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The Top 10 Reasons Why Pontiac is Being Killed Off

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  • The Top 10 Reasons Why Pontiac is Being Killed Off

    http://www.bangshift.com/blog/The-To...illed-Off.html

  • #2
    Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why Pontiac is Being Killed Off

    Guy sounds like an armchair quarterback. Mentioning the Aztek was just a juvenile pot-shot. I get my "back room" news from DeLorenzo.

    Honestly, I blame Lutz.

    The guy is an egomaniacal fossil out of touch with the every day consumer. The G8 was just too late to save the division. If they'd have taken the "excluse performance" tack two years earlier, they could have pulled if off but it would have been advertising/marketing intensive and that's cash GM doesn't have right now for any division that doesn't sell itself, like chevy and cadillac.

    Imagine a line up like:

    -G6 & GXP

    -G8 & GT

    -Firebird & Trans-Am (over the top!)

    -Solstice and GXP

    -Some kind of performance themed hybrid sedan and coupe.

    Ditch the SUVs and crossovers and you have a whole line up of cars you'd be proud to drop off at the valet station instead of hiding it in the back with all the other soccer mom mobiles.

    Ahhh... what could have been.


    Cheap, slow, half-assed: Pick three

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why Pontiac is Being Killed Off

      Brennan's only partially right. Here's an abbreviated alternative hypothesis from the Truth With Speedzzter blog:

      10. GM Politics -- Protect the Corvette. Delorean, Estes, Knudsen and Co were often "shut down" in their attempts to remake Pontiac into GM's performance division by the politics of protecting the 'Vette. The original Bonneville was a two seater. So was the Banshee. Only the Corvette could have multiple carbs after '66, killing the legendary GTO "Tri-Power" system. The Fiero was hamstrung with weak engines out of fear that a high performance model would hurt the 'Vette.

      9. Performance Malaise -- After the insurance companies and the government killed Pontiac's 1960s business model, Pontiac floundered in coping with the new, low-performance reality of the 1970s. Instead of building smaller, lighter high-performance cars, GM forced Pontiac into building some of its most overweight and underperforming cars (which were badge engineered as Mr. Berman observes) since the flathead Straight 8 days. These cars haunted Pontiac's brand image for decades.

      8. Design Malaise -- Co-extensive with PMD's performance malaise was the stagnation in design that gripped Pontiac. Corporate downsizing lead to a series of boxy models that looked like the shipping crates for the swoopy Pontiacs of the 1960s. Moreover, Pontiac stayed too long with the Colonnade/neo-classic styling initially championed by the '70s Grand Prixs (before they were disasterously replaced by the horrible, FWD GM10s)

      7. Leaving NASCAR -- Every GM division that has left NASCAR racing, save Buick has ended up dead. Coincidence?

      6. The GM Racing Ban -- The real death of Pontiac started in February 1963 when the GM board killed Pontiac's Super Duty aspirations in the infamous racing ban. The ban sent folks like Mickey Thompson and David Pearson into the arms of rivals. The ban dried up most high performance development of the Pontiac V8. The ban left Pontiac coasting on the inertia of the Super Duty era throughout the entire lifespan of the original GTO, up to the point where it became the fat, bloated, "old Elvis" cartoon of itself featured in "Two-Lane Blacktop." Pontiac's forced withdrawal from racing made the brand flabby. When it returned in the 1980s, its race cars were too far removed from anything it offered to the general public.

      5. Three decades without a GTO -- Nowhere is GM's mismanagement of Pontiac more salient than the decades spent without a GTO. When the going got tough in 1974, GM politics and Pontiac's failure to adapt killed the Goat. And even as Buick was making headlines with the turbocharged Grand National/Type T Regal, Pontiac soldiered on with the freakish 150 h.p. Chevy-powered Pontiac 2+2 (a car which rivals the Aztek for ungainly styling). However, the idea of a practical, good handling, exciting-to-drive muscle car has never lost currency. The 2004-2006 GTO was simply too little, too late.

      4. The slow death of the Firebird -- The Firebird was a good idea. But GM simply didn't keep it current enough. Each generation hung on too long. The innovative OHC 6 was killed not long before it would have been a huge help to PMD during the gas-crisis '70s. Each generation after the first was or became too heavy and inefficient. The quality of the latter generations was horrible. The 301 Turbo Trans Am was shockingly underdeveloped and killed off before it could be refined into a Grand National-killing supercar. The CAFE "two fleets" rule forced GM to build the F-Bodies in Canada, alienating some U.S. customers. By 2002, the Firebird simply was too impractical and dated. As other have proven, the Pony Car concept remains viable, but Pontiac simply forgot how to build them.

      3. Front wheel drive -- GM's insistence on Wrong Wheel Drive in its sedans and coupes was anathema to Pontiac's sporting pretensions. While the Bonneville, Grand Prix and others soldiered on for decades with archaic two-valve pushrod sixes and hamstrung with FWD, they were not attractive for brand-building grassroots motorsports activities. While PMD attempted to offer sporty FWDs with the 6000 STE and various Sunbird/Sunfires, Pontiac had nothing competitive for the emerging sport compact and sports sedan niches until it was way too late.

      2. The Iron Duke -- Possibly the most antediluvian engine of its time, the wheezing pushrod, two-valve Iron Duke four was the antithesis of Pontiac's performance image. It is emblematic of GM's short-sighted, penny-pinching ways. It was the boat anchor that held down Fiero. It regularly burst into flames in Fieros as well. It's lack of attractiveness and weak bottom end drove scores of sport compact tuners to higher tech Japanese cars, depriving Pontiac of another generation of customers.

      1. Death of the real Pontiac V8 -- The modern soul of Pontiac was cut out in 1981 when GM forced Pontiac to use Chevrolet engines. Brand loyalty plummeted. The one thing that made sporting Pontiacs unique was lost forever. Everything that happened after that point was simply rearranging the chairs on the Titanic.

      Postscript: Carroll Shelby once said (paraphrased) "It the car's bad, the name won't help it. If the car's good, the name won't matter." While Pontiac failed to leverage its proud model name heritage in recent time, the real problem was its failure for decades to build modern, high-performing, quality cars that lived up to its 1960s brand persona.

      [url][http://speedzzter.blogspot.com/2009/...nt-to-jim.html

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why Pontiac is Being Killed Off

        You could replace "Pontiac" with "Oldsmobile" in Brennan's article and come up with the same conclusion.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why Pontiac is Being Killed Off

          If they'd used the "Iron Duke" instead of the Vega motor a lot more people would have been buying GM cars through the rest of the century.

          For me, Pontiac ate it due to confusing names/brand engineering, and...

          "Body cladding". Taking one painted-metal body panel then sticking a rounded, loose, huge, wavy thing of painted plastic over that just says "stupid" to me. End of taking car seriously. Year after year of that, and who cared what a Pontiac was anymore. Obviously GM didn't.
          ...

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why Pontiac is Being Killed Off

            The article is incredibly poorly constructed and the logic is frankly amazingly shallow.

            Most of the items in the article really target "GM" and not "Pontiac". By that I mean, many of the issues he raises were actually issues across multiple brands - including surviving brands such as Chevy. A recent editorial by Jim Wangers where he actually names people personally responsible for the slow but inevitable death of Pontiac was recently published. He really hammers a whole bunch of people, and points out detailed root causes and where blame should be directed. Of course, this is all in addition to the general GM inefficiencies, cost problems, etc. I'm talking about why in comparison to Chevy, Buick, etc Pontiac was killed. If you know my current project, you know this is an even more painful cut to me.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why Pontiac is Being Killed Off

              Wagners is the man. Guys like him and Delorean who were stylish, alpha males were building cars they'd be proud to drive but the bean counters kept reigning those guys in.

              Frankly, as bad as they ever got with body cladding, nothing was ever as ugly as any fwd monte-carlos, and the 3rd and 4th gen firebirds were orders of magnitude more attractive than their counterparts across the isle.

              I don't think design was ever the issue and lack of quality wasn't endemic to pontiac only. The best point brought up was that the generation they lost to tuners than now buy acuras instead of G8s.

              Pontiac was the only division that was for the guy who wore a blue collar shirt, albeit a fitted one.

              Probably a tiny tiny demographic in the new age of Walmart consumers.
              Cheap, slow, half-assed: Pick three

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why Pontiac is Being Killed Off

                Where might we find that Wangers piece?

                It's true this is all GM, not "Pontiac" per-se. Since they had once done such a good job of making a Pontiac seem like a Pontiac, us old guys still think of it as it's own corporation...

                Remember the '78 A-bodies? The Malibu, Monte Carlo, Regal, bestseller Cutlass, and the, uh, Grand Prix all had their own distinctive sheet metal and identity. (No one mistook the Firebird for a Camaro either, outside or in.) Boatloads of imports were crowding the docks, Chrysler was sliding into the mud and Ford had taken a couple real wrong turns with the Mustang (which they would slowly fix) but GM stood with that lineup of cars from a single platform that kicked everybody's butt for years. The last great moment of product glory for GM? The nineties B-bodies, the dolled-up Suburbans, putting the Corvette at the level it belonged...all good, smaller moves, none of which benefitted Pontiac much. When Trans-Ams got Chevy engines only, it kinda buried their own "halo" car.
                ...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why Pontiac is Being Killed Off

                  lutz is a car guy , the messiah is not

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why Pontiac is Being Killed Off

                    Originally posted by Loren
                    Where might we find that Wangers piece?
                    Here's a link to it: http://www.bentleypublishers.com/pon...ry-3307-8.html

                    BTW, another point is that the OP article (the one by Brennan) also has some pretty serious errors in it in terms of facts. For example, the description of the original plan for the Fiero. Brennan is completely incorrect and misrepresents what happened between concept and execution. Pontiac did NOT intend for it to be a bottom end people mover using only the cheapest components. Using low cost existing components from other models was just the only way GM would allow the concept to move forward. In the case of the Fiero, it was poor decision making in execution that destroyed a great concept.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why Pontiac is Being Killed Off

                      Originally posted by SpiderGearsMan
                      lutz is a car guy , the messiah is not
                      Lutz is a wine and cheese car guy, an american muslce car guy he is not.

                      Everyone put this halo on the old coot but I don't see anything he's ever done right.

                      The GTO and XR4TI cars are both huge public failures that were directly his fault. He may have a basement full of neat stuff but the guy was a moron when it came to understanding and marketing to the US consumer.
                      Cheap, slow, half-assed: Pick three

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why Pontiac is Being Killed Off

                        . Design Malaise -- Co-extensive with PMD's performance malaise was the stagnation in design that gripped Pontiac. Corporate downsizing lead to a series of boxy models that looked like the shipping crates for the swoopy Pontiacs of the 1960s. Moreover, Pontiac stayed too long with the Colonnade/neo-classic styling initially championed by the '70s Grand Prixs (before they were disasterously replaced by the horrible, FWD GM10s


                        Nope,disagree,Those Grand Prix's and all the G-body's were great looking well liked cars that would still do well
                        today ,there was no reason to turn them into the FWD turds that they became.Pontiac's were all pretty nice until the FWD revolution.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why Pontiac is Being Killed Off

                          Here's a little sample of the Wangers article.

                          " Board Member John Smale, sometimes known as the "Toothpaste King" because of his previous Proctor and Gamble experience decimated the entire GM marketing department by exclaiming that, "You guys are all wrong, people don"t care which end drives the car, they only want to know how good they"re going to look and feel in it." With his new hand-picked marketing czar Ron Zarella, fresh from the Eyeglass Business, they started on a dedicated effort to hire outsiders who proudly knew nothing about the automobile business. "

                          You'll be pissed by the time you're done reading it. He makes a remark about missing an opportunity with the supercharged GTP, I drove one of those when it was perhaps six years old and was impressed as hell. Damn body "cladding" though.
                          ...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why Pontiac is Being Killed Off

                            I gotta read the Wagner's article. Sounds right on they money.

                            Forgive me for letting my marketing goon show but people may not directly care which end drives the car but they do care what their buddy who KNOWS cars thinks. Early adopters (trend setters) are instrumental in establishing a product's place in the market. That's why cosmetics companies send unlimited samples to movie stars and why the lace back driving glove magazines have fleets of new cars to test and HotRod has NONE.

                            I'd point to Honda and BMW as examples as cars built by car guys, for car guys, that the general populace has latched on to because of what guys like us think. Both are actively enganged in racing, both have strong brand identitiy, not because of the hoards of accords and 3 series cars putting around on roads but because of the engineering trickle down that ends up in their cars from halo and up market cars (M cars and Type Rs etc). Those companies realize that the word of mouth from the M5 buyer is the guy that influences the purchasing decision of countless other BMW buyers.

                            GM had that in the 60's and lost it in the early 70's (except for pontiac who had the only aspirational cars in the dark decade). The special models we all know and love like the Grand Nationals, ZR1s, Typhoons, Turbo GTAs etc are evidence that the old guard of car guys was alive but on it's way out in the 80's and early 90's.

                            I can't explain how the fourth gen f body happened. Probably one of the most gorgeous cars ever produced with legendary performance but the rest of the line was completely lack-luster and in reality, is the Skynrd tatoo'ed mullet firebird guy the early adopter you want the public to think of when they emotionally consider your brand?

                            Building cars is a delicate business but the most advanced activity mankind engages in (IMO), part engineering, part art, and part marketing.

                            I think pontiac turned the corner, but turned it too late and without the full support of corporate.

                            It's a symptom of America's fixation on "next quarter's numbers." As a nation, we're incapable of making long term decisions. In politics, business, everything... I'm not saying it's a bad thing but it's something that the foreign companies don't suffer from. They can follow fads faster, hell, half the time they're creating them, while GM won't even consider ad agencies that arent' based in Detroit. Yet when it comes time to change direction, the foreign car companies dont' just re-skin the platform, the re-tool their entire manufacturing base.

                            The big shame is that GM will get it's act together, but Pontiac won't be on the other side of the storm when it was the division that was closest to "getting it right" in my opinion.
                            Cheap, slow, half-assed: Pick three

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why Pontiac is Being Killed Off

                              Originally posted by ponchoman
                              The article is incredibly poorly constructed and the logic is frankly amazingly shallow.

                              Most of the items in the article really target "GM" and not "Pontiac". By that I mean, many of the issues he raises were actually issues across multiple brands - including surviving brands such as Chevy. A recent editorial by Jim Wangers where he actually names people personally responsible for the slow but inevitable death of Pontiac was recently published. He really hammers a whole bunch of people, and points out detailed root causes and where blame should be directed. Of course, this is all in addition to the general GM inefficiencies, cost problems, etc. I'm talking about why in comparison to Chevy, Buick, etc Pontiac was killed. If you know my current project, you know this is an even more painful cut to me.
                              How much freedom did Pontiac, or any other GM division, have to do stuff on their own? Pontiac's downfall was not just a Pontiac failure, but a GM failure. Sure some of the Pontiac stuff was terrible (Aztec comes to mind) but were such decisions totally Pontiac's fault or were they pushed into that kind of stuff by GM management (or mismanagement)?

                              Comment

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