Did the “Goat” Kill Pontiac?

As we have seen in recent years, many automakers are trimming back on the number of divisions they have. Most notably, GM no longer has the Hummer, Oldsmobile or Pontiac divisions. Pontiac was a stalwart for a long time though and the curiosity is, what actually caused Pontiac to be dissolved, or did something simply show the rest of the car world what they should have already known?

If you remember, not too long ago all three major American automakers required bailouts from the government in order to stay afloat. This meant the trimming of some divisions that weren’t performing to standards and were simply not profitable. At this time, Pontiac and Oldsmobile were soon lost by General Motors. Pontiac may have survived though except for some of the cars they were offering.

One of these cars was the Pontiac GTO from 2004 to 2006. This car was just an awful car, but it served a huge purpose which may have helped spurn the muscle cars we see today. Because so many fans of GM products expected a GTO to at least in some way resemble the GTO models of old, the massive disappointment in a car that looked like nothing more than a small sports sedan was evident, even though all three years this car was offered it was powered by some serious muscle.

The power under the “Goat”, as it was always affectionately called, was the same engine found in the Corvettes of the time. In 2004 the engine was a 5.7-liter and for the other two years it was a 6.0-liter engine, with a V8 for all three years. The GTO was offered with a six-speed manual transmission and these engines produced in the neighborhood of 400 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque all three years. The car was fast with a zero to sixty mph time under five seconds there was no denying the performance that was in place in this car to carry on the name.

Even with the optional Sport Appearance Package installed, the GTO looked like nothing more than a sedan or coupe that didn’t deserve the GTO stamp on it. As a car that had all the guts and none of the glory, this was a sad ending for the once proud “Goat” to face, but with a total production of the fourth generation GTO under 40,000 for the three years and no real interest in the future, Pontiac had to end the project.

Whether or not the “Goat” ended Pontiac or not is a conversation that may never end. With the Firebird ending in 2002 and the failure of the fourth generation of the GTO, Pontiac had no power machines to offer, which is typically what draws a crowd. Whether this car ended Pontiac or not it sure did show the world something important and thankfully the rest of the American automakers paid attention. The failure of the GTO showed us if you are going to bring back a classic name you need to dress it up appropriately, which may have led to the wide range of muscle cars of today that closely resemble the cars from their past, giving us a great deal of nostalgia to go with the awesome performance.

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