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Pontiac: The death of an icon

April 29, 2009


Having grown up in the States as a car-loving teenager, the words Trans Am and Firebird ring as familiar to me as KBAY-FM radio. These are model car names coming out of Pontiac, a General Motors brand. Pontiac has always stood for American muscle car in my mind.

Okay, I have to admit the only American car I ever owned was an old banger – a Buick Reviera that I picked up in Hammond Indiana. Buick is another GM brand. You’d be excited about Buicks if you were like 80 years old. I only got it because it was the cheapest in the used car lot.

So on winter break that year, my two friends and I packed up and drove it westward on I-80. I took a detour to the Rockies – through the snow and ice – to drop one of us off.


Dave and I then continued westward to San Francisco after a brief stop at Reno Nevada.

We were on the road for like 5 days. By the time we reached San Francisco, with the luggage and all, the poor car just wouldn’t make it up the steep slopes anymore. The transmission had given up so I had it towed to the junkyard and took a cab home. A sad end to a comfortable albeit nervous ride.

But I have to say a Buick is no Pontiac. During the early years, I had the hots for my neighbor’s car, a Pontiac Trans Am. Yeah the one with the weird air scoop. I don’t know what he did under the hood but from the sound of that engine, he must’ve packed in at least 600 horses. That’s almost like a truck. I’ve seen him drive along the coast. Vin Diesel might have some competition there. 🙂

The Pacific Coast Highway

The Pacific Coast Highway

So this latest news about GM closing down Pontiac came as a complete surprise to me. Personally I thought Buick would be the first to go (yeah, I still haven’t forgotten that ride over the Rockies). Actually I have nothing against Buick but its just plain boring, like an old uncle. But Pontiac – sure it may not be the best but its a true blue American icon.

The 1949 Pontiac Chieftain

The 1949 Pontiac Chieftain

Oh well, I guess the highways won’t be the same anymore.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. LC Teh permalink
    April 29, 2009 10:04 pm

    Ah… life in USA. I heard while spending a day in El Paso that US cities are built for the car. You can’t walk anywhere. The distance will just wear you out. So, its shopping malls have huge car parks, the roads are wide and long, etc… A car is a necessity, not a luxury. So, for an automobile company to shrivel up and just die off, it must be considered a real tragedy…

    Yeah. The car has a lot to do with the American dream and that’s gonna change when Fiat soon takes over parts of GM. Their philosophies are like night and day. But you’re right, Asian cities tend to build skywards whereas American cities (with the exception of New York) tend to build sideways with sprawling suburbia. And the freedom of mobility in ways that’s unquely American is essential to that concept.

  2. May 1, 2009 12:30 am

    Maybe our country should close down Proton 😛 particularly Perdana series so those lousy car with ridiculously high maintenance fee can be removed from the face of the world.

    Or they could sell it to Fiat and reinvent everything. I was told for the car industry, you need to sell 5 million vehicles a year to stay viable. You can’t restruct yourself to success.


  1. Where an icon went before it died « Damien Tan

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