Thursday, April 11, 2013

1977 Pontiac Can Am

The now defunct GM brand Pontiac does not spur considerable passion from individuals of my generation.  My first car was a Pontiac.  A hand me-down Grand Am my cousin drove in college that my uncle no longer wanted.  I promptly blew the engine in less than a year.  I donated it to my high school for a $200 tax credit.  There was no doubt Pontiac was on the ropes all through the 1990s and continuing into the new millennium.  Pontiac had become boring copies of the higher selling Chevrolet cars.  Whoever looked at a G6 and thought 'Wow what a good looking car!'

However, car buyers from earlier generations have a much different awareness of what Pontiac could be.  In the ‘60s and ‘70s Chevrolet was still the high seller bread and butter for GM but Pontiac was the excitement arm of the company.  Case in point is this fine example of a 1977 LeMans with the Can Am package.  This small coupe was stuffed with a mammoth 400 cubic inch V8 behind the front bumper.  This is how Pontiac used to do business. Take a small body and pair it with a massive engine. Think of the original GTO and how it started the muscle car craze.  This big muscle bruiser is one that I saw at the Hunter Auto Expo last month.  In a room full of classic autos, this one didn’t just catch your eye it put you in a head lock.  That white paint and crazy stripes scream America in the 1970s. What car is complete without a shaker hood scoop too? If GM were a house hold then Chevy is the perfect do-nothing-immoral son and Pontiac is the child with tattoos and face piercings.  This car does not settle for the mundane.   Sadly this car was behind the times.  A big gas guzzler with only around 200 horse power didn’t bring many buyers into dealerships.  In today’s market we would call this call a niche car.  What a niche it was.  Owners of this car wanted to make a statement and hold on to a dream.  Who cares what Uncle Sam says you’re supposed to drive? Who cares how much gas costs?  Give this car a drag strip and a challenge.  

Take a short drive around your town and you will see that effects time had on Pontiac.  You see boring coupes, sedans, and maybe even an Aztec (I’m going to be sick).  After years of abuse GM finally has locked Pontiac away for its sins.  I can’t help but think of how I would run Pontiac if it were still around.  I think it would only need three models.  An entry level sedan based on the Chevy Cruze but with the 2.0 liter turbo engine from the Buick Regal GS and six speed manual, a Trans Am with an all-aluminum 7.0 liter V8 is an obvious choice, and the G8 which GM liked so much they are bringing it back into production as a Chevrolet SS.   I would limit the options list as much as possible.  If you want something other than these three cars as they sit, you can buy a Chevy or Buick that’s what they are built for.  Pontiac would be a performance only brand.  It would be aimed only as performance minded drivers.  Alas, we automotive enthusiast do not run the world we merely live in it.  What would be your ultimate car company? Leave me some comments and let me know, or give me a shout on Twitter at @dcengland86.