April 27, 2009 – GM announces end of Pontiac

General Motors made a fateful announcement on this day in 2009 when it declared plans to phase out the Pontiac brand. Pontiac’s name actually predates the brand by nearly 20 years from when it first appeared on a car in 1926. Oakland Motorcars was founded in 1909 in Pontiac, Michigan, which lies within Oakland County. Two years later Oakland was bought by General Motors. GM began production of Pontiac as a companion make to Oakland, but its success led to Pontiac absorbing Oakland in 1932.

Above: Early Pontiac advertisement
Top: 1926 Pontiac, via Barrett-Jackson

Sales for Pontiac remained high through the onset of World War II. In fact, a Pontiac Torpedo was the last civilian vehicle produced in the US prior to suspension of civilian automaking due to the war. That vehicle was manufactured on February 2, 1942. In the decades following the war Pontiac would manufacture some of the most iconic cars in the United States, including the GTO, the grandfather of the muscle car. Other notable models include the Trans-Am, the Grand Am and the Fiero. Alright, maybe not the Fiero, but come on, you know exactly what it is! 

Pontiac GTO. By Trekphiler – Own work, CC BY 3.0

As recession set in during the 2000s many automakers began to struggle. The fight to survive was very real at General Motors. In order to secure government funding for a bail out they needed to completely redesign their sales model, which included offloading several brands. At first it was believed that Hummer, Saturn, SAAB and GMC trucks would be the only brands kicked to the curb.

Pontiac G6, similar to last Pontiac built.

In April 2009 several automotive publications were reporting that GM was doing a study to find out if eliminating the Pontiac brand would be beneficial. On April 23, a report was published saying the company would drop the Pontiac brand and preserve the GMC truck line, along with Chevrolet, Cadillac, and Buick brands. The decision to eliminate Pontiac was made primarily due to the increasing threat of a bankruptcy filing.] On April 27, 2009, GM formerly announced that Pontiac would be dropped and that all of its remaining models would be phased out by the end of 2010. The last Pontiac was a G6, built at the Orion Township Assembly Line in January 2010.

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