Classic car fans are wearing the black this week to mourn the passing of Pontiac, one of the truly iconic American automobile brands. Pontiac was founded all the way back in 1899 when Harry Hamilton and Albert North opened up the Pontiac Spring and Wagon Works and by 1907 they had put together their first car.
After a successful reception at the Chicago Auto Show that same year, Pontiac merged with the Oakland Motor Car Company, which was so named because they were out of Oakland County in Michigan. General Motors acquired Oakland Motor Company a couple of years later, and they wound up introducing the Pontiac brand in 1926.
The Pontiac was known as a solid and dependable but spectacularly unremarkable car until the mid-fifties when Semon “Bunkie” Knudson became the General Manager. With a young lieutenant named John DeLorean by his side he reworked the brand’s image. By 1965, the entire Pontiac line was awarded Motor Trend magazine’s prestigious Car of the Year award, in large part due to the performance option that was available on the Tempest and the LeMans known as the GTO. The GTO became a model in its own right in 1966, and then came the Firebird in 1967 and the Firebird Trans Am in ’69 and the rest, as they say, is history.
And unfortunately, so is Pontiac. On Halloween of 2010 the agreement that was in place between GM and its Pontiac dealers expired, and a slice of Americana went along with it.
Contributed by Fossil Cars Staff Writer