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Automotive rant 28 April

Tuesday, 28 April, 2009

Just because I can, and somebody’s paying attention … and I am sick of today’s slobbering all over a marque most consumers did not know persisted.

I have nothing positive to say about Pontiac. I have no fond memories of any particular Pontiac model. Those I knew best were a T-1000, essentially a Pontiac Chevette, and a Pontiac 6000 mid-size sedan from the late 1980s. These were uninspiring, creaking meanaces. Neither of these were my own vehicle, although I do remember driving the 6000 alone for some reason lost to history taking a graceful Texas-sized off ramp at just under the speed I would in my daily-driver pick up truck. I got sparks when the chassis hit tarmac at 45 MPH. Another driver might have lost control. Strictly speaking, that is driving excitement.

Thinking romantically of Pontiac, I read of the original Tempest, Star Chief, Firebird, GTO and Trans Am. These were the vehicles that made Pontiac something special. When I think of Pontiac I think of the T-1000 and 6000 of course, the Trans Sport, Aztek, G3, the various Sunbirds, Daewoo LeMans … If you really want a Pontiac, get a Chevrolet then give a teenager $1500 and direct them to Pep Boys. It hurts because long ago Pontiac stood for something positive and dynamic. Sure it was bullshit, but it was really good bullshit.

About the Holden entanglement: Marketing did not persue those guys buying the $50K European touring sedans. You did not pursue the American mystique, which still exists. See Camaro. See CTS. Forgetting for the moment that the various and sundry flags on display at the Pontiac dealer would have sent any of these fellows into the dark comfort of the TGI Fridays bar, those guys were your market. I don’t know where you would have placed the product so they can see it. Surely some TV detective needed a cool car. We don’t have anything like our own Top Gear just yet, but you didn’t even try.

Solstice couldn’t cash the checks its styling wrote. What the hell is a G3 anyway? Why in the information age would anyone pay a 30% premium for an Aveo? Differentiate a G5 and Cobalt, please? G6, Malibu, Aura? The idea of Pontiac as a niche brand sold through the surviving Buick-GMC network was exciting, but there is no reason why the same car isn’t a Chevrolet SS or Buick, provided Buick actually becomes something other than GM’s Mercury.

GM: Stop listening to the dealers. They don’t know what people want, they know what somebody came in asking about last week. Clearly they can sell anything, so let them sell something good. I have not owned GM since my 1972 Nova was towed away ca. 1989. (I got $70) Once Opel is gone, what happens to the good cars which are either here or coming? Cruze? (God, can you do something about that name, please?) Malibu, LaCrosse? (Canada, masturbation, I know I’m not the first to say it, but c’mon.) Since it’s “all new” call it Century, and promote it as “The New Buick Century” as a double entendre. Could the Camaro possibly be that good? Will it replace the Porsche Boxter as the middle-age guy’s compensation car? How about a Buick version with a different more lux interior called Wildcat, Riviera … Buick’s mid-size hybrid or the Volt variant is called Electra. Let’s roll, baby.

My God. I’m defending General Motors.

We really need an American Top Gear, or a reasonable facsimile. Otherwise the good cars are going to end up at the back of the lot because the rubes don’t know how to sell them.

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