Goodbye Little Red Machine

GM has announced plans to discontinue the Pontiac line…

1971 Pontiac Firebird Big Block

1971 Pontiac Firebird Big Block

BT’s first new, new car was a Firebird, almost exactly like this one. The only difference was it had a white Vinyl top… And a 400 CI engine hidden under the hood, all for…

$3200 with taxes and tags.

Have a cousin, who got a ’75 Dodge 340 Duster…

Dodge Duster 340

Dodge Duster 340

Which despite the difference in engines could blow my doors in a straight up drag race. I had purchased the Firebird with a couple of extras – the first being a 2.88 rear end, meaning it wasn’t a drag car (which would have been a 4.11 or higher ration rear end)…

But the top end was north of 150 mph…

If the car didn’t fall apart under you.

In the days of the “Rich Corinthian leather” of the early 70’s, American car manufacturers were making cars of lousy quality – and dealerships treated their customers like isht.

When this little car wasn’t broken… It was in the shop getting fixed. The Mag wheels were only slightly less delicate than plastic, the A/C quit faithfully every Memorial Day – for which they couldn’t find parts to fix until September…

Despite all this, I put in some extensive under the hood mods…

And along with my Dad, bought one for my mom in 1973.

Who says the American public aren’t gluttons for punishment?

Anyway… Pontiac…

Goodbye old friend.

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5 Responses

  1. Until recently (as in within the past few years maybe?), pretty much anything you could get in Pontiac form was avaialble as a Chevy:

    Yesterday:

    Firbird = Camaro

    Grand Am = Impala (Remember, those old Grand Ams were much bigger back then.)

    Even the Bonneville was a pretty recent luxury-style sedan. I think it’s only recently that they decided focus more on a sporty theme… but you can get a Camaro and a Vette from Chevy now, and the competition for small sporty cars is far steeper than it was a few years ago…

    My point being that I’ll miss the Pontica too, but GM maybe making a good choice.

  2. GM has made a lot of good moves since the “Bad Old Days”.

    The problem is they’ve never been able (or willing) to fully cut the string on their old market – 4 door passenger sedans which rode like boats. Nor have they been willing or able to produce enough product differentiation between brands that consumers might look at a Chevy sedan as a competitor to Toyota, a Pontiac as a competitor to the mid sporty Euro and Japanese Sedans, or the Caddy as a reasonable competitor to Mercedes.

    The Corvette is as good as “supercars” costing 3x as much. The Pontiac G-6/GTO was a pocket rocket – which utterly ignored the ONE thing GM beat anyone on…

    Sheet Metal finery. Look at a ’65 Goat – and you will know what I mean.

    If they could put a “Body by Fisher” on a Japanese frame…

    GM would own the world.

    Saturn was the beginning of a great idea, which they left stillborn.

    And I won’t even get into the SUV and truck thing.

  3. I have to agree with you 100% about the US vs. Foriegn (sp?) perceptions of quality between the brands. I have a freind who buys old BMWs from the south, repairs them, and sells them. Couldn’t possibly do that with old US made cars, at least motbeasily or cheaply. BMWs were percieved as premium because they really were. My friend spends very little to get those old cars running again. (I’d really like to buy one from him next year…)

  4. …and I agree that GM has corrected some previous mistakes. Unfortunately, it’s too little too late. They severly underestimated the competition… An easy assesment for me to make after the fact.

  5. They’ve tried everything with reforming American corporations – except what was needed.

    They have blamed the unions, the workers, and when all else fails…

    The CEO.

    There is almost never a redo of mid and senior people, which is where the decisions are made. To change an organization’s inertia – you have to change it’s soul…

    Nobody wants to fess up to that, because it’s ugly, expensive, and difficult.

    GM has never succeeded in transforming it’s culture.

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