Sunday, October 31, 2010

This is the end, beautiful friend, the end...

Generic Motors' Excitement Division officially flatlined today, although they'd pulled the feeding tube out last year, back when GM became Glorious People's Red Banner Automotive Plant #5.

It was kind of sad.

I've owned three Pontiacs: A '70 GTO, an '84 Firebird Trans Am, and an '86 Fiero 2M6 SE. All three were fun cars, but there was no doubt that by the '80s Pontiac had largely lost its way, becoming mostly just badge-engineered GM products with a lot of wings, fake scoops, and bulgy ridged plastic body cladding that looked like it had been dreamed up by hormonal high school boys during study hall.

Oh, sure, there was the occasional standout, like the 6000 STE of the early '80s, or the late-'80s Bonneville SSE, and there was always the perennial Firebird, but it didn't make up for flubs like the Aztek or the Trans Sport *hawwk... spit!* minivan-fer-gossake.

It was kind of sad because, there in the last model year or two, Pontiac showed signs of emerging from the wilderness. The Australian-sourced G8 sedan was one of the most vicious four-doors ever offered in America. And the new Solstice roadster was genuinely interesting; everything that the public was led to believe the Fiero would be, except it actually delivered.

But with the US auto industry in a tailspin, it was too little, and too late.

At least they saved Cadillac. Here's something I never thought I'd say in all my years of being interested in fast cars: There are some genuinely badass rides coming from Cadillac these days.


(H/T to TJIC.)

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

"There are some genuinely badass rides coming from Cadillac these days."

If you are used to driving golf carts, wearing black socks, eating dinner at 4:30 and live in Florida, yes, Cadillac is very exciting.

But what about those of us under 82?

Shootin' Buddy

genedunn said...

Tam,

I was deeply saddened to hear of the massive head injury you suffered that led, ultimately, to you owning and admitting ownership of a Fiero. I am very glad to hear you have (mostly) recovered... with the admission of ownership the only lingering symptom. Keep up the rehab!

Nathan said...

Shoot, I have a friend who says he still wishes he could have his Fiero back all these years after the wreck that purt'near tore it in two. (He walked away unscathed.)

He's still my friend, because my momma always taught me to take care of the feebleminded. :)

og said...

In 1984, I ran a little mom-and-pop advertizing agency. I just did sales and operations, I was NOT one of the creative types. the 6000 STE was my company car.

You're the first person I have known who seemed to like it. It was one of the reasons I left the company.

Tam said...

SB,

Yeah, because every golf-card drivin' Floridian wants a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 pumping out 556 horsepower with a sports suspension that'll bend time and knock his dentures loose when he hits a pothole.

And that's not even counting the Cadollac XLR, which is just a 'Vette with a different body...

Keads said...

The Aztek was proof that GM could once again take ownership of one automotive discipline. That of course being designing butt ugly stuff.

I have a 1967 Caddie; I will never forgive GM for dropping the ducks from the Cadillac emblem!

Tam said...

Alas, the ducks were poisoned by the godawful Catera ad campaign. :(

Darrell said...

'68 GTO here, 400 4 speed, dark metallic green w/white interior. I loved that car...

Sevesteen said...

The badge engineering could have worked, if GM had done it right--same basic platform tuned significantly differently per division--and no mid-sized Buicks with pushrod 4 engines.

Tam said...

Og,

"the 6000 STE was my company car.

You're the first person I have known who seemed to like it.
"

Oh, in the grand scheme of things, it was no great shakes. It suffered from all the reliability and durability problems of its GM A-body kin.

However, it was the only domestic family 4-door bus being offered at the time that made any concessions to the fact that someone might take pleasure in the act of driving. It was delightfully devoid of plastic "chrome". It could be ordered with a (for the time) potent 2.8 V6 and with suspension and steering that was biased towards handling rather than soporific compliance. Compared to its Chevy Celebrity and Buick Century stablemates, it was downright sporty, and frequently finished mid-pack in contemporary road tests versus Euro and Japanese competitors. It showed that somebody in the bowels of GM was at least trying in those dark days, despite the skimpy raw material they were given to work with...

Brock Townsend said...

I raced against many a Goat in my '65 Hi-Po. May they rest in peace.

drjim said...

Geeezzz..."The Trans Sport Van".
I always thought the the white ones looked like a giant DustBuster coming down the road!

bluntobject said...

SB--

You made me cry. The Caddy CTS was pwning the 'vettes and 996s of the Speed World Challenge series well before the rest of us knew it was cool.

And now we have a CTS-V sportwagon. It's like a threesome on wheels. RWD sporty chassis + sportwagon body + LS9 = pardon me, I need to change my trousers.

Cadillac has a lot of Landau top years for which to make up. But, y'know... the CTS did it a while ago.

Bram said...

When I was a kid I always liked riding in my Dad's mid-70's Grand Prix. Gigantic engine and body, tiny interior, and floaty suspension. I knew even back then that the car made no sense but that made it fun.

As for today's Government Motors, Caddy can introduce a flying car for 5 grand and I wouldn't buy it.

PQ said...

'85 Firebird.
The best car I ever owned or am ever likely to again.

Defined "muscle car".

JimB said...

Tam,
Pontiac.... Had 3.... Never had a good one. I'm glad you has success with yours. Mine turned me into a Ford man.

Tam said...

JimB,

Pontiac batted about .667 in my book. I had no real problems with the GTO. The T/A was about what you'd expect; with over 100k on the clock, the t-tops leaked, it squeaked and rattled, and a lot of the little bits had given up the ghost, but the basic Chevy small block ad TurboHydro slushbox was sound. The Fiero was fun... when it wasn't suffering from untraceable ignition maladies, which eventually resulted in its sale.

Gewehr98 said...

And yet Buick continues to exist, their blue-haired owners making life interesting on the Interstate every day.

Bummer about Pontiac. I was looking forwards to the debut of the proposed G8-ST El-Camino/GTO hybrid.

http://www.leftlanenews.com/pontiac-g8-st.html

Tam said...

Apparently a billion screaming Chinamen have decided that Buick is the It Car to have for gawd only knows what mysterious oriental reason.

No doubt GM is tickled pink to have a positive income flow someplace.

og said...

The 6000 did at least have moderate road manners in that it didn't "wallow" like the other rides in it's stable. I guess when you've driven decent cars, the 6000 just wasn't that impressive. hell, my very-nearly-stock Escrote could out-everything it, and today it's just a joke.

I concur on the Cattleracks, they're impressive rides-the problem being that Detroit can't make a car whose fancy electronics continue to function long past the 75,000 mile mark. They'll still be a nice car, but after 8 years it'll be someone's mill ride, which is kind of a shame.

Shame, actually about yaks because there were rumors of a retro Firebird that would have really ressurected the line.

Stretch said...

The Wench had an '78 T/A in full Smoky livery. There are STILL Florida State troopers who want to chat with her.
I had a Grand-Am and a Phoenix. Test drove a Fiero 2M6 but at 6'6" it was not a realistic ride for me.
Dad is on his 5th Caddy. And after taking one over the Appalachians I fell in love with the Northstar V8.

Anonymous said...

1987 Firebird, 5.0L w/slushbox. Two engines. Flowmaster cat-back exhaust. LOTS of fun but a financial disaster for me.

Loved it! RIP Pontiac.
Ulises from CA

HTRN said...

"Apparently a billion screaming Chinamen have decided that Buick is the It Car to have for gawd only knows what mysterious oriental reason."

I can think of one reason - it's #3 on JD Powers warranty claims list - the two companies that beat it are both Japanese(Toyota and Honda, #1 & 2 respectively), which the Chinese still harbor a great dislike for.

John B said...

I have had 3 1969 Cadillac Devilles. Those landau tops someone referred to. Out of the lot, they could take the Police Crown Vic. After I tightened things up, and in one case switched out a Rochester for a racing Holley, The Crown Vics couldn't touch it after that.

I wish I had any one of those guys right now.