The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

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US car makers are reinventing themselves in this era of bailout money, bankruptcy and “cash for clunkers.” It’s a stark flashback to the early 1980’s when Chrysler received a government bailout – Chrysler is a repeat offender in this regard. Lee Iacocca came over to the struggling auto maker, leading the charge to turn things around. Turn things around they did, in terms of sales, but turn things around they did not do in terms of product. The entire Chrysler recovery was based on K. The K platform. Virtually every car they produced was based on a single platform. The LeBaron. Dodge Voyager minivan. You name it, it was based on the same old thing. Mr. Iacocca even went on television, in commercials espousing the “new” Chysler. Hard to believe it has been 25 years since this commercial aired on national television. Does it not remind you of a new set of commercials from yet another Detroit automaker that’s hitting the airwaves as we speak?

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Pontiac: Sayonara!

 

Pontiac, the 83 year-old General Motors brand once dubbed as the “excitement division” of the Detroit OE manufacturer, will be eliminated Monday, April 27.

According to The Detroit News, the demise of the Pontiac brand is part of the government-supervised restructuring plan of the automotive industry. GM is also set to close additional production plants and cut jobs to further reduce its $28 billion in unsecured debt.

Sure, Pontiac may have been an “exciting” brand in the past with the venerable old school GTO introduced in the 60s. But there have been nothing exciting about the forgettable Aztek, the front wheel drive Grand Am (’85 and up), the crappy G5 (rebadged Chevy Colbat), and the G6, which is just an updated & rebadged Grand Am. What about the latest GTO / G8? Both are made by Holden, GM’s subsidiary in Australia, and Holden is no General Motors (in a good way). What about the Pontiac Solstice? You can buy the same car as a Saturn or Opel (Germany), all sharing the same underpinnings. Hell, the Solstice’s roots can be traced back to the Opel Speedster / Vauxhall VX220.  There’s nothing original about any of their cars.

Rather than being an exciting brand, Pontiac – much like GM’s other brands – have incited an endless chain of yawns. And having no small car strategy has for sure hurt this brand. Personally speaking, I have never considered a Pontiac vehicle when shopping for a new car. Needless to say, I won’t miss it one bit.