Party like It’s 2009! Tacky Plastic Body Cladding is Dead Forever!
What is that giant wheezing sound that you hear? It is the noise being made by hundreds of thousands of mullet wearing, overweight Middle Americans mourning the loss of Pontiac-home of tacky plastic body cladding, the fire prone 1986 Fiero and the hairy chested “Smokey and the Bandit” escape car also known as the Trans Am. It appears that in just one fell swoop General Motors has eliminated everything that was wrong with the American car industry. Yes, folks. Pontiac is officially and unceremoniously dead. Yippee!
Does this occasion make anyone else want to whip out the chips and dip and have a rocking celebratory backyard barbeque? Perhaps we could cook the remains of an Aztec? Preferably a yellow one. Too bad all of that wholly toxic plastic cladding that decorates the edges of this awkwardly styled pseudo-crossover would no doubt kill all of the party guests after it was set on fire, read more from here.
But was the Aztec one of the first crossovers? Only if you consider a vehicle with styling that gives it all the visual acumen of a hippopotamus crossing a river on his tip-toes to be something truly ground breaking. The Aztec also marked itself out as a true brand definer for Pontiac by possessing the handling characteristics of a New York City falafel cart steered by a suicidal AL-Qaeda member. The Aztec was just about as valuable as said falafel cart at resale time as well.
It would be one thing if the Aztec was a one off failure. But Pontiac has spent the last twenty years pawning off automotive dogs that are at best rebadged Chevys and at worst the pinnacle of poorly realized American tackiness. I actually take that back as to equate a Pontiac with a canine is to besmirch the character of a canine’s own rear end.
While the Pontiac Fiero may have looked like a Toyota MR2 competitor for about 12 minutes back in the 1980’s, that good will all went down the drain as owners found that the engine behind the rear seats had a propensity to light their hair sprayed hair on fire. The Grand Am may have managed to sell like hot cakes in certain parts of the country but in hindsight most people equate this cramped and tacky sedan with their worst rental car experiences.
In one of the greatest follies in recent General Motors history, the company continually tried to revive the long since dead “cool” factor of Pontiac with models like the GTO, Solstice and G8. While these were decent vehicles they would have been far better served as Chevy models or as Saturns back in the 1990’s when that brand still had its own cachet with import owners.
As Pontiac management was incredibly jealous of how Saturn was attracting so many non-GM owners to the brand, they continuously bullied GM management into ignoring Saturn for nigh-on an entire decade. So now, instead of just having one loser brand-Pontiac-General Motors is going to have to offload Saturn as well. Pontiac is an albatross around the neck of General Motors that has sullied the reputation of this storied company ever since its last cool vehicle-the GTO muscle car of the 1960’s-rolled off of the assembly line.
Many people may find this assessment to be quite harsh but I blame Pontiac for a huge portion of General Motors image problem. While I know plenty of people who would buy a GMC, Chevy or Cadillac I know of not even one person who would be willing to find themselves behind the wheel of a Pontiac. Buick may not be the coolest brand either to many Americans but at least the Chinese seem to love them and for that reason alone it should survive.
As a car guy I am continually disheartened by the state of the auto industry around the world. Countless people are losing their jobs due to plant closings and the utter disinterest on behalf of the public at large in buying new cars. But I take heart in this one side effect of this economic downturn-the death of Pontiac. It truly makes me giddy and gives me a hopeful feeling for the future of a slimmer and more right sized General Motors.
So in the midst of the gloom and doom there is at least one reason to get out your party hats and horns. Rejoice and be thankful all car lovers with taste! Pontiac is dead!