“The Great One” was Pontiac’s answer to a youth market with attitude and disposable cash. Detroit exploited a generation’s rebellion by creating cars with machismo to burn. In 1964, John DeLorean, Pontiac’s chief engineer, shoehorned the division’s biggest V8 into the timid little Tempest compact with electrifying results.
In The Seventies, for the first time in American history, the government intervened in the auto industry. With the 1973 oil crisis, the Big Three were ordered to tighten their belts. Automotive design came to a halt, and the big-block Trans Am became the last of the really fast cars. The muscular Firebird had been around since 1969 and, with its rounded bulges, looked as if its skin had been forced out by the strength underneath.
The Pontiac Fiero was typical of John DeLorean. American manufacturers had watched for over a decade as Europeans like Fiat, Ferrari and Lamborghini had produced exotic, mid-engined sports cars. DeLorean was the first to believe that America could match that success, and do it more cheaply. The Pontiac Fiero (the name means ‘proud’) was the first, and as it turns out the only, mid-engined sports car designed and built in America. Continue reading “Pontiac Fiero – 1984”
When John DeLorean, Pontiac’s chief engineer in the 1960s, named the first Pontiac GTO after the Ferrari 250 GTO, it was considered almost sacrilegious. The letters stand for Gran Turismo Omologato, that is, homologated (accredited) for GT racing. General Motors had banned advertising that associated their marques with racing, a keystone of Pontiac’s strategy.
Many American model lines involve confusing nomenclature — especially when names continue for decades — and so it is with the 1960s Pontiac Grand Prix, which made its debut in 1962 and has been around ever since. But first series cars belong squarely to the Swinging Sixties, as the second series (from 1969) dropped the Grand Prix from Pontiac’s upmarket full-size range into the mid-range.
Launched in 1957 as a low-slung, sexy, convertible limited edition at the top of the Pontiac range, the Bonneville was flashy and fast. It was good enough to pace the 1958 Indianapolis 500 (a first for any Pontiac), but it missed its intended mark.