Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

Goodnight, Pontiac

It’s Sunday night, probably the last night before the news becomes official.

Pontiac, the fabled auto nameplate of General Motors, is going to join Oldsmobile in the pantheon of dead names.

We like to think that there’s some stability to old auto makes, but as someone who has read both “The Complete National Georgraphic” and “The Complete New Yorker” (the latter to late 1946), it’s a reality that many, many nameplates and auto manufacturers have gone away.

From the early 1930s to 1946, lots of makes and nameplates fell by the wayside, especially during the Depression years. Goodness had nothing to do with it.

For example, one of GM’s makes between 1909 and 1931, according to Wikipedia, was Oakland.

According to the site:

Pontiac was the first of the companion marques introduced, and in its first year outsold the larger, heavier Oakland. By 1929, GM sold 163,000-plus more Pontiacs than Oaklands. The discontinuation of Oakland was announced in 1931 and the Pontiac would be the only one of General Motors’ companion makes to survive beyond 1940, or to survive its “parent” make.

And now it’s Pontiac’s turn to go.

I only owned one Pontiac, my red 1987 Firebird. It was a nice car that served me well. I traded it in for a Saturn in 1993, and when I bought my 2007 Mustang in December of 2007, it was like buying a Firebird all over again because it’s such a hot-looking car with a V6.

But the fact that car names are retired is no comfort to the Pontiac dealers who will have no product to sell or the owners who own “orphan” cars. True, no doubt GM will support the cars with parts and warranties, but this is another end of an era.

Goodnight, Pontiac. You will be missed.


April 27, 2009 - Posted by | Living in the modern age | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Very sad to see these historical automakers go down. The worry about the warranties/parts is bad too, especially with the economy. At least GM is still there, and let’s hope everything turns around!!!

    Comment by Mustang Cobra | May 11, 2009 | Reply

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