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An elegy for Pontiac

By Claes Bell ·
Monday, November 1, 2010
Posted: 4 pm ET

As of yesterday, the Pontiac brand of cars is officially dead. That's because on Oct. 31, Pontiac dealership agreements expired and all existing unsold Pontiacs officially became used cars in GM's eyes, according to the Detroit News.

If you're a Pontiac owner, don't panic. GM dealers will continue honoring warranties and offering maintenance services on existing Pontiac vehicles. If you're in the market for one of the last new/used Pontiacs still sitting on dealers' lots, you can expect a pretty good deal; orphan cars usually come cheaper than similar cars from brands that are still alive.

A 1970 Pontiac GTO at auction in Las Vegas (photo by Stephen Foskett)

A 1970 Pontiac GTO at auction in Las Vegas (photo by Stephen Foskett)

While I didn't weep much for Mercury, which Ford announced it is phasing out earlier this year, I do have to admit to a bit of sadness about the passing of Pontiac.

When I saw my first GTO in person, I could barely believe it was a Pontiac. Having grown up around '80s Pontiacs like the dowdy 6000 and my friend's boxy Parisienne station wagon, it was hard to believe that 1970 GTO was a product of the same brand. Sure, Pontiac still had the Firebird, but that rebadged Camaro was only a sliver of the great performance-car brand that once was.

That 1970 GTO is still one of my favorite muscle cars of all time -- for those unfamiliar with the car, witness its greatness in the opening scene of "Dazed and Confused" -- but I think GM made the right decision. As a company that was in imminent danger of liquidation just a little over a year ago, it didn't have the luxury of spending millions maintaining a brand that had long since lost all cache thanks to cars like the rebadged Daewoo hatchback sold as the Pontiac LeMans in the '80s.

In a way, it's almost better the brand is being put to rest; those great old Pontiacs of yore that will exist forever in gearhead Valhalla -- the '60s and '70s GTOs, the '50s Bonnevilles, the '60s 2+2s and others --  will no longer be tarnished by modern-day siblings that often failed to live up to that storied name.

As for Pontiac owners, I don't think this is going to do any favors for your resale value. The sad thing is, in its latter years, anyone who bought a Pontiac couldn't have been doing so on the assumption they would get a good deal if they sold it -- the brand was that diminished.

What do you think? Will you miss Pontiac? Any Pontiac models that were close to your heart?

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David Tuschhoff
November 09, 2010 at 2:22 pm

I'm also a proud owner of a 2009 G8-GT and while it was sad to see Pontiac close down, it does mean this car will stay rare. IMO, it's one of the best cars GM has offered in a long time. It has such a different feel from their past offering. Power, styling, the sportiness....

Stephen Foskett
November 02, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Thanks for this writing, and for the attribution on my photo!

Claes Bell
November 01, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Chris, I'd say you're right on about the G8, and it's a major exception to the rule about modern Pontiacs. Actually, Car and Driver named it one of the "10 Orphan Cars to Drive Before You Die," so you're in good company there.

Chris Ward
November 01, 2010 at 7:36 pm

I purchased a 2009 Pontiac G8 GT last year and I love it. It is a great car and it fits not only my need but also my family's needs. As far as the statement about the resale values from recent Pontiac's I do not believe that this is the case. There were only 1,829 G8 GXP versions made. As it was only made for one year. I have not seen the values of these take a hit.