2009 was a hard year for General Motors with the shuttering of Saab, Hummer, and Saturn following the economic crash of 2008 and the subsequent bailout, bankruptcy, and restructuring of the company. Today, however, marks the anniversary of the biggest loss of the 2009 General rebuild. Pontiac, after 93 years being a fixture in the Michigan automotive landscape, was unceremoniously murdered with a swift swing of the axe.
The last Pontiac-badged cars to run off the assembly line were a run of 100 G6 sedans on November 25th, 2009. The brand’s final days were writ in history with a live stream on April 27th. Ten years ago.
Pontiac was a great and storied brand that, with the help of John Z. Delorean, kicked off the muscle car revolution of the 1960s. With great nameplates like LeMans, Sunbird, and Grand Am, it’s a surprise that this brand could die such a death. Seriously, though, Pontiac sold Grand Ams to nearly every American in the nation, and that’s a serious feat in and of itself.
GM has a history of getting Pontiac to a really good place and then dumping it into the gutter. Perhaps the most prominent example of this is when Pontiac revamped the Fiero to be a pretty competent car with the 1988 Fiero GT right before GM killed it entirely. Doing the best they could with what they had was a Pontiac way of life. By 2009 the company had some pretty enticing product in the G5, G6, G8, Solstice, and a revamped NUMMI-built Vibe. Then it was gone.
My first car was a Pontiac Grand Prix that my mother leased brand new, my aunt purchased off-lease, and my parents gifted me for my 16th birthday. It was several hundred thousand miles into its life and on its third engine, but I adored it. Right up until I smashed it headlong into a tree, just days before my 17th birthday. My then-girlfriend-now-wife named if Fifi.
Pontiac, we still miss you.