January 3, 1926 – Pontiac debuts

On this day in 1926 General Motors introduced Pontiac, a companion brand to their modestly priced Oakland line. Soon after Pontiac production and sales were initiated, the brand was far outselling its partner. The growing sales figures led Pontiac to become the only automotive companion marque to ever survive its parent company when GM shut the doors on Oakland in 1932. 

By 1928 Pontiac was the top-selling US six cylinder car, as just shy of 77,000 Pontiac Chiefs were sold within its first 12 months of production. Even as the Great Depression took hold, Pontiac thrived as the cheapest available straight 8 car available in 1933. The brand saw continued growth up until the beginning of WWII, when civilian auto manufacturing grinded to a halt.

1964 Pontiac LeMans GTO

In the post war era Pontiac picked up where it left off. The 1950s saw the brand’s first V8, a critical component for Pontiac’s long term success. For it was a 389ci V8 that made up to 348 horsepower that would be under the hood of the GTO optioned Pontiac LeMans for 1964, giving birth to the muscle car era. 

The next several decades would be a roller coaster for Pontiac, and GM as a whole, that would come to an end with Pontiac production ending. This occurred because GM wanted to appease Congress so the company could receive a $25 billion bail out loan. In January of 2010, after nearly 85 years of production, a white Pontiac G6 left the factory, marking the very last Pontiac.

2010 Pontiac G6

Cover: 1926 Pontiac via Barrett Jackson

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