Pontiac history: TOP 7 interesting facts

Pontiac history: TOP 7 interesting facts
12 min read

An article about the history of the Pontiac brand: the formation, rise and fall of an automobile company, interesting models. At the end of the article - a video about the Pontiac FireBird. An article about the history of the Pontiac brand: the formation, rise and fall of an automobile company, interesting models. At the end of the article - a video about the Pontiac FireBird.

Despite the fact that in 2009 the Pontiac brand ceased to exist, its history that started so brightly remains in the hearts and memory of motorists for a long time.

Car or revolutionary

The first days of the new year 1926 were marked by a magnificent celebration for the New York Commodore Hotel. The lights beckoned amiably inside, the banners waved over the heads of the guests with the inscription “pow-wow”, meeting the Indian wigwam inside.

It was not a graduation party or even a pre-wedding bachelor party - in such a non-standard way, the eminent automaker General Motors presented a new subsidiary - Pontiac. A truly American brand decided to remind citizens and its customers the history of their own country, the history of defeats, conquests and bloodshed.

In 1720, in the village of the Ottawa tribe, which was located on the site of modern Detroit, a boy was born who was destined to become a hero akin to the Russian Chapaev. He became the ideological leader in the fight against the British colonialists, gathering under his "banners" all the tribes of the eastern territories of the United States.

In 1763, they attacked the British fortresses, scoring a number of significant victories. However, a long siege weakened the forces of the Indians, and therefore their leader had to make an agreement with the British, recognizing the authority of the British kingdom.

Although Pontiac was subsequently killed under unclear circumstances, his feat was enough for several cities in the American states and even Canada to be named after him.

Thus, the General Motors team made it clear that the new Pontiac cars would become the "leaders" among the 6-cylinder engines, the most massive, best and most popular on the market at that time.

Independent "little brother"

In giving birth to a new brand, General Motors did not aim to win the hearts of consumers with the latest technology, set speed records or create models of the future. In medicine, there is such a term as a "donor child", which is specially given birth to help the elder. An analogy can be drawn with Pontiac, which was destined for the fate of a satellite brand, that is, as it were, a younger, simpler and more budgetary brother of the solid automaker Oakland.

The idea of ​​​​such a rather intricate concept belonged to Alfred Sloan, who owned the GM corporation at that time. Initially, the automaker's strategy since the time of William Durant was to fill all price and technological niches in the automotive sector as much as possible. Durant sought to satisfy all the needs of absolutely all consumers, aesthetic, practical and financial.

Satellite firms were to become interlayers between key branches: for the premium Cadillac, they became the more affordable LaSalle, which, nevertheless, was more expensive than Buick. In the same way, Chevrolet was the “middle” brother of one of the oldest Oakland brands, and Pontiac became the youngest.

However, the idea in practice proved to be not entirely successful: some of the satellites ceased to exist in the very first year of their existence, some barely made it to the Second World War, after which they did not even try to get back on their feet.

But it was not in vain that Pontiac received the name of the great leader - the very first released model, which was the Pontiac 6-27, could boast 100 thousand copies sold in a year, and after another 2 years - more than half a million.

Ugly Aztec

The Pontiac engineering team again decided to recall the Indian "roots" of their company: oppression, hunger, difficult living conditions, wars, but at the same time the desire for freedom, survival, and the preservation of their identity.

Thus was created Aztek, which was released in 2001, which became a combination of a mid-size crossover, station wagon and minivan. Positioned as a car for outdoor activities, the Aztec received angular shapes, a roomy trunk and no less spacious interior, a good 3.4-liter V6 gasoline engine, and an independent suspension.

However, despite the handling, reliability, high-end ergonomics developed by the eminent Johnson Controls, full power accessories, an on-board computer and an excellent audio system, the extraordinary model became famous throughout as the ugliest car in the world. . The dealers' advertising slogan about "the most versatile car on the planet" came across only unpretentious motorists who did not care about the interior or exterior, but only practicality.

In the wake of bright advertising, an emphasis on all sorts of advantages, the manufacturer managed to sell a little more than 27 thousand copies. However, subsequently the Aztec left only a few units a year, and therefore by 2005 the patience of the GM management was over, and the model left the automotive world forever.

Sports achievements

General Motors did not encourage any kind of auto racing, especially street racing. But at the same time, Pontiac actively evaded emissions and fuel consumption requirements, invariably equipping its models with powerful Big Block engines. Such cars could not avoid sports victories.

In 1962, public favorite Glenn Roberts, who later died while racing, won the Daytona 500, America's great 500-mile race, in a Pontiac Catalina. In the same year, another national hero, Joe Weatherly, who also ended his life in a terrible accident during the competition, on the same model won not only almost a dozen races, but also the prestigious NASCAR Grand National championship.

Pontiac Firebird in 1969, thanks to the talented racing pair of John Ward and Jerry Titus, did not win, but showed an excellent result in the "daily" races "Daytona 24".

In addition, the Firebird modification has actually “registered” at the Trans-American races, at Road America, Monterrey and many other American tracks. Moreover, even now, it is the first generation of models that can often be seen at street races, when demonstrating the skill of drifting and at drag racing competitions.

Seeing the amazing possibilities of modifying the Firebird, a separate company was created under the leadership of Dennis Meekam, which PontiacTransAM improved to the maximum for participation in competitions. The result paid off - the Mikama team immediately won the 1982 SCCA Trans Am Racing Series championship. For several years, the Trans AM was considered the fastest car in America.

Film career of Pontiac cars

"I'm chasing a black TransAM - get out of the way, everyone, he's mine." - Said Sheriff Buford Justice in the once very popular comedy film Smokey and the Bandit.

In the year the film was written, Pontiac released a limited number ofIn the year the film was written, Pontiac released a limited edition of the Pontiac Fierbird Trans Am "Black and Gold special edition"

The cars featured were equipped with 6.6L V8 engines mated to a 4-speed manual transmission and Oldsmobile's 6.6L "Smallblock" V8 with automatic transmission.

After the success of the film, it was possible to buy TransAM in salons only after six months - the queues for this model were so long.

In 2002, a blockbuster with Vin Diesel called XXX appeared on the screens. For numerous chases and spectacular scenes, the film crew purchased many worthy cars, including a 1965 Pontiac GTO. Impressive back in the 70s, the model was modified in a certain way for the film: it received a more powerful engine, built-in weapons and even missiles.

Thus, a car with a 6.4-liter engine producing 325 hp. became a good "partner" for the screen superhero. But the actor had to work hard to control it, because at the time of creating the model they did not yet know about stabilization systems, and therefore only a very experienced driver was able to drive such a powerful muscle car.

Also, the GTO model can be seen in the movie "Knight of the Day", where she was driven by the beautiful Cameron Diaz.

Pontiac cars also took part in such popular blockbusters as “Knight Rider” (Firebird), “Transformers” (Solstice) and even in the series “Breaking Bad”, where the main character got the very ugly Aztek.

Automatic transmission

Now it's hard to imagine, but there were times when there was neither a robotic box nor a variator. Motorists had a rather meager choice - mechanics or automatic, and not everyone knows that General Motors should be thanked for the creation of the latter.

Three main American auto giants - Ford, Chrysler and GM - simultaneously worked on the idea of ​​\u200b\u200bthe "automatic". Partially, the system was installed on the Ford T of 1908 and consisted of several gears rotating around the central gear, i.e. the first "timid" development of a planetary gear.

It took General Motors a couple of decades to introduce a semi-automatic transmission whose planetary gear was already controlled by hydraulics. The next step was the “opening” of the fluid coupling, which was added to the transmission.

Finally, the world's first reliable, silent, fully automatic transmission, codenamed Hydramatic, was born in the bowels of GM in 1940.

Pontiac’s Catalina model, as well as Oldsmobile and Cadillac, received the novelty, thanks to which, by the 1960s, the PRNDL automatic transmission shift scheme, which is generally accepted today, was firmly established in America.

"Sports Car Killer"

The main pride of the legendary Pontiac GTO was the 8-cylinder 3-carbureted 7-liter engine, which not only in America but also in Europe received the sonorous nickname of the “sports car killer”.

To cool the powerful motor, the engineers thought of a special air supply system from behind the side of the car, providing the so-called dynamic boost. Called the Ram Air, this design was a custom-tuned hood scoop that sent air directly into the air filter housing, giving the model extra power. Cars with the Ram Air system received the XS engine code.

No less innovative was the development Vacuum Operated Exhaust (VOE) , installed on the exhaust system, turned the muffler into a straight-through one, providing the car with simply phenomenal power.

It is surprising that such an unusual and original brand entered into a protracted peak, which led to the collapse of the company. Since 1979, when the automotive industry around the world has gained tremendous momentum, and competition has become extremely fierce, General Motors has had to hastily revise its policy. Buick's affordable cars were relegated to the mid-range segment, while Pontiac had to redesign Chevrolet's lineup to fit the premium class.

However, all these maneuvers did not help to avoid falling sales, the economic crisis and the decision taken in 2009 to close the legendary brand.

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