Pontiac Jump Starts Renaissance with GTO Coupe
Byline: Dave Boe
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Take, for example, General Motors' Pontiac division.
For decades, GM has successfully promoted Pontiac as the sporty, excitement division and through the years has carved out a strong identity. Marketing 101 suggests that brand identity should never be taken lightly, especially in today's current environment of multi-media message overload. Luckily for GM, Pontiac's sporty identity has withstood some rather trying times.
During the 1960s and much of the 1970s Pontiac sported such memorable offerings as the GTO and V-8-powered Lemans. Horsepower was all the rage throughout the land and Pontiac was king. From 1964 through 1975, more than 500,000 GTOs were sold during the heyday of the muscle cars. Then the 1980s rolled around and suddenly V-8 strength took a back seat to fuel economy. Pontiac found itself in a quagmire. The GTO took an early retirement and Lemans resurfaced as a Korean-built, four-cylinder subcompact. Pontiac suddenly found itself the proud parent of a putt-putt.
Now that we've turned the corner and entered a new millenium, Pontiac is making a drive to recapture the excitement. Lynn Myers, Pontiac-GMC General Manager, stopped by this month to address the Midwest Automotive Media Association in Oak Brook. Myers began her career with GM in 1973 and became General Manager of Pontiac-GMC in 1998. Myers is one of a handful of women to rise through the ranks of any automaker to reach the rank of general manager.
"Chicago is a huge market for Pontiac," Myers told a gathering of 30 or so journalists attending the lunchtime get-together. In fact, Pontiac ranks as the fifth best-selling nameplate of passenger cars in Chicagoland behind Chevrolet, Toyota, Honda and Ford.
Pontiac's unofficial renaissance began in the 2003 model year with the introduction of the Vibe. The four-cylinder Vibe will never be confused with a mean street machine, but its contemporary design and style helped attract 40 percent of non-GM buyers into the fold. …