GM Declares Plans For The Pontiac To Be Phased Out – 12/27/2009

US History |


There is a basic concept that applies to everything in the universe; there is a beginning and there is an ending. While this applies to all living things, those that are non-living must also adhere to this concept; especially if it is constructed by man. One example that is appropriate to this theme lies in the auto-industry as new innovations are created while prior ones cease to exist. General Motors (GM) had their own version of innovation decades ago with the birth of the Pontiac brand. However, on December 27th, 2009, the American auto giant GM in the midst of struggling to stay in business announces their plan to stop production of the Pontiac that was born eight decades ago.

The origin of the Pontiac dates back as far as to the year 1907, when the Oakland Motor Car was established in Pontiac, Michigan; the man responsible was a horse-drawn carriage manufacturer named Edward Murphy. Oakland would eventually become part of General Motors in 1909; this conglomerate was established the year prior by William Durant who was another former buggy company executive. During the 1920s, the original Pontiac model debuted as part of the line of Oakland. This vehicle’s engine was constructed having six cylinders and because it became so popular, the decision was made to drop Oakland from the name and Pontiac would now become its own GM division as the early 1930s began.

Although Pontiac originally was famous for constructing sedans, it had gained acclaim by the 1960s for their sporty and fast “muscle cars” that included the Trans Am, the GTO and the Firebird. Developed by auto industry maverick John DeLorean, the GTO was branded after a Ferrari coupe called the Gran Turismo Omologato. The New York Times stated, “More than any other G.M. brand, Pontiac stood for performance, speed and sex appeal.” Pontiacs would be seen in movies and on television such as in the 1977 movie “Smokey and the Bandit” in which a black Trans Am was driven by actor Burt Reynolds. Regarding television, one appeared in the 1980s acclaimed TV show “Knight Rider” which featured a Pontiac Trans AM known as KITT; the car was equipped with artificial intelligence while actor David Hasselhoff played crime fighter Michael Knight who drove the vehicle.

Pontiac sales had reached their peak by the mid 1980s. Some experts believed that in the 1970s and 1980s GM had damaged the brand of Pontiac by going with a strategy that would save money by having Pontiacs share platforms with vehicles from other divisions. Unfortunately, once known as the planet’s top-selling automaker since the 1930s, GM had finally lost their No. one position in 2008 to Japan-based Toyota. 

Adding salt to the wound during that same year, GM had no choice but to ask for assistance from the federal government for a loan in order to stay alive that was for multi-billion-dollars; their sales were declining as a global recession was happening. GM announced as part of their plan to reorganize on April 27th, 2009, would have their Pontiac brand phase out by 2010. Tragically, GM was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection just over a month later on June 1st; they had become the fourth-largest bankruptcy in the history of the United States.

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