Now history - My red 1990 Grand Prix – HUD
I always wanted a hot car. When it was time to trade in my 1980 Pontiac Grand Lemans station wagon it was not without reflecting on its fine performance. It was white with fake wood grain door paneling and had red leather interior with a red ceiling lining. I bought the car in Ohio to haul my growing family in style and comfort. We took it to Chicago and when it was time to relocate to Florida, we drove it all the way to Tampa, no problem
Then, the Tampa heat took its toll and several things happened: 1) the air conditioning went out and 2) the ceiling came unglued, and 3) the fake paneling began to come off the side of the car. Other than that, it was in excellent shape. So, I invested in getting the AC fixed and had the car painted, removing the wood grain. Now, I had a version of das boot.
Eventually, the Grand Le Mans bit the dust, and I bought a Pontiac Sunbird with a sun roof. The Sunbird was weird because the engine fan ran on purpose after the ignition was turned off as some sort of extra cooling feature, I guess. It also developed a quirky thing with the engine still running after the key was removed from the car. I had AC problems as well. This car was a lemon and I got rid of it. I swore, no more Pontiacs and went back to Toyota.
Then, after moving to Hermosa Beach, California, I wanted a hotter car. So, I purchased a 1990 red Pontiac Grand Prix with heads up display. I developed the sense of being a fighter pilot with my controls projected on the windshield. The car had a whopping engine and it was fast on LA freeways. It had a cool interior as well and a great sound system.
I used to play drums on my fancy steering wheel that held all of the controls to the car until one day the steering wheel caught on fire! There was an electrical short that resulted in a complicated repair job.
Boy, this car could move, however, as I sped around town. One day, I was moving out from a standing position and a large plume of blue smoke emitted from the tail pipe. I think I blew something and that required a valve job too.
Anyway, I had some fond esthetic moments with the red Grand Prix, but given my experience with the brand, it is probably better that it takes its place in the big garage in the sky.
“Pontiac Goes Out Of Business After 84 Years
By Tom Krisher, AP Auto Writer
Manufacturing.Net - November 01, 2010
DETROIT (AP) -- Pontiac, whose muscle cars drag-raced down boulevards, parked at drive-ins and roared across movie screens, is going out of business on Sunday.
The 84-year-old brand, moribund since General Motors decided to kill it last year as it collapsed into bankruptcy, had been in decline for years. It was undone by a combination of poor corporate strategy and changing driver tastes. On Oct. 31, GM's agreements with Pontiac dealers expire.
Even before GM's bankruptcy, Pontiac's sales had fallen from their peak of nearly one million in 1968, when the brand's speedier models were prized for their powerful engines and scowling grills.
At Pontiac's pinnacle, models like the GTO, Trans Am and Catalina 2+2 were packed with horsepower and sported colors like "Tiger Gold." Burt Reynolds and Sally Field fled the law in a Firebird Trans Am which raced through the 1970s hit movie "Smokey and the Bandit."
By the late 1980s, though, Pontiacs were taking off their muscle shirts, putting on suits and trying to act like other cars. The brand had lost its edge.
Bill Hoglund, a retired GM executive who led Pontiac during its "We Build Excitement" ad campaigns in the 1980s, blames the brand's demise on a reorganization under CEO Roger Smith in 1984. That overhaul cut costs by combining Pontiac's manufacturing, engineering and design operations with those of other GM brands.
"There was no passion for the product," says Hoglund. "The product had to fit what was going on in the corporate system."
Although the moves were necessary to fend off competition from Japanese automakers with lower costs, they yielded Pontiacs that looked and drove like other GM cars.
By 2008, the last full year before GM announced Pontiac's shutdown, sales were 267,000, less than a third of those sold in 1968.
Formed in 1926, Pontiac made cars for the working class until a sales slump in the 1950s nearly killed it. GM revived the brand by connecting it to auto racing. From then on, each Pontiac sales boom was driven by speed; each bust generally featured outdated or boring rides.
The brand's most storied muscle car, the GTO, came about when some GM engineers took a small car called the Tempest and put a powerful V8 engine under the hood. The letters stood for "Gran Turismo Omologato," Italian for "ready to race."
Sparked by the GTO, the Pontiac brand thrived, making up 17 percent of the 5.4 million cars and trucks GM sold in the U.S. in 1968. The GTO even spawned its own 1960s hit song.
"C'mon and turn it on, wind it up, blow it out GTO," was the chorus of the tune by Ronny and the Daytonas.
Pontiac's decline stemmed from a lack of a consistent strategy or leadership. Executives rotated through every few years on their way up the corporate ladder, each with a different vision. Some even tried to make Pontiac a luxury brand.
One strategy that eventually hurt the brand was rebadging: putting the guts of less powerful GM cars inside the skins of Pontiacs.
Big economic shifts also damaged the brand. Two gas spikes in the 1970s steered Americans toward smaller cars with more fuel-efficient engines, areas dominated by Japanese automakers in the U.S.”