series of automobile V8 engines built by the Chevrolet Division of General Motors using the same basic small engine block...

 and Ford Boss 302 engine
Ford Boss 302 engine
The Boss 302 engine is a high-performance small-block V8 from Ford Motor Company. It was a hybrid of small-block Ford V8s - It used the block of the small Ford Windsor engine and the heads of the larger Ford Cleveland engine...

.

Pontiac engines were not available in Canada, however, but were replaced with Chevrolet engines of similar size and power, resulting in such interesting and unusual (at least to American car fans) models as the Beaumont SD-396 with a Chevrolet big-block 396 cubic inch V-8.

Carburetors

PMD originally used Carter 1-barrel carburetor
Carburetor
A carburetor , carburettor, or carburetter is a device that blends air and fuel for an internal combustion engine. It is sometimes shortened to carb in North America and the United Kingdom....

s for many years, but by the time of the second generation V-8 engines had switched mostly to 2-barrel offerings. These also were the basis for the Tri-Power setups on the engines.

The Tri-Power setup included one center carburetor with idle control and two end carburetors that did not contribute until the throttle was opened more than half way. This was accomplished two ways, mechanically for the manual transmission
Manual transmission
A manual transmission, also known as a manual gearbox or standard transmission is a type of transmission used in motor vehicle applications...

 models, and via a vacuum-switch on the automatics. This went through various permutations before being banned by GM as a factory installed option in 1967, and totally in 1968.

PMD also had a square-bore 4-barrel at the time, but this was rated at a lower power than the Tri-Power. This carburetor was later replaced by the Quadrajet
Quadrajet
In automobile mechanics, the Quadrajet is a four-barrel carburetor made by the Rochester Products Division of GM that was widely used in General Motors motor vehicles until 1990...

, a spread bore. 'Spread-bore' refers to the difference in sizes between the primaries and secondaries.

By the end of the muscle car era, the QuadraJet setup had become the nearly ubiquitous choice on PMD engines, due to its excellent economy and power characteristics. While QuadraJets have been occasionally derided as being poor performers, with proper understanding and tuning it can compete at most levels with other designs short of the full race inspired set-ups such as the Holley Double-Pumpers, which incorporated accelerator pumps on the primary and secondary carburetor circuits.

This Q-jet design proved good enough to last 1990 (Oldsmobile V8 applications), with added computer controls in order to meet federal and CARB standards.

See also

  • :Category:Pontiac vehicles
  • Pontiac V8 engine
    Pontiac V8 engine
    Pontiac began as a adjunct to the Oakland division of the General Motors line of automobiles in 1926. Pontiac successfully competed against more expensive 4-cylinder models with their inline flathead 6 engines. After outselling Oakland, Pontiac became the sole survivor of the two by 1932. In...

  • Pontiac Straight-8 engine
    Pontiac Straight-8 engine
    The straight-8 was an eight-cylinder, in-line automobile engine that was used in production Pontiacs from 1933 to 1954. Introduced in the fall of 1932 for the 1933 models, it was Pontiac's most powerful engine at the time and was the least expensive eight-cylinder engine built by an American...

  • Pontiac Straight-6 engine
    Pontiac Straight-6 engine
    Like most American automobile manufacturers, Pontiac relied on the straight-6 design for their circa-World War II automobiles.-186:In the 1920s Oakland Motor Car engineers designed an all new engine for their "companion" make, the Pontiac, which was introduced in 1926. It was a side-valve design...

  • List of GM engines
  • Chief Pontiac
    Chief Pontiac
    Pontiac or Obwandiyag , was an Ottawa leader who became famous for his role in Pontiac's Rebellion , an American Indian struggle against the British military occupation of the Great Lakes region following the British victory in the French and Indian War. Historians disagree about Pontiac's...


External links


Further reading

  • Jim Wangers, Glory Days: When Horsepower and Passion Ruled Detroit, Bentley Publishers (October 1998), trade paperback: 348 pages, ISBN 0-8376-0208-4 ISBN 978-0-8376-0208-0 hardcover: 309 pages, ISBN 0-8376-0207-6 ISBN 978-0-8376-0207-3
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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