Skip to main content

Here's Why Now Is The Perfect Time For GM To Revive The Pontiac Brand

Sadly, there is no indication Pontiac will be coming back anytime soon, but here's why GM should change its mind on Pontiac.

On one of my latest internet scourings, I stumbled upon a video talking about the Mya/June 2024 issue of Car and Driver magazine, and more specifically, the content on the back of the cover. It referenced the return of the Pontiac brand, which was actually, a joke, or more like a love letter to the now-defunct GM brand.  

The topic of said "love letter” was recently discussed on the GM Inside News forum, which is where you can also see the cover. Although disappointed, like many other Muscle car enthusiasts, I thought now would be the perfect time to resurrect the brand as an enthusiast-centric performance marque, and here's why. 

I really hope someone from GM management is reading this because what I am about to say would, no doubt, resonate with many fans out there. It is no secret that brands branch out in order to give us some spectacular models. The latest example is from Genesis, which evolved from being a Hyundai model to now being a separate luxury brand.  

With the Dodge Charger Daytona going fully-electric or inline-six-powered, depending on what trim you go for, the American Muscle car lineup is getting thinned out. The next-generation Ford Mustang is also rumored to be a hybrid sedan, joining the BEV wave alongside the fully-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E, and the next-gen Chevy Camaro is, reportedly, going to be an EV sedan. Albeit in the spirit of humor, the words written on the back of the Car and Driver magazine cover resonated with fan's cries for true Muscle cars.  

“Pontiac fans, it's been a weird 15 years since we left hasn't it? Now, we can't definitively say that Pontiac's absence influenced the events we all have been through, but come on. Caffeine comes out of Four Loko and now it's in lemonade? Everything on the road looks like Aztec now? You need us. America needs us. So, Pontiac is back! Our first model is a hybrid. Surprised? Well, it uses a battery and an electric motor to start a 667-horsepower, supercharged, 372 cubic-inch V-8. And we think you are going to want one, because what else are you going to do? You can't buy a new Dodge Challenger and leave the splitter guards on anymore. Don't worry, we've got you – our new car's entire front end is a splitter guard. At Pontiac, we are here to offer a future filled with V-8s, great sounds, gold pinstripes, and window louvers. And if someone shouts "Last call”, we'll just smuggle in some Coors from Colorado and keep the party going".  

To me, this sounds like a lament to a glorious bygone era (quietly sobbing*). Of course, it's worth mentioning that at the bottom of the cover, there is a disclaimer that says “Do you need to be told this is fake and not to be taken seriously? Our lawyers think you do”. And after that slap in the face, it's off to the hybrids again. Or if you want a modern-day Pontiac, just visit Trans Am Worldwide, which specializes in reimagining modern GM models (usually Camaros) as classic GM models.   

What models should Pontiac bring back? 

Back when Pontiac was still around, it was a General Motors subsidiary, positioned under Chevrolet. The way I see it, if Pontiac was returning, there would be three models.

1. Pontiac Trans Am/ Firebird 

Without a doubt, the first Pontiac to make a comeback, with a bang no less, has to be the Trans Am/ Firebird. If the next-gen Chevy Camaro is going to become an EV, then let there be a Pontiac that adheres to the classic Muscle car formula. Companies like TAW have been making Trans Am/ Firebirds, based on fifth and sixth-generation Camaros for over 10 years, so maybe GM can take note.  

That 372-cubic-inch supercharged V-8 comes up to 6.1 liters, but I am thinking of the LT series of GM V-8 engines that would serve the purpose just fine, with the LT1 or LT2 being the base powerplant. That 667-horsepower figure also corresponds to the Cadillac CT5-V BLACKWING's 6.2-liter, LT4, supercharged V-8. Moreover, the potent V-8 powerplants could benefit from from mild-hybrid technology incorporating starter-motor generator, integrated on to the gearbox for instant off-the line acceleration.  

2. Pontiac Banshee 

In 1964, there was a project for what was essentially meant to be Pontiac's version of the Chevrolet Corvette. For obvious reasons (internal competition), GM did not allow the Banshee to enter the production stage. Technically, the Banshee cars were four different models, but the most notable is the internally-dubbed, XP-833, which bore striking resemblance to a C3 Corvette Stingray. All in all, two prototypes were built – a straight-six-powered hardtop and a V-8-powered soft-top convertible. The Pontiac team even worked on a four-seater variant, dubbed XP-851. 

With the C8 Corvette being the first production, mid-engine Corvette, a hypothetical rebirth of the Pontiac Banshee should take after the C7 Corvette, with its classic, front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. That way, a new Pontiac Banshee wouldn't be as direct of a competitor to the Corvette as the original XP-833 prototype. The LT1 or LT2 engines would best serve as a base powertrain while the LT4/ LT5 supercharged V-8s would be ideal for the range-topping Banshee.

3. Pontiac Vibe 

Now, hear me out. If Pontiac is making a return, there should be one model that would be for the masses – a "cash cow” to generate income for developing the fun stuff. The main reason the original Pontiac Vibe was a hit is that it wasn't a true Pontiac. The first and second-generation Pontiac Vibe were, actually, a rebadged Toyota Matrix. The car was produced by NUMMI (New United Motor Manufacturing Inc.), based in Fremont, California, but the main aggregates – engine, transmission, running gear, etc. was all Toyota, which means reliability.

If a newly revived Pontiac follows the same formula, the brand should ensure longevity for itself. The real question is, which Toyota model would best fit the deal? My bet is the Toyota Corolla Cross comes to mind, but maybe make it look a bit different? Since Pontiac would best make sense as an enthusiast-centric brand nowadays, there should be a performance variant of the Vibe on offer.  

Do you agree with how or if this hypothetical revival should happen? Don't forget to share your thoughts in the comment section. 

About the author

Dimitar Angelov's automotive interests made him an expert in a wide variety of vehicles. Japanese brands like Toyota are closest to his heart, although performance cars in general are his favorite segment, which is why he is constantly on the lookout for the best deals on the market. Dimitar Angelov's car passion and knack for the written word led him to complete a Master of Arts in Media and Communications, and classic car restoration. Dim is happy to get behind the wheel of any car and share his impressions. You can follow Dimitar on XLinked-inInstagram, and Facebook.