There was a time when performance cars of GM brands Chevrolet and Pontiac were going head to head against those from Ford and Mopar. These competitions persisted from the \'60s all the way to the \'90s. However, moments like those have diminished these days with marques like Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Plymouth that have already bid farewell to the market. Still, there is an existing longing among enthusiasts to bring at least remnants of those glory days back. While GM marques Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick and Oldsmobile had their fair share of producing the beefy V8 muscle cars, Pontiac was the most partial towards performance. From engines, transmissions, and other Pontiac performance parts, we explore how the brand created a following that had the need for speed.
The A Body and the F Body
During the glory days, Pontiac built its performance cars on three General Motors platforms: the A body, F body, and G body. Among the three, the A body had the longest production period spanning from the 1930s all the way to the 1980s. It became the base of the Pontiac models like the Tempest, LeMans, and GTO. The Pontiac GTO became a popular performance pick as the \'60s paved the way for muscle cars. In order to take care of its market, the brand had to make sure that Pontiac parts operate up to expectation. This was especially important as GTOs were put up against Chargers, Torinos, Skylarks, and Cutlasses on the strip. Then the GTO Judge came in 1969. The car boasted a conservative rating of 370 horsepower 445 ft lbs of torque with its 400 cubic-inch V8 with the Ram Air IV intake system.
Pontiac also didn\'t want to get left behind in the pony wars. Three years after the Ford Mustang was launched in 1964, GM answered the challenge with its F bodies: the Camaro and the Firebird. While the Firebird shared similar styling with the Camaro, the brand made sure that it created specific Pontiac parts to give its car an edge over its Chevy counterpart. The first generation performance Firebirds got a 350 ci Pontiac small block and even an option to put 400 ci in the engine bay. The model later gave way to performance trims like the Formula 400 and Trans Am that were known to be very competitive on the strip. While the Camaro and the Firebird have interchangeable parts, purists still believe that the best way to go is to use Pontiac auto parts.
The presence of these cars continued until the 1980s. However, as the automotive industry faced oil crisis and new emission regulations, later incarnations of these cars became toned-down versions of their predecessors in the muscle car era.
Old School versus New School
The automotive community thought that 1974 was the last year the Pontiac GTO would be manufactured. Hopes got up again when Pontiac reintroduced the fourth generation GTO in 2004. Its softer lines were a far cry from the brutish design of Coca-cola body of the muscle car era GTOs. However, its performance begged to differ. Despite its lack of elaborate Pontiac accessories, the 2004 Pontiac GTO was a sleeper. It was equipped with the 350 cubic-inch Chevrolet LS1 that could be mated with the optional Tremec 6-speed manual transmission. Its set-up produces 350 horses at 365 lb feet of torque. It\'s not really a bad deal compared to what The Judge had to offer. Unfortunately, GM killed the brand in 2009.
Six years after the brand bid farewell, there are still a handful of enthusiasts waving the brand\'s banner and companies supporting Pontiac parts online. Now, the question stands: will GM reconsider giving the Pontiac marque a comeback? We don\'t know for sure but we would like to keep on believing.