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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Farewell, Pontiac

1966 Pontiac GTO

Little GTO, you’re really lookin’ fine

Three deuces and a four speed, and a 389

Listen to her tachin’ up now, listen to her why-ee-eye-ine

C’mon and turn it on, wind it up, blow it out GTO.

Little G. T. O. Ronnie and the Daytonas, 1964 (2:39)

Enjoy the memories of that fabulous little car from the muscle car era of the 1960s as General Motors has announced that after 83 years they will stop the production of Pontiacs. The Bonnevilles, Catalinas, Firebirds, and Trans Ams will be memories of an era when General Motors ruled the car business in the U. S. A popular saying many years ago was "If it’s good enough for General Motors, it’s good enough for me." That is an echo of the past now.

They pretty much have themselves to blame as they were the fat cats of the U.S. car business and allowed complacency to kick in as the Japanese and others were making serious inroads into their business. Now, they are broke and begging for government money to survive. It’s a sad state of affairs.

"Little GTO" made it to number 4 on Billboard’s top 40 hit list in August, 1964. It was summer and Pontiac had taken their little Tempest model (originally LeMans) and put a 389 inch V8 under the hood to produce the G.T.O., the first of the real "muscle cars." Fully loaded it sold for $4,500, pretty steep in those days but who cared? That baby would really go!

In 1969, the Pontiac GTO "Judge" was introduced. At that time "Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In" was a big hit on ABC television and one of the catch phrases of that show was "Here Comes the Judge." The Pontiac Judge was a take-off of that line and was the ultimate in the GTO Series with wider tires, decals, rear spoiler, and a fancier engine.

Although Pontiacs will no longer be produced, we can still enjoy their performance on reruns of shows like "The Rockford Files" as James Garner outruns many a lumbering, ugly, mid 70s car in his sleek Pontiac Firebird Trans Am.

First it was the Oldsmobile, now the Pontiac. Buick will probably be next to join the extinct list along with DeSoto, Plymouth, Hudson, Nash, and others that used to be common on the roads of America.

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