Pontiac was a remarkable member of the niche brands history of General Motors in the early 1900s. GM introduced the Pontiac in 1926 as the less expensive cousin of its Oakland line. But by 1933, it had replaced Oakland altogether.
Upstart Made Good
The Pontiac car brand drew its name from the city of Pontiac, Michigan, which itself came from the Odawa war chief, Pontiac. The first Pontiac, the Series 6-27, was a six-cylinder car that cost less than the Oakland Six. The Pontiac was an immediate success, and by 1931 it had outsold the Oakland. In that year, GM discontinued the Oakland brand and made Pontiac a full-fledged division.
The GM Price-Point Hierarchy
Here is a list of General Motors brands in ascending order of price point by 1930:
Oakland (discontinued in 1931)
LaSalle (discontinued in 1940)
Here is a brief overview of each brand:
Chevrolet: Chevrolet was the entry-level brand for General Motors. It had affordable prices and basic styling.
Pontiac: Pontiac was positioned above Chevrolet in the GM lineup. It was famous for its sporty styling and performance.
Oakland: Oakland was the mid-range brand for General Motors. It had a comfortable ride and luxurious appointments.
Oldsmobile: Oldsmobile was a premium brand for General Motors. It was famous for its innovative engineering and advanced features.
LaSalle: LaSalle was a luxury brand that ranked above Oldsmobile. It had elegant styling and high-quality materials.
Cadillac: Cadillac was the flagship brand for General Motors. It was famous for its exclusivity and luxury.
These brands helped General Motors to become the dominant automaker in the United States in the early 20th century.
Pontiac Had Muscle
In the 1950s, Pontiac was synonymous for performance cars, such as the GTO, Firebird, and Trans Am. These cars had powerful V8 engines and featured stylish designs. They helped to make Pontiac a popular brand among young people and car enthusiasts.
Pontiac produced a wide range of cars over the years, but some of its most popular models include:
Le Mans: Sporting scaled-down hints of fins from the 1950s, the Pontiac Tempest Le Mans also had a more compact grill. It was simply sleeker than its predecessors, and it could really get up and go. I got to use my father’s 1963 Le Mans in my early dating career. Much appreciation to my dear departed Dad!
GTO: The GTO came out in 1964 as a high-performance muscle car. It had a powerful V8 engine and featured a stylish design. The GTO was a popular car among young people and car enthusiasts. It helped make Pontiac a trendy brand.
Firebird: The Firebird appeared in 1967 as a companion car to the Chevrolet Camaro. It was available as a coupe or convertible, and also had a variety of V8 engines. The Firebird was a popular car among young people and car enthusiasts, and it lasted for 35 years.
Trans Am: The Trans Am came out in 1969 as a high-performance version of the Firebird. It also had a powerful V8 engine and featured a distinctive shaker hood scoop. The Trans Am was a popular car among young people and car enthusiasts, and it was produced for 30 years.
Pontiac was distinguished from other General Motors brands by its sporty styling and performance. Pontiac cars were often equipped with powerful V8 engines and featured stylish designs. They were popular among young people and car enthusiasts. Pontiac cars were often limited in production, which made them more exclusive than other General Motors brands.
Abandoning Muscle for Economy
In the 1970s, Pontiac’s popularity began to decline as the company faced increased competition from Japanese automakers. The company also struggled to adapt to changing consumer tastes. Pontiac’s cars were known for their sporty styling and performance, but these attributes were no longer as popular with consumers as they once were. In the 2000s, consumers were increasingly looking for cars that were fuel-efficient and comfortable, rather than sporty and performance-oriented.
Pontiac’s sales had been declining for several years prior to its discontinuation. In 2009, the company sold just over 160,000 cars, down from over 300,000 in 2000. In 2009, GM announced that it would be phasing out the Pontiac brand. The last Pontiac car, a G8 sedan, rolled off the assembly line in 2010.
- Year Started: 1926
- Year Ended: 2010
- Origin Of Name: City of the Factory
- Location Sales: Worldwide
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: General Motors
- Owner While In Use: General Motors
- Owner Successor: N/A
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: Cadillac CT5
- Naics Code: 336110
- Location Headquarters: Detroit, Michigan USA