Pontiac, the brand named after the famous chief of the Ottawa who led an unsuccessful rebellion against the British, will endure a lonely death on Sunday (10/31/10) after about 40 million in sales.
It was 84 years old.
During its lifetime Pontiac invented the GTO* muscle car under its flamboyant engineer John Z. DeLorean, helped Burt Reynolds elude Sheriff Justice in “Smokey and the Bandit” and taught baby boomers to salivate over horsepower, but produced mostly forgettable cars for their children.
The cause of death was in dispute. Fans said Pontiac’s wounds were self-inflicted, while General Motors blamed a terminal illness contracted during last year’s bankruptcy. Pontiac built its last car nearly a year ago, but the official end was set for Oct. 31, when G.M.’s agreements with Pontiac dealers expire. The New York Times.
*The GTO has a legendary pedigree of its own. The name was stolen from what many consider the greatest Ferrari of them all, the 250 GTO. Those three vaunted letters stood for “Gran Turismo Omologato,” which translated means “Grand Touring Homologation.” In other words, the Ferrari GTO was produced only so that Ferrari could race in a “production” GT class, which the GTO dominated. Naturally, the Ferraristi were up in arms about an American carmaker giving a midsize coupe with no pedigree the same name as their legendary sports car.
Jokesters of the day claimed that GTO stood for “Gas, Tires, Oil”, all of which both the Pontiac and the Ferrari used in large quantities. Fans and owners of the Pontiac GTO proudly call their favorite car a “Goat” and label their meetings as a “Gathering of the Goats”.