Iconic Pontiac Brand Says Farewell


After 84 years, the Pontiac brand is dead.

In its lifetime, it produced iconic muscle cars like the GTO and starred in movies such as Smokey and the Bandit. In the final stages of its existence, the brand suffered from a lack of customer interest and its position within a troubled General Motors.

"They were C.P.R.-ing a corpse for a long time," Larry Kummer, who has owned more than two dozen Pontiacs and runs the Web sitePontiacRegistry.com, told The New York Times.

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GM advertised the car for "driving excitement." It was sportier than a Chevrolet but not as fancy as an Oldsmobile or Buick. The cars were recognizable for their split grille and red arrowhead emblem in the middle.

"When the muscle-car era was in its heyday, Pontiac was king," Frederick Perrine, a dealer in Cranbury, N.J., told the Times. "It put us through school. We were the house on the block that had the swimming pool growing up."

Still, for the younger generation, the Pontiac was a fusty relic, or worse the brand associated with much reviled Aztek small SUV.

By early 2009, Pontiac had fallen to 12th position in the U.S. market sales, from No. 3 in the 1960s. "They had a lot of glory years, but from the '70s on, Pontiac just couldn't meet the bar," Mr. Kummer told the Times. "It was always living in the past."