Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Chief Pontiac Dies a Second Death

I've never owned a Pontiac car. My brother had a 1969 Pontiac GTO, which he graciously let me drive a few times. Great car! During the many car searches I've experienced, I've answered a few ads for Pontiacs, and almost bought a couple of them, but never actually owned one.

A good friend, the Kosmik Kid suggested that this week's news deserved comment. Though I've had a mixed opinion of the line over the years, he's right.

The Pontiac brand began after the Pontiac Spring & Wagon Works Merged with Oakland Motor Company in 1908. General Motors acquired Oakland in 1909, and built Pontiacs as a companion line with Oakland. Pontiac became an economy six-cylinder which eventually outsold the Oakland. Oakland was eventually dropped.

Pontiac shared many parts with other GM lines (mostly Chevrolet), but mostly used its own running gear.

The Pontiacs I admire most include the post WWII years through the 1960's. Pontiacs had the distinctive trademarks that had reference to the American Indian. Model lines, the Chief the Cheiftain, Star Chief and the Firebird (I'll refrain from comment on the awful Aztek), were blended with Torpedo, Streamliner, Bonneville, Catalina, the Tempest and the GTO. After that, I lose track.

After the first demise of the Pontiac GTO, I (kind of deliberately) gave up on Pontiacs, except for the Firebird. The newer models of Pontiac mostly became re-trimmed Chevys and further became very generic in look and performance. A couple of recent exceptions are the new Grand Am and GTO, with GM's small-block V8.

The long, slow skid to oblivion began with GM's unforgivable caving to outrageous union demands, and its failure to resist unConstitutional edicts from the federal bureaucracy.

GM is on the brink of corporate death. As it stands, it would be better if it reorganized under bankruptcy but, in the effort to keep the union thugs and corporate top management intact, GM has decided to saddle the American taxpayer with its liabilities. The evil socialist who has assumed the office of Head of State, tail-waggingly following his predecessor, is aiding GM in this effort.

In the effort to appease Washington dictators, part of GM's plan to steal billions from Americans is to streamline its operations by dropping one of its marques: Pontiac.

Too bad. This is a small part of the reason why I eschew buying a new car. The car I drove prior to my current 1957 Chevy, was a 1975 Oldsmobile. Oldsmobiles were dropped from GM's list a few years ago.

Farewell, Chief. I'll miss you!

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,
Col. Hogan


Chatelaine said...

Both my brothers had GTOs. They LOVED those cars. I used to get in trouble for even thinking of riding my tricycle too close to them in the driveway.

T. F. Stern said...

GTO carried with it the idea of it being the ultimate muscle car; maybe they were right. That car was awesome.

My kids drove an old beater Grand Am which we supplied them in high school. They paid the insurance, gas and oil. When it got wrecked, not their fault by the way, it was totaled out and they started riding the city bus. That was one piece of crap; but it got down the road well enough for a couple of years.

The Wine Commonsewer said...

I see the Kos laid the guilt trip on you too. :-)

The Wine Commonsewer said...

I was mad about my 22 year old 9th grade English teacher and when she gave me a ride home one day in her '66 Pontiac Catalina (pale yellow convertible) it was almost as big a thrill as if she had invited me to spend the weekend with her on Balboa Island where she lived.

She later married some ski guy on the slopes of Grenoble and broke my heart.

Now she's somebody's grandma.

All things must pass.

Glen Litsinger said...

Thanks for the great blog post, Wayne. The GTO was the best muscle car of the 60's, imo. My friend Tony's dad bought him a brand new purple '65 ragtop when it hit the showroom in fall of '64. It was an automatic (that wuss!) but it was a sweet ride; and talk about a chick magnet!

Today we say goodbye to Chrysler, too, for all intents and purposes. How fitting is it that it's being taken over, essentially, by an outfit named Fiat? But all the Fiat money in the world won't Fix It Again, Tony.


Col. Hogan said...

Lady C,

Your brothers were right!

Col. Hogan said...


The ones I liked had the image of Chief Pontiac as a hood ornament. Some of them lit up with the parking lights. The "skunk stripes" were also unique to the older Pontiacs.

Col. Hogan said...


An Acquaintance of mine has a '67 Tempest convertible--stock outside but with GTO running gear--for sale for $21k.

I wish I had the money right now. It's a great looking car! And, it's not gray!

Col. Hogan said...


TWC would say that Chrysler died when the Dog-Faced Boy made the deal with the devil +/-20 years ago.

I actually thought it was kind of cool that they came out with the Viper, the V10 motor and the new hemi. I suspect those days are drawing to a close now, though.

Glen Litsinger said...

Col. Hogan, I'm guessing you mean the deal Iacocca made with Devil gummint. The original bailout. Serves'im right to see his old company flame out, I guess.

I wonder how viable Ford really is. My family was Ford all the way, a loyalty that cost me a lot of street cred in the muscle car era. I remember that Ford had a big-ass 427 block but the cars were never that hot. Don't know why. Maybe someone here can enlighten me. I was always interested, but as things turned out (draft, drugs, marriage, job) never really got into cars the way I wanted to.

Col. Hogan said...


That's the one. I was in a hurry when I wrote that, and I couldn't recall Iacocca's name or how long ago was that bailout.

I've never cared for Fords, though their trucks have great reps. Thing is, whenever somebody hot rods an old Ford, they almost always put a Chevy motor in it. You have to wonder why that is.....

Glen Litsinger said...

Ford always did = Fix Or Repair Daily. But now Ford is the pseudo capitalist hero. Does that equate to Rearden? Been a long time since I read Atlas Shrugged.

Anonymous said...

A lot of car companies are in trouble in this recession. How things change so fast eh. Only a year or so ago they were talking about breaking records of new cars sold, now they're breaking records at how little they're selling.

Enjoy the memories.

Col. Hogan said...


Yeah, the fault lies with government for their confiscatory taxation and nonsense regulations--and the union thugs whose outrageous demands (which management should never have granted) have put manufacturers in heavy debt.

A big problem is that auto manufacturers aren't being operated by auto makers any more. They're being run by marketers and lawyers.

Since when can one of those drones actually build anything?

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