Pontiac has officially ceased to exist

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Pontiac GTO

Pontiac, the brand behind the epitome of the muscle car, the legendary GTO, has ceased to exist. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

After the end of the brand was announced last year, Pontiac has officially ceased to exist. The brand was jettisoned along with other under-performing brands under the GM banner. Other casualties included Hummer and Saturn, among others. Pontiac had more than 70 years of history.  The brand was especially well known for delivering classic muscle at reasonable prices.

Pontiac is no more

General Motors jettisoned the brands that weren’t performing well during its bankruptcy, including Pontiac. The brand had been suffering as of 2008, and GM decided to allow Pontiac to pass away. As of Sunday, Pontiac no longer exists as a corporate entity, according to USA Today. Brand enthusiasts long lamented what they considered to be a severe mishandling of the brand by General Motors, which was thought to simply field Chevrolet and Buick models in Pontiac trim. From the late 1950s into the 1980s, Pontiac was synonymous with raw horsepower, and many of the archetypes of muscle cars are indeed Pontiacs.

A storied history

Pontiac was launched in 1926 as a budget brand for working class families. By the 1950s, sales were struggling and General Motors decided it was time to rethink the brand. Pontiac cars became racing and performance driven creatures, and by 1965, GM had introduced the Pontiac GTO, one of the most legendary cars of all time, and the near epitome of Detroit muscle cars.  The GTO, or “Gran Turismo Omolagato,” was inspired by Italian sport tour cars. A small team, headed by John DeLorean, created the car, built it on the Tempest frame and put a powerful 389-cubic-inch engine under the hood. Sales shot through the roof, accounting for 17 percent of GM sales in 1968. Other successes, such as the powerful Pontiac Trans Am of the Firebird line followed, but the brand was shifted away from its horsepower focus by the 1980s.

The decline and fall

From the 1980s into the 2000s, Pontiac was no longer sold as a performance brand, and sales reflected it. As of 2008, fewer than 275,000 were selling annually. The demise of Pontiac marks an unfortunate end to a former legend.

Sources

USA Today

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