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Pontiac Models Old and New Leave Great Memories

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Pontiac

Pontiac Models Old and New Leave Great Memories

Hugh Hurst
September 9, 2009

Pontiac is arguably the best all around car that General Motors ever produced. Although, it is fair to say that the Cadillac and to some extent the Buick were more readily identified as luxury automobiles, the Pontiac has always been far more than a performance machine.

To the younger generation, the Firebird and its performance cousin the Trans Am are probably the models most readily identified with the brand, but Pontiac dealers (of those that remain!) can certainly testify to the early, glory days of the GTO.

These models were so representative of their era that they became mainstays in the popular culture, with starring roles in box office topping movies like "Smokey and the Bandit" starring Burt Reynolds and popular television series like "The Rockford Files" starring James Garner.

And back in the earlier days of larger cars with enormous tail fins, Pontiac certainly had credible entrants such as the Bonneville and the Catalina.

In recent years, there was a tremendous amount of favorable press for the original launch of the Pontiac G6 and the subsequent arrival of the updated G8, both updates of the classic Pontiac performance car of bygone days.

Hopefully, there will be an ongoing and vital market for Pontiac used cars and certainly at least some Pontiac dealers may be able to successfully transform their businesses into repair centers and continue to supply enthusiasts with genuine parts for them.

The loving restoration of classic Pontiacs from the past and present will no doubt grow in popularity and cult status once new models are no longer rolling off the assembly lines.

When Henry Ford first started manufacturing automobiles, the idea was to produce a car that would transport people from one place to another, be easy to maintain and be affordable by working people. Ford's cars were utilitarian.

Fast forward to the 1970's when cars were now designed to project an image.

So the Pontiac Firebird TransAm projected both images - young and free.

The TransAm was a muscle car. While the definition of muscle car is somewhat ambiguous, it is generally accepted that a muscle car has two basic requirements. It must be a small car with a stylish exterior and a big engine.

The Firebird also flew into the movies. In 1977, the TransAm appeared in Smokey and the Bandit. Both the son and the Sheriff started after Reynolds. All of this action together with the comedy resulted in a box office hit.

Yet, these stunts were so rigorous that all of them were damaged during the shooting of the film.

It is rumored that, prior to the filming, a high level Pontiac executive offered Burt Reynolds a free Pontiac Firebird if the movie was a hit.

The TransAM was featured in another film, Cannonball. His parole officer also happens to be his current girlfriend. Caroline's girlfriend and parole officer tries to dissuade him. But he talks her into accompanying him and they take off in his red TransAM.

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Source:  Amazines.com

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