High Performance Pontiac
Click here to find out more!

Why did Pontiac die in 1981?

A Hot Topic for Discussion
Posted July 8 2009 12:04 PM by KevinDiOssi 
Filed under: Editorials, Kevin DiOssi

Pontiac died in 2009, not 1981...


I have seen common complaints that any Pontiac built beyond 1981 is not a true Pontiac.

For me, Pontiac is a style and a mindset. We dwell on the GM corporate takeover that killed off the true Pontiac block. What makes you feel so strongly against the Chevy engines that power the Pontiacs from '82 on? The Firebird and Trans Am saw such great powerplants as the LT1, LT4, and LS1. The GTO came with a 350-horse LS1 and a 400-horse LS2. The G8 was available with 361-horse L76 and 415-horse LS3.

From a style standpoint, there hasn't been too many cars that can compete with the classic lines of the Original GTO's and second generation Trans Am. But, with that being said, the fourth generation Trans Am is one of the coolest looking cars ever built.

I just helped my friend move his 2000 Trans Am WS6 down from Georgia and it had no front bumper, just the WS6 hood. The hood and body shape alone made me sit back and appreciate how cool these cars are. (Yes, I will be owning another one soon.) Yet I still find people discrediting them as a true Pontiac? What makes this car a Pontiac is that it has personality. There is something in the car that makes it different than all the other junk on the road.

In 2002, this was all over. The Firebird was killed off and a new breed of cars was brought in. The G5, G6, Solstice, and Torrent all wore the red arrowhead. For comparison's sake, the G5 is way cooler than the Cobalt. The G6 is an extremely nice car with crisp lines. The Solstice is light years ahead of the Miata in cool points. Nobody really cares about the Torrent but I would buy one before an Equinox. To be honest, the Torrent is pretty cool and they make a GXP version that was very fun to beat the snot out of.

When I look at the brand in 2003, I don't see much interest. But 2004 brought the GTO which was a remarkable car...not really a GTO in my opinion, but a true muscle car. (I own one, so don't kill me!) In 2008 the way-cool G8 was brought over and this thing is great. The GT and GXP make for one hell-of-a daily driver.

Yes, the glory days may be gone for good but I feel those died way before 1981. I think we should consider ourselves lucky that Pontiac still managed to build great cars for us.

So, answer me this question: Why did Pontiac die in 1981? If you believe that then why are you upset over the brand's failure and dissolve in 2009?



22 comments
barneyformula
barneyformula

I'll throw my two cents in as well. Really it was over in 79 with the last 400, but 81 will do as a point of discussion. There have been a scarce few Pontiacs I liked after 81, the 91 Firebird/TA came close as well as the 86(87?) GP 2+2, 97 GP, the Solstice and finally the G8, even though it should be the Bonneville or Catalina. Chevy engines have their place in performance history, but not in a Pontiac body. I feel the same about Chevy's in a Buick or Olds. The LS engines are great as long as you don't have to look at them, and please stop refering to them as small block Chevys! They have nothing in common except the bellhousing pattern. Cadillac buyers have always bought for the name and the "prestige" as evidenced by the comment made to me years ago by an old fart..."are you qualified to work on a Cadillac?". He was serious, he really thought his Chevy chassis'd 87 Sedan Deville with the 307 Olds was something special, like a '32 V16 or something. Pontiac people know better, or at least they should.

fireprix
fireprix

I feel Pontiac began feeling ill in 1975 when other coroprate motors started to appear in Pontiacs. It got really sick in 1979 when the last 400 was dropped into a Trans Am. It went into a coma in 1981 when PMD was axed and finally died when Goverment Motors pulled the plug in 2009. Pontiac was designed to be a step above Chevy in styling and performance. I don't think anyone will argue the styling of most 82 and later Pontiacs but how can they be a step above in performance when they shared the same Chevy engines that were for the most part inferior to the Pontiac engine? Why did they kill off PMD and keep Chevy? From an economic standpoint it would have made more sense to keep PMD engines as they had the ability to displace 326-455ci from the same block. Chevy still produced 454s for trucks for many years to come. I would think that it was more costly to produce 2 separate blocks when 1 would have done it all. G.M. always has and always will be about Chevy.

gecko115
gecko115

My first car was a '73 Lemans. People called it chevelle, malibu, skylar, or cutlass. When I told them it had a 350, they couldn't believe it was'nt a chevy motor.My second car was an '89 Firebird. They called it a Camaro all the time. I'm sure people mistook '67s for Camaros all the time-people are morons.I just bought a '79 Firebird. If you want to call it a Buick, just because it has a Buick V6, put the doobie out now. There is nothing Buick about this car.I'd like nothing better than to drop a Poncho 400 in to the 79, but don't try to tell me some newly produced aftermarket block will make it more Pontiac than it already is. I bought it to drive & enjoy. It takes more than an engine to make a Pontiac. When some pioneer converts a '68 Bonneville to electric motors because it has the chassis to handle all the batteries, it will still be a Pontiac.

KevinDiOssi
KevinDiOssi

Hmmm, I didn't see things getting this out of hand. Well, to each their own. It's clear that you all have formed your own opinions and are very loyal to the true Pontiac power.

Pontiacman8
Pontiacman8

A 6.0 is a lame excuse for a motor.Not being able to pass emissions that was just another poor excuse to put junk under the hood of the vehicles they were making.The true Pontiac engine is what it's all bout at least for me any way. Well said creepyracing I agree.

creepyracing
creepyracing

The ls people talk alot about horsepower but never the torque? Torque gets you off the line and the LS motors cannot compare to the true pontiacs. Emissions? you have to stop believeing the global warming crap. Get those nuts in california off the weed, it doesn't exist!!!

allyearsallmotors
allyearsallmotors

You all know our beloved pontiac motors of old wern't going to come close to passing new emissions. And most of the population didn't have the balls to buy performance back then any ways, if GM would have tried to keep that game going they would have killed off the pontiac name before the berlin wall came down. You love'em you hate'em, thats just part of being a family. Love you PONTIAC!

allyearsallmotors
allyearsallmotors

You would have a better argument if you said pontiac died when Wagners or De lorean left, not when a name on an engine changed. You have very strong opinions that arn't likely to be changed, but let me tell you mine. If I had to choose between any of "true pontiac motors" in a daily driver or my 6.0, i would choose 6.0. Not to say I don't love a SD or HO. But come on these LS motors are great. We will all believe what we want. I just wish we could have had more Bold executives that would find and exploit the generals loop holes like those GREAT ONES.

Pontiacman8
Pontiacman8

Those regular or corporate (Chevy) engines never have got the job done when compared to a Pontiac engine.

86Trans_Am
86Trans_Am

Alright I agree that pontiac did die in 1981. i drive a '86 TA daily. Other than a few styling mods here and there. It is the same as a camaro of the same year. the other difference is that my TA ways some where in the neighborhood of 4000lbs. Verses the camaro that ways a little over 3 thousand. The regular GM motor just doesnt get the job done.

cupar
cupar

I got my very first car two days ago. It's a 2009 pontiac Vibe 1.8l and i parked in a extra foods parking lot next to a 67 gto and said to myself i am damn happy that car in making my brand look good. Then a couple cars down i see a new(er) astra with the same 1.8 and was disappointed knowing that my car isn't a pontiac it's a gm.

creepyracing
creepyracing

ONLY 400 HORSE? My wife drives a 99 grand am that looks like the G8's clone.I drive a 00 monte carlo,Last of gm's 2 door cars.Just as going to work vehicles. Thats what I'm saying the G8 and the GTO(Blasphemy to call it that) Have no style, no pizzaz,No turn the heads look. When I drive the 79 TA I turn heads. The corp engine has no torque to get those fat pigs off the line either. I have driven a new camaro SS and see GM missed the mark here as well. Not retro enough and a piece of tupperware on top of the engine. No the 2002 bird was the last Styling poncho. The 79 was the last real pontiac. The last 7 years have been nothing but ugly cars. Still can't figure out what you see in a G8 4 door? what a waste of a V8.

Justin_at_GMHTP
Justin_at_GMHTP

Do you have a metric for determining this lack of build quality?

Pontiacman8
Pontiacman8

True pontiac fans will never fold.Nothing these days is well built.They are not much better than the pontiacs of the early era.The things you are saying are only said by people who are trying to sell this new ill manufactured junk and the quality is just not there in the new cars and most likely will never be there again.Sad but true weather people believe it or not.

Justin_at_GMHTP
Justin_at_GMHTP

Instead of resenting the '81-09 Pontiac, why not enjoy them instead? Have you driven a new G8 GXP or even the older LS1 Trans Am? They are phenomenal cars, much better then the Pontiacs of the 80's and 90'and arguably much better then the Pontiacs of the early era. Not to say they have the same personality, but a car is, at some point, a car. And driving something with 400+ rwhp on tap, having a classy, well built interior and a modern appearance really is worth something. So, my question to the purists is two fold. 1. What do you currently drive (everyday)?2. Have you actually spent time in a new G8 or GTO, and if so, what did they 'corporate engine' do that made the actual driving experience sub-par?

Pontiacman8
Pontiacman8

No one doesn't say anything about cadillac because we do not care about cadillac.

Pontiacman8
Pontiacman8

new gto and g8 Better than any car built in the last 30 years that's a laugh.

Steve Baur
Steve Baur

Take away the Northstar engine, and Cadillac hasn't made their own engine in decades, but no one says they are not Cadillac's because of it. I bet most don't even realize that the Northstar is unique to Cadillac. They are buying the brand, the styling and the prestige, not because it has its own unique engine.The new GTO and G8 are better than any GM car built in the last 30 years. Drive one of them some time and you'll see why.

Pontiacman8
Pontiacman8

Pontiac died in 1981 because that is when they quit producing there own engines and put junk under the hood.I also think that those power numbers are over rated and there is nothing great about the newer Lt and Ls motors they are a insult to the old original LT-1 first gen small block.The newer gto was a major insult to the real GTO and I do not see anything great about it.Oh and i'm not upset of the brands failure and dissolve in 2009 because that really happend in 1981.

creepyracing
creepyracing

You really don't want to open this can of worms again!!! In looking back 1981 is when government motors began Killing off the pontiac brand by killing off it's engine division.They actually did it in '78 and used up the last of the 400's in '79. GM has always treated pontiac as a bastard child in favor of the chevy. The famous "new"corvette design in 68 is ripped off from the '64 banshee. Pontiac stopped being a performance brand in 2002 when the last Trans Am was built.(The LS engines are very corporate by the way having nothing in common with the famous small block chevy.)But you really have to stop calling that G8 and the abomination with the GTO badgeing muscle cars.It just doesn't matter now as the current govt. is going to screw up the auto industry for good in the next few years.Green cars? global warming? You think we are buying this liberal B.S.?Come to wisconsin in 3 months and show me global warming. Not only is pontiac dead but soon you will get nothing but a econobox deathtrap.

  • RSS Feed
    • Add to My Yahoo!
    • Add to Google
    • Subscribe on Bloglines
    • Subscribe on NewsGator
    • MyMSN
    • My AOL
    • Add to NetVibes
    • Add to Rojo
    • Add to NEWSBURST
    • Add to Technorati
    SUBSCRIBE TO OUR BLOGS


High Performance Pontiac
High Performance Pontiac