I still want a 1980 Daytona Pace car Trans Am...

By: Staff
Staff Writer
Published: Nov 2, 2010

Pontiac Ends Car Legacy After 84 Years
Pontiac ends car legacy. Owners of the GM Pontiac cars are sad after General Motors officially closes the brand for good. The car brand was around for 84 years and dealers were told today to take down the signs.

Pontiac 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 dealers expire.

Prior to GM's bankruptcy, Pontiac's sales had fallen. Their peak levels were in 1968 when the automaker released speedier models. Most of those cars were 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, the cars were taking off their muscle shirts, putting on suits and trying to act like other cars.

The decision was bad. The brand had lost its edge. Bill Hoglund, a retired GM executive who led the brand during its "We Build Excitement" ad campaigns in the 1980s, blames the brand's demise on a reorganization under CEO Roger Smith in 1984.

"There was no passion for the product," Hoglund said in a statement. "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 the cars that looked and drove like other GM cars. By 2008, the last full year before GM announced the end of the Pontiac, sales were 267,000, less than a third of those sold in 1968.