Pontiac was another one of GM‘s marques that were sacrificed for the greater good of the automaker. When a financial crisis loomed, GM had to consolidate and cut down on the marques it had. Pontiac went down in 2010, after an 85-year-old existence, just years after GM has also folded Oldsmobile for the same reasons.
The Pontiac legacy still carries on, in the best cars it made and in the classics people lust for. Even after 11 years of the marque being defunct. This is, after all, the house of the GTO and the Trans Am, amongst other cool cars. And even now, many Pontiac classics hold on to their value, much like the GTO Judge that can sell for an easy six figures, given the rarity of the make or model.
So here’s remembering Pontiac, with a pinch of salt, with five of its bestsellers and five Pontiac cars that no one bought.
10 No One Bought: Pontiac Grand Ville
Marketing can make or kill a product in a jiffy. Take the case of the Pontiac Grand Ville that sounded very grand and had plenty of hauteur, in looks at least. Pontiac tagged it as “don’t even consider it unless you have a taste of luxury”. So buyers took it to heart and didn’t consider the car, although we are not quite sure why.
It could have been a victim of the malaise era, or simply unnecessarily aggressive marketing that ticked off the consumers. Either way, the Grand Ville was a Pontiac car that no one bought.
9 Sold Like Hotcakes: Pontiac Firebird & Trans Am
The Firebird was as spunky as its name, and it came stylish and fast for most of its life. It was also one of the last of muscle Pontiac cars to go down the strangled horsepower way, trying its best to keep its head above water with as much power as it could.
movies like Smokey and the Bandit and TV series like Knight Rider that featured KITT made the Pontiac Firebird sell in loads, even after the malaise era ended. There are plenty of these classics that can be grabbed for cheap for lots of cheap thrills.
8th No One Bought: Pontiac Astre
When Pontiac launched the Astre, they went all out with body styles and so it was a hatchback, a coupe, a wagon, and even a van. It looked a lot like the Chevy Vega but bore a better if even more powerless engine that gave it certain longevity, if not thrills.
Later, they even brought in the Iron Duke engine which made sense for a passenger car like the Astre but is most harangued for being in the Camaro! Still, all Pontiac cars born out of the malaise era did nothing but bomb and that’s what happened to the Astre.
7 Sold Like Hotcakes: Pontiac GTO
Do we need to say anything about the GOAT? As in the greatest of all Pontiac cars that took the muscle car game and flipped it on its head? Launched in 1964, the GTO owned the muscle car market till the Mustang came along. And then Chevy also launched the Camaro, creating in-house cannibalism in the market.
Later, the Pontiac GTO Judge also came to play, inspired by the success of the bare-assed Plymouth Roadrunner, and sold well till the malaise era came and took muscle cars down and out.
6 No One Bought: Pontiac Aztek
Never, in the history of all cars, what such an ugly car made. The Pontiac Aztek truly looked like a sedan mashed on top of an SUV, even though it was Pontiac’s first official family hauler. Along with being bad-looking, it was also lazy in design, performance, and overall thought.
It rode on tiny wheels and had so much plastic cladding, it was weighed down. Plus, it had a minivan chassis so it was also a big fail as far as SUVs are concerned. The Aztek created waves but only the wrong kind and had gone down as the ugliest of all Pontiac cars.
5 Sold Like Hotcakes: Pontiac Bonneville
The Bonneville started its life in the ’50s and turned into Pontiac’s longest surviving nameplate, lasting till 2005. It was mostly the most prestigious and fanciest of all Pontiac models, at least till the muscle car era began. Even then, it managed to carve its own identity, even though it remained largely less-than-special in the last two decades of its life.
But such was the Bonneville legacy and the fact that it always came with just enough power that it sold well for most of its life. And even now, there are plenty of takers for these classic Pontiac cars.
4 No One Bought: Pontiac torrent
Er, the Pontiac who? The unknown torrent was Pontiac’s entry in the rather competitive crossover SUV market and was a rebadged Chevy Equinox. But the thought process of the torrent was similar to that of the Aztek. In that, it was also overloaded with plastic, inside and out.
Thankfully, it was not as ugly as its older and by-now defunct brother but its looks did not lend to its popularity. Which was non-existent, to begin with. The end years of the Pontiac did not go down kindly and made for some big Pontiac car fails.
3 Sold Like Hotcakes: Pontiac Catalina
The Catalina was one of the powerful Pontiac cars, even though it preceded the muscle car craze. It was another big Pontiac but with better styling and came with superb V8 power. The styling was more upscale, much like the Chryslers of its time.
Initially, the Catalina nameplate was a trim of the Chieftain and DeLuxe lines, denoting hardtop models. Later, it turned into a separate line of its own and sold like hotcakes for most of its life before letting the muscle cars take the lead.
2 No One Bought: Pontiac Solstice
What will the Solstice, a beautiful sports car from Pontiac be best remembered for? Not being a Corvette, that’s what. It was higher priced, rolled out with late deliveries and while it was a stunning thing to look at, its ride was missing the oomph factor.
Had Pontiac stuck around, perhaps they could have taken the Solstice to near-‘Vette levels. But because Pontiac was at its end, they culled the Solstice even before it could take off before killing off itself as a marque.
1 Sold Like Hotcakes: Pontiac Ventura
The Ventura shared its wheelbase with the Catalina and was rather chic in looks and on the inside. It came bearing “Morrokide” which as Pontiac speak for vinyl upholstery that looked like leather. This was also the car the GTO came to be based on. Considering the canvas has to be good for beautiful art, the Ventura was a solid, solid car that led to the greater success of the GTO.
That said; even as a Ventura, this Pontiac car, now a classic, sold in hordes. And even now, it can be a good classic addition to just about any garage. Except for the malaise of Ventura, that is.
Sources: Hagerty, CBS News