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About PontiacPontiac has the only distinction as being the only companion or offspring brand in GM history to kill its parent. Born from the Oakland Motor Car Company and sold through their dealerships, Pontiacs sold incredibly fast. Debuting in 1926, the 500,000th car was built in June 1929. Oaklands were discontinued in 1932 amid flagging sales since Pontiac's inception, and because of the Great Depression.
That year a V8 was added to the lineup--they had only been six-cylinders since the founding. The V8 was expensive to produce, so the next year Pontiac went with straight-eights across the line. Production increased through the remainder of the decade, hitting a new company high in 1937 with 235,322 units sold. In 1940, the Torpedo was introduced, and the next year that was the only model in the lineup. Available in 11 different body styles, it pushed Pontiac production to new highs until the onset of WWII.
After... View more the war, like almost every American manufacturer, Pontiac continued producing pre-war models. The first new one appeared in 1949. The Cheiftain line was introduced to replace the aging Torpedo design. But an updated engine didn't appear until 1955, when a 287-ci V8 was introduced.
Work on a new line of cars began in 1956 when Bunkie Knudsen took over as Pontiac's General Manager. Assisted by an engineering team led by E.M. Estes and John DeLorean, the new cars started rolling out in 1959. The next six years featured the full-size "Wide-Track" design, which outran the competition in both sales and overall performance.
Perhaps the most definitive Pontiac is the GTO. Originally a performance package on the intermediate-size Tempest, it is often hailed as the first muscle car. After the corporate ban on official racing activities, Pontiac edged around a GM policy banning large engines in anything less than full-size by stuffing the 389-ci V8 into the Tempest. The most powerful GTO ever offered from the factory came in 1969 and 1970, with the 370-hp 400-ci Ram Air IV. Air-conditioning was not an option on these engines.
The Firebird and later Trans Am variant kept Pontiac as a player in the pony car market throughout the late '60s. Arguably the last original generation muscle car came from Pontiac as well; a SD-455 engine was available in 1973 and 1974. Production hit a high in 1979 with 211,454 Firebird variants, 117,108 of which were Trans Ams.
Pontiac continued offering badge-engineered variants throughout the '80s and '90s. An exception to this was the Fiero, a mid-engine sports coupe that ran from 1984 to 1988.
The GTO name was reborn in 2004 based on GM Australia's Holden Monaro. The reception was lukewarm at best. Conservative styling trumped the 350-hp V8 in 2004, and 400-hp V8 in '05 and '06. Total production reached 40,808 for all three years.
After GM agreed to government assistance in 2008, it announced that Pontiac would not be among the brands chosen to continue operations. The last American Pontiac rolled off the assembly line in November 2009. It was a 2010 G6. The last Pontiac-branded vehicle came from South Korea, a Pontiac G3 Wave, later that December. View less
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