So GM's planning to dump Pontiac from its family of brands as part of its "restructuring" plan. Sort of sad. Perhaps it's a function of age, but Pontiac seems, to me, interwoven with the fabric of American culture-like Leave It To Beaver and I Love Lucy. I guess, though, in this multi-cultural, shrunken globe, MP-3 era, black and white TV shows and Detroit iron are both irrelevant, sadly, like many other familiar American icons. Pontiac gave us the Star Chief, the Catalina, and the Tempest-one of the first of the "compacts". They built Safari wagons, Bonnevilles, and the first "muscle car" the GTO. That particular car, immortalized by Ronny and the Daytonas' hit song "Little GTO", brought to market in 1964, was conceived by a team that included one John Z. DeLorean who would become Pontiac's general manager that same year. (before scoring the ultimate GM position, then, of head of the Chevrolet division
where his rising star would be tarnished by his advocacy of the Vega-possibly the shoddiest, most unreliable car ever produced. His fame would turn to infamy with the financial slight-of hand that defrauded investors in his DeLorean Motor Company and his later "entrapment" in a federal drug trafficking charge.) Pontiac also gave us the Firebird, and it's "Cars-Gone-Wild" sister, the Trans Am, and the affordable, sporty, Fiero. (What will the freshly face-relifted Burt Reynolds drive if Hollywood does another "Smokey and The Bandit" movie? A Prius?) Of course, they are also responsible for, arguably, the ugliest vehicle ever-the Aztec. Of late, however, their lineup has been about as sexy as a row of beige four drawer filing cabinets. They lost their mojo somewhere along the way, and apparently the current brass at GM thinks it can't be found. I understand ditching Hummer-obnoxious, faddish, behemoths that celebrate excess and extravagance. I don't understand the decision to cut bait with Saturn. Their quality rep has been steadily rising, and it seems to me the GM brand least tainted by the I-hate-American-cars-because-they're- unreliable stigma. Probably, successful models currently badged as Saturns will ultimately become Buicks, or Chevrolets-but not Pontiacs. Like with the demise of Oldsmobile a few years ago, there's a group of people, me included, who hate to see it go. We, I suppose, unrealistically but nostalgically focus on their glory days, not their dismal current state. But I also miss black, 20 pound, rotary dial phones with a curly wire attaching the receiver; the romantic hiss and pop and sizzle of a phonograph needle dragging through a groove to play music; leaky British motorcycles that would shed parts from vibration as you rode them; those days when you could say "repairman", or "garbageman", or "fireman" instead of "...person" without offending someone; and when Miss Texas would have been cheered for advocating "opposite sex" only marriage. Like the LeMans, those days are history!