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The Sad Demise of Pontiac

The Sad Demise of Pontiac

Twelve years ago now, the Pontiac car brand was discontinued. After more than a century on the market, with success, it disappeared.

One of the many crises of capitalism, the one at the end of the first decade of this 21st century, shook (among others) the automotive industry, to the point that it changed the decoration of the automobile trade network in the world. The coup rocked the “Detroit Big Three”: Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors. All suffered losses.

General Motors,

which emerged thanks to US state aid (which bought 61% of its shares), lost 27,000 jobs, and many dealerships, and was only able to save four of its eight emblematic brands: Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, and GMC. He had no choice but to get rid of Saab, Hummer, Saturn, and Pontiac.

In this way, the automobile brand disappeared in the middle of the economic-commercial ups and downs of General Motors, after 103 years of producing its cars, many of which were very successful in the market. The end of Pontiac occurred on December 31, 2009. The last Pontiac to roll off the production line was a white G-6 model.

I started this chronicle at the end, but I will not finish without telling you the beginning. Back in 1893, Edward Murphy founded the Pontiac Company, a company dedicated to the manufacture of horse-drawn carriages. It is around this time that automobiles break into society and gain popularity, so Murphy decides to change business.

Thus, on August 28, 1907, he founded his new company: 

Oakland Motor Car Company, to build automobiles. Led by engineer A. Brush, Murphy produced the first two-cylinder Oakland (the name of the Michigan county where it was manufactured), which came out in 1908. And he didn't like it. Taking advantage of Murphy's failure, William Crapo Durant, who that year had founded the General Motors Corporation (GMC), bought shares in Oakland.

 In 1909, Edward Murphy passed away suddenly and Durant became the owner of the company, incorporating Oakland as a division of GMC. The Oakland is now a light car with a 4 or 6-cylinder engine. In 1925, without Durant, GMC reorganized and the Oakland brand became Pontiac, whose first model came out in 1926.

It is a six-cylinder car, cheap, so cheap that it could compete in price with the four-cylinder cars (even if it is bigger). From the beginning, it was very profitable, much more than the old Oaklands. Then, in 1932, after the financial crisis of 1929, GMC maneuvered and the Oakland Motors division ceased to exist to create the Pontiac Motors Company.

The Pontiacs were then more powerful,

including eight-cylinder and Torpedo body (formerly exclusive to Buick), with affordable prices. They sold very well, their sales increasing year on year: it was cheaper than Oldsmobile and slightly more expensive than Chevrolet. But the war came and the last one left on February 10, 1942.

After the war, Pontiac returned in 1949 with remodeled models with powerful engines and low prices. However, the post-war market also demanded some elegance and luxury touches, which Pontiac did not have. And in the 50s the brand began to evolve under the aegis of two engineers: Eliot Estes and John DeLorean.            

The results of this change can already be seen in the 1960s. Tempest came out in 1961, achieved resounding success, and thus became the 3rd best-selling brand that year in the United States. The following year, 1962, the Le Man's model was presented, in a sportier version. The successes are chained.

In 1964 they launched the now mythical Pontiac GTO, a sports car that began a new era in North American motorsports, that of Muscle Cars, which was affected in the 1970s by the Oil Crisis. Of the GTO, Pontiac calculated to sell some 5,000 units, however, at the end of that year 64, more than 32,000 were already rolling.  

Pontiac Firebird

In 1967 another powerful Muscle Car came out, the Pontiac Firebird, which was another triumph for the brand. In the middle of the oil crisis, when Muscle Cars (medium cars with powerful engines) stopped being manufactured, Pontiac continued producing them and managed to sell, in 1973, the astronomical figure of 854 thousand 343 vehicles. It was Pontiac's second-best year.

The 1980s were good for Pontiac as well, its big hit back then being the Fiero, a sporty mid-engined model, which came out in 1984. In 1988, the Pontiac brand is the third-largest producer of automobiles in the United States. He is as strong as his legendary Muscle Cars. But in the 90s it is not the same, not even similar. The decline begins.

The fall does not go unnoticed, for the 21st century its models are replaced, and, nevertheless, it is not enough. The “swan song” is given by Pontiac in 2006. The Solstice, a Roadster whose GXP version reaches 260 HP. Its sale, limited, was announced on a television program. They receive 1,000 requests in just 41 minutes. But there were no more successes. Pontiac disappeared.

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