Pontiac is a good automaker

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From the cheap variant to cult status - Pontiac through the ages
It looks almost inconspicuous, the narrow red arrowhead. An inconspicuous accessory for an eye-catching car - the Pontiac.

From gap filler to guarantee of success

The history of the Pontiac company is inextricably linked with that of the American auto industry. Introduced by General Motors in 1926, the brand served as a cheap alternative to the Oakland Motor Company's designs, filling an existing niche in the market. Pontiac, a city in Michigan near Detroit, served as the production facility. The first car was the Pontiac 6-27 Couch, called the Chief of the Sixes. This related on the one hand to the number of cylinders, but on the other hand to the namesake of the brand and the city, the Indian chief. The success was so overwhelming that Pontiac completely replaced Oakland just six years later.
In the years that followed, the company produced models for middle-class medium-sized businesses as part of the automobile manufacturer General Motors. But towards the end of the 1950s, the group undertook a restructuring, as a result of which Pontiac was established as a sports brand. A change of image was imminent, not least of which the logo fell victim. Until 1957, the profile of an Indian with a traditional headdress adorned the vehicles, but this was no longer perceived as being in keeping with the times. In order to achieve a sporty effect and, above all, to appeal to young customers, the red arrowhead known today, the so-called dart, was introduced.

Pontiac GTO - father of muscle cars

In America in the 1960s, a new fashion found its way into the auto industry: For medium-sized cars, the typical companions of family men, engines with ever larger displacements and greater power were designed and sold cheaply in order to appeal to a young customer base. These vehicles were later known as muscle cars.
From 1959 Pontiac adhered to the so-called wide-track principle, for which the brand became famous, when developing new sports cars. This increase in track width not only increased handling enormously, but also improved the appearance of the previously rather old-fashioned vehicles. The Pontiac GTO, released in 1964, is considered the first real muscle car and is therefore also known as the father of muscle cars. The abbreviation GTO stands for Gran Turismo Omologato, a name taken over from Ferrari. The GTO was originally developed by chief developer John DeLorean, who later founded the DeLorean Motor Company, as a more powerfully motorized variant of the mid-range Pontiac Tempest LeMans. However, since the GTO enjoyed enormous popularity within a very short time, it became an independent model. The very light car with a displacement of 6.3 l and a top speed of 200 km / h was ideal for quarter mile races, i.e. acceleration races over a distance of around 400 m.
The success story of the GTO lasted for ten years, during which Pontiac succeeded in firmly anchoring its sports cars in the minds of customers.

The oil crisis and its consequences

In the course of the 1973 and 1974 oil crisis, the auto industry was reoriented. The demand for large-engine vehicles collapsed and stricter emissions regulations required a reduction in engine power. For Pontiac, these changes were particularly difficult to manage, as the brand had produced sports cars for years. The downsizing of the engines triggered the introduction of models such as the Ventura or Sunbird, which often hardly differed from those of other brands in the group. The individuality of Pontiac was thus lost in the uniformity.
With the Fiero presented in 1983, Pontiac made another attempt to build on the success story of the GTO or Firebird with its own design. The design was borrowed from racing, so the body consisted of a skeleton of hollow steel elements that served as a carrier for plastic panels. But the sports car initially suffered from its weak engine and later faced strong competition from the Chevrolet Corvette and the Toyota MR2, against which it could not hold its own.

Pontiac Trans Sport - foray into the world of minivans

At the beginning of the 1990s, Pontiac finally broke away from the image of the sports brand. The Trans Sport should compete as a minivan with the market leader Chrysler. The construction method was adopted from the Fiero, but the design received different reactions. The very flat and long windshield gave the car the look of a handheld vacuum cleaner when viewed from the side, and the press gave it this nickname. The futuristic-looking vehicle did not meet the taste of the average American customer, but enjoyed great popularity in Europe. Nevertheless, the Trans Sport was not a sales success and was discontinued in 1996 after only six years of production.

The Pontiac Aztek - the combination of SUV and van

With the Aztek, Pontiac wanted to revolutionize the world of recreational automobiles from 2001. Designed as a crossover SUV, i.e. a vehicle with the typical SUV look but only limited off-road capability, the Aztek was intended for young customers with an active lifestyle. But even all sorts of technical gadgets, such as operating the music system from the trunk for trunk parties, could not prevent the car from becoming a flop. The design was probably responsible for this, because despite high maneuverability and a pleasant driving style, the car was voted the ugliest car of all time in various surveys. As a result, production was stopped again in 2005.

Pontiac Solstice - The first and last roadster

The Solstice, produced from 2005, was a great success and was declared Car of the Year 2006 in the USA. The highly praised design combined with a powerful engine made the roadster a coveted car. Despite the popularity of the Solstice and its even more powerfully motorized variant, the Solstice GXP, the Pontiac brand was discontinued after the group went bankrupt in 2010. This made the Solstice not only the first, but also the last roadster ever built by Pontiac.

Reception in film and television

Filmmakers repeatedly used the image that a certain Pontiac possessed to put their protagonists in the right light with the audience: In A Boiled Rascal, a Firebird TransAm Burt Reynolds serves as an escape vehicle, another, converted TransAm was named K.I.T.T. even a hero in the series Knight Rider. In the drama series Breaking Bad, on the other hand, the unpopular Aztek was used to underline the shortcomings of the protagonist. There are numerous other examples that demonstrate one thing in particular: the legacy of the Pontiac brand, which was an integral part of the American auto world for 84 years, remains.

History of the Pontiac Cars