Breaking News... Pontiac Is Coming BACK!
GM is on a comeback, folks. They almost pulled the sheet over this mega company a couple of years ago, but now there's revitalization and growth. Even the empty GM Assembly Plant near me in Spring Hill, Tennessee, formerly known as the Saturn plant, is revving up to build the Chevy Equinox (The Saturn VUE and Chevy Traverse have previously been built there), as well as a vehicle that hasn't been announced yet.
But the excitement about the return of Pontiac is overwhelming. And though this bombshell has not been announced publicly yet, I recently had the chance to talk with an "insider/consultant" from the plant that wishes to remain anonymous for obvious reasons... let's call him "Mr. X." The information he gave me was surprising to say the least, and the plan is so simple that it just seems so "right."
All I can say about him is that he's British, and it reflects in his words. And for what it's worth, "CL" is/are my initials, and does not stand for "Car Lust," though I guess it could. So after a while (And a few beers!), our conversation soon turned into something of an interview; this is pretty much how it went:
CL: Wait a minute... I am both shocked and amazed. GM is bringing back Pontiac!?!?
Mr. X: GM is growing again. They had to eliminate those divisions to survive. But now the loans are being paid off, GM is making money again, there's room to grow, and the void at GM is the lack of an exciting, affordable brand.
CL: Ummm... what cars will become Pontiacs... rebadged Chevrolets?
Mr. X: No. But obviously they can't tool up from scratch to launch an entire division, so Holden will supply most of the cars initially, but not all of them. GM/Holden has enough excellent vehicles already in the pipeline for the "new" Pontiac, so they won't be clones of existing American GM cars... remember that's been done, and it was done rather poorly.
There will be four unbelievably good models for the launch... the Bonneville, the Firebird, a small sports coupe/roadster, and something really rather unique.
CL: A Bonneville?
Mr. X: Yes, the new Bonneville will be the next- generation Commodore. Or perhaps rather more correctly, the next-generation Commodore will become the new Bonneville. So basically it will once again be a G8. But the pathetic "G" nomenclature is gone. They want to get back to Pontiac's roots and use traditional American names. Can you see the Firebird being called the G7? Rubbish!
Mr. X: Yes. Though it will be a similar car to the Camaro... but hasn't it always been?
CL: I noticed there's no compact car mentioned. Seems that's a big money maker and a hole in the lineup. Will there be something like the G3?
Mr. X: Please don't say that name, that execution went so quite badly wrong. But to answer your question, that's a crowded segment right now. There's the Civic, the Cruze, the Fusion, the Toyota Corolla... all superb cars... but they don't want to enter that segment without something really unique and good. So as soon as this comeback is formally announced, work will start on an astonishing all-new world-class versatile compact architecture... think Transit Connect meets BMW's 3-Series.
CL: Now that's BIG news!
Mr. X: Yes it is. The platform will be rear-wheel-drive with a proper fully-independant rear suspension. It's really a tremendous step forward for GM, and will be the basis for almost every GM compact car and truck. As a matter of fact, all new Pontiacs will be rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive vehicles.
Mr. X: Well, the Smart Roadster Brabus is the first choice, and it may be called the Firefly. The car has been looking for a new home for years, possibly even to be sold in a division within a division, and that's how Pontiac will initially return. GM's done that before with some success with Opel and Geo as you recall, so this should come as no shock.
CL: Who will sell the new Pontiacs?
Mr. X: Buick. The GM powers-that-be see the proper recipe of Buick's formality, contrasted by Pontiac's "excitement" image, as a superlative balance for that division. But once the marque is firmly reestablished, say five or six years, then Pontiac will stand alone.
Mr. X: GM was within just days of announcing the Commodore Ute for sale in the States just before Pontiac was axed. Now they are finally going to get to do it. Brilliantly, it shares many components with the new Bonneville. And yes, it should become the El Camino after Pontiac sells it for two years. But first, they want the thrill to be all for Pontiac.
CL: And what would Pontiac name something like that?
Mr. X: Quite possibly the "Star Chief." They still own the rights to that name.
CL: After the excitement of Pontiac's return wears off, what will they do to keep the image level up?
CL: Will there eventually be an image/racing-type car for Pontiac to sell?
Mr. X: Have you ever heard of a Pontiac Grand Prix?
I felt that I had spent enough time discussing the return of Pontiac with the gentleman, so subject matter turned to other things. But I could not wait to get to a keyboard and start this post. Days were spent getting it in order, and finally when I looked at the calendar, it was time to reveal that this is the first day of the fourth month, so now I must tell everybody... "April Fools!"
--That Car Guy (Chuck)
Image credits: The Pontiac logo is from AViewOfTheC.files.wordpress.com. The Bonneville wagon image is a Wikipedia image, reversed. The Pontiac Firebird image is from WebZoom.FreeWebs.com. The Firefly image is from Wikipedia. The Star Chief image is from Wikipedia. Pontiac's Racing logo is from WebZoom.FreeWebs.com.