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R.I.P. Pontiac by Steve Fante

by Cool Rides Online Champion Steve Fante

 

Being a die-hard Pontiac FANatic, I wanted to do a story on the upcoming 5th anniversary of the demise of my beloved Pontiac brand. I started taking notes and looking up info when it hit me…this one needs to come from the heart. R.I.P/ Pontiac 1926-2010

I was going to ask for a moment of silence but…FOR WHAT? Pontiac guys and their legends AREN’T GOING ANYWHERE!

My earliest memory of LOVING a car was my Dad’s 1959 Pontiac Bonneville.  He sold it car in 1964 and I recall being so upset and mad while waiting for the new owner to pick it up. I asked him to park it behind the garage so we could put a tarp on it and keep it. 10 more years and I would have been able to drive it!

Later that year we moved to Pontiac, MI to be closer to Pontiac Motor Division where my dad was working.  In 1966 he brought home his GTO.  Every guy on our street was in our driveway admiring it. Wow, my dad was the coolest guy ever.  A year later the entire rear quarter was taken out in the parking lot, when my Mom drove it to work.  Since the GTO was the 2nd car I fell in love with, and never got to drive, I vowed that I would have one of my own someday.

In 76, I started working at Pontiac Motor Division. Since then, there has always been a Pontiac in my driveway. Unfortunately, I always have a near miss on getting my ‘66 GTO.  In 1980 I bought my first new car.  You guys know it as JUSTA6, my Sunbird:

justasunbird

As I was married by this time, my Sunbird quickly became my faithful “mistress”.  But, my longing for the GTO would never go away.

My kids grew up at car shows and many long overnight drives from all over the US and Canada when competing in ISCA Autoramas.  I’m proud to say my son and my daughters are all car nuts and the Pontiac tradition proudly lives on. In ‘07 my Daughter wanted one of the cars DAD built, before I retired, which happened to be the G6. I got her into the plant and we followed the build through the Orion Assembly plant. We even helped install a few parts along the way!  She still has her first new Pontiac as well:

justapontiac

Then I found my GTO.  It was pretty much a stripped shell that was used as a bracket car. This story should end here!  But, I ended up helping a guy that was down on his luck and in a real mess. I got the start of my GTO and my retirement project! I was disheartened to find I had to start over with a new frame. Once the body was up the news was even worse…the car was too far gone. While I was able to buy most of the new metal, a lot was hand fabricated. I found a 421SD Tri power (good bye 396) between countless swap meets. I’ve almost completed the interior and have all missing exterior. Paint is next.

justared

Pontiac owners are fiercely loyal. There is an instant brotherhood and willingness to help with problems, finding parts, and information. You usually walk away from someone you JUSTA met, feeling like you’ve known them forever.  In a day and age where brand loyalty has gone out the window with the cassette, Pontiac owners keep the tradition alive. Pontiacs will never die…they become LEGENDS. My message to GM: Bring Pontiac back NOW!

PontiacEmblem1

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