When GM originally announced their intentions for their brands, most of it made sense to me. Chevy was and always will be the bread and butter American car brand. Buick is too popular in China to sunset, and given the products, could fill an entry level luxury brand, allowing Cadillac to move upmarket to take on Mercedes-Benz head on. Keeping GMC seemed questionable, but if the market for premium trucks and SUVs ever returned, GM would be well prepared. Of course, Pontiac as a niche brand was a mighty fall for another iconic American make, but a brand of affordable, higher performance cars would finally fulfill the promise of the “excitement division”.
Then, in the middle of bankruptcy, GM announced Pontiac would be cut. I was flabbergasted. Worse, GM was shutting down Pontiac, not selling it like Saturn, Saab, Hummer, and Opel.
Of all the brands GM is shedding, Pontiac is the only one that was well-one it’s way back. The plastic clad monstrosities that soiled Pontiac’s reputation have been gone for years. The G8 and the Solstice are/were the most competitive cars made by GM in years. The G8 regularly is compared to BMW 550i. While the Solstice (R.I.P.) had it’s… errr.. quirks and wasn’t on par with the MX-5 Miata, there are many folks who will forego some convenience for style. With these two products, I would think Pontiac would be easy to sell. But who would be well set to take over the brand?
BMW! Buying Pontiac would give BMW an entry-level performance brand. The models could use last generation BMW platforms for the mid-size and intermediate cars, maintaining the integrity of the BMW brand, yet subsidizing the development cost with an entire line of products extending longer than the current 6-8 year cycle. Also, new small models based on the Mini platform, but styled like a Pontiac, would keep help keep BMWs only front wheel drive platform profitable.
But, BMW has no interest in an entry-level cars, right? Except for when it owned Rover/MG. The Rover experience, of course, was not a good one for BMW, except for MINI. I believe that is partially due to Rover having a different FWD platform that didn’t share any components, and directly competed with BMW own cars. Remaking Pontiac as affordable, entry-level BMWs would avoid a lot of these problems.
I’m probably a biased in my desire to keep Pontiac alive. My first car was a big-as-a-yacht 1978 Pontiac Bonneville with a 5.7L V8, that started life as a company car for my father. Honestly, that wasn’t much of a performance car, but I remember when my father bought that car… He wasn’t going to buy a Chevy Caprice, since that was an entry level car, but the Olds 88 and Buick LeSabre would have broken the budget. About 8 years later, he bought an ’86 Pontiac 6000. Again, Pontiac filled the bill. Even though all the A-cars were priced similar, the Pontiac styling and interior was a bit sportier in nature.
I guess I can only hope that GM is shutting the Pontiac brand down, instead of selling it, with the intent of resurrecting it in better times. I’m not holding my breath though.