Maybe now Bob Lutz has learned a lesson about making promises he can’t keep. It wasn’t that long ago when the high-ranking GM official talked to Automobile Magazine and all but guaranteed that the Pontiac G8 would be spared from the chopping blocks and be re-christened as the Chevrolet Caprice.
Lutz’ declaration was met with raised eyebrows, especially those coming from GM CEO Fritz Henderson who previously said that the G8 – and all subsequent Pontiac models – would cease to exist by the end of the year. Turns out that Lutz may have bitten off more than he could chew and in a recent entry on GM’s blog took back his proclamations and said that upon further review, the supposed G8-turned-Caprice wouldn’t make too much sense given the unstable state of the US auto industry.
We have just received a real gem into our Top Speed test fleet. The once endangered and now recently saved Pontiac G8 is an excellent performance sedan. The stylish sedan came from the land down under where the Australians prefer their race cars with a V8 up front and four doors all around. It was this rear wheel drive formula that made the G8 such a hit when it originally debuted with either V6 or V8 power. However this is no ordinary G8, this is the high performance GXP version , a model that combines the fun of rear wheel drive, the power of an LS3 and the control of a six speed manual and is said to compete with much higher priced sports cars like the BMW M5.
Our Sport Red Metallic car rides on a set of stylish 19 inch polished aluminum rims that when combined with the oversized Brembo brake calipers, bears a striking resemblance to the Cadillac CTS-V. Aside from the impressive rolling stock the exterior of our G8 GXP looks just like any other of the four door imports from Queensland. The only other features that hint at the outstanding performance under the bonnet are the pair of sport inspired hood scoops and a set of reasonably flared fenders. Apart from the cleared out taillight lenses and the aforementioned details, there is no other way to tell this hot rod G8 apart from any other of Pontiac’s rear wheel drive grocery getters.
The Onyx interior is about the same as a base Pontiac G8 except that the aluminum sport pedals and GXP logos embroidered into the backrests of the leather wrapped front sport buckets hint at something special. That sensation is further reinforced by the Corvette-like shifter. The grip is connected to a six speed manual that sends 402 HP and 402 lb-ft of torque from the 6.2 Liter V8 through a limited slip differential directly to the rear wheels. The G8 GXP should be good for a 0 to 60 MPH time of about 4.7 seconds and a quarter mile time of 13.0 seconds flat.
The sad demise of Pontiac is a true American tragedy, not just because the brand is associated with everything that is American, but because it could’ve been salvaged if it’s parent company, General Motors, was in a strong financial position.
Unfortunately, the economic crisis laid waste to the auto industry and obviously, there were some casualties, with Pontiac being one of them. It’s a pity because the brand was on the verge of coming out with a number of vehicles that could’ve easily been successful if there was just enough support given to them. One of the vehicles that Pontiac launched amid much fanfare was the G8 Sports Truck , which was unveiled at the 2008 New York Auto Show.
Pontiac had stirred up excitement with a marketing program that asked consumers to name the future the Americanized version of the popular Holden Ute from GM Australia. The doomed automaker had a few fun offerings in the works, but just couldn’t get them into showrooms fast enough. What could have been had General Motors had more time and financial resources?
For those who know their American car history, they would know that the name ‘Pontiac’ is synonymous to ‘American original’.
For over 80 years, Pontiac has been responsible for producing some of the most iconic vehicles in the US, responsible for the likes of the Bonneville, the GTO, the Grand-Am, and the Firebird. But while Pontiac has enjoyed a remarkable run, spanning generations of Americans, the road has finally come to an end for Pontiac.
And as soon as the last production Pontiac vehicle - thePontiac Solstice – rolls out of the plant, Pontiac’s doors will now forever be closed.
The American muscle car tuner Hurst is preparing a High Output version of the Pontiac G8 and a G6 convertible. The special edition edition GM cars will be limited to a total of 52 units, each one being built by hand.
The H.O. Pontiacs will each recieve their own numbered identification and will feature Hurst’s iconic white/gold and black/gold paint scheme along with a set of forged alloy Hurst wheels, a supercharged engine, high performance suspension mods, a specially trimmed interior and of course a Hurst shifter.
The aftermarket manufacturer will also commemorate Gerorge Hurst’s partner, the Doc, by recreating a modern interpritation of his famous Pace Cars. Only ten HURST/Pontiac G6 convertibles will be built and used as parade and special event vehicles, we couldn’t think of any better duty for a HURST modified muscle car.
The whirlwind of activity surrounding General Motors these days appears to be far from over. The latest piece of news we’ve heard is that GM is discontinuing the Pontiac Vibe , two weeks after it said that it had plans of continuing the car through next year.
It wasn’t that long ago when GM said that of all the Pontiac cars earmarked for 2010 releases, only the Vibe and the G6 would be rolled out with the G6 specifically earmarked only to fleet customers.
Now, it appears that the Vibe won’t even make to September as GM has just confirmed that production of the Vibe will finish this August, with poor sales – down 35% through May – being largely attributed as the culprit regarding the Vibe’s untimely demise.
If there is one car that has to be considered as the Godfather of American muscle cars, no vehicle can make a better case than the 1967 Pontiac GTO.
Conceptualized by the dynamic trio of Russell Gee, Bill Collins and John De Lorean, the GTO rose into prominence for creating a car that paved the way for future muscle cars to grow somewhat of a cult following among the speed-induced, thrill-seeking youth market of the 70’s. While the car is universally lauded these days as a true American icon, it actually was developed in the mold of a Pontiac Tempest, the difference being the GTO – which incidentally was named by De Lorean as a tribute to the Ferrari 250 GTO – included a 389 CID (6.5L) Pontiac V8 engine, as opposed to the 326 CID (5.3L) standard Tempest V8. Despite drawing criticism for the use of the ‘GTO’ tag, which in Italian stands for, Gran Turismo Omologato, Pontiac went ahead and put the car in its production line with modest expectations. Suffice to say, Pontiac had no idea the car would hit over to the market so much that it has since become a classic masterpiece, and a cultural icon to boot.
As the end draws near for one of America’s most iconic cars, the Fairfield County Concours d’Elegance is doing its part to ensure that Pontiac does not ride off into the sunset in relative anonymity. As such, the organization is arranging a two-day extravaganza to celebrate the irrepressible legacy of the car that has captured the imagination of America in its 83-year run.
The two-day event will be held on September 12 and 13 at the Fairfield County Concours d’Elegance in Westport, Connecticut. The main thrust of the event is to pay homage to the Pontiac Brand through a wide-ranging display of the most significant and iconic Pontiac models in history.
Now that Pontiac has fallen by the wayside , Firebird fanatics are left with a gaping hole in their collections. But don’t worry, because American Specialty Cars is offering a complete package that rebody’s the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro , transforming it into what should have been the 2010 Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am.
RIP Pontiac. General Motors announced today that Pontiac will not live to see its 85th birthday.
GM’s original plans for Pontiac were for it to become a niche brand under its new viability plan. Now the cuts have gone deeper, and Pontiac is completely cut off. All fans of GM’s performance division can do now is hope for a revival sometime in the future.
This will be a quick death. GM announced “The Pontiac brand will be phased out by the end of 2010”, which is the equivalent of a fire sale in the automotive world. But Pontiac is not the only one to be hurried out the door. The revised plan moves up the “resolution” of Saab, Saturn, and Hummer to the end of 2009, “at the latest”.
There is no word about if any of Pontiac’s car will be absorbed into other lines. The only cars that are unique to Pontiac in the U.S. are the G8 and Vibe . Disposing of the G8 should be as easy a stopping the boats from Australia , but the Vibe, which is joint venture with Toyota, may be harder to untangle.