The 1962 Catalina was the welcome to the new design elements of the car. Before the Catalina, there were few sedans on the market designed for performance. The line was so popular that the Catalina lasted up until the 1981 model year. You might notice that the 1962 model looks a lot like the Impala of the period. The 1962 Catalina is a winning combination of performance and design. Consumers loved how warm and inviting the interior was as it offered a good deal of features.
When you look back on Pontiac’s heritage most, enthusiasts will talk about the Firebird or the GTO. But the Catalina was also an important aspect of Pontiac history. The car had a good deal of style and performance that drove consumers into Pontiac showrooms. The 1962 Catalina looked the part of a 60s family sedan, but performed a lot better. Finding a 1962 Catalina can be quite pricey recently. But if you want to get your hands on an early piece of Pontiac history, this is it.
Third generation F-bodies are highly regarded as one of GM’s best vehicle lines. The third generation of the Firebird was very similar to the redesigned Camaro. The 1987 model year brought a few changes that would bring the car into the future. First, there was the TPI fuel-injected engine, which was a vast improvement over the 305 Carbureted motor. Then the interior was redesigned to be a bit more modern. The dashboard had faux carbon fiber across it and the seats were a bit more race-inspired then the Camaro. You can see that a lot of design work went into the 1987 Pontiac Firebird.
The car had several improvements over its predecessors. This Firebird model ended up being one of the best sellers for Pontiac. Step into the Formula version of the car and you were in for a real treat. The 4-speed automatic transmission was enough for most enthusiasts, while the 5-speed manual was short and crisp. The third generation of the F-body was one of the last authentic Firebirds to hit the market. Later years featured a car that was just in the shadow of the Camaro and the Mustang.
There were quite a few rare Pontiac models that hit the road during the 60s and 70s. What exactly was the GT-37? It was a poor man’s GTO. The 1971 Lemans GT-37 was a stripped-down version of The Tempest. You got all of the GTO looks without the GTO price tag. While the car managed to sell in respectable numbers, it was still never as highly regarded as the GTO. Finding one of these is not going to be easy as production numbers were still low.
The 1971 Lemans GT-37 had locking hood pins and the car even had Judge style stripes. The 250hp, 350-cu.in. V-8 was a good option for most people. The engine motivated the heavy car with authority and still made you feel like you were in a GTO. The rather unique design of the car and the stripped-down price tag made it appealing. But most consumers were still trying to get their hands on the Firebird and GTO around this time. Gas prices were also starting to rise and thus, the GT-37 didn’t have a long shelf life.
Where do we even start with the Fiero? It wasn’t a performance car, and it wasn’t necessarily an iconic car either. The Fiero was the product of GM 80s engineering, and the car had some pretty cool features. This was the first mid-engined Pontiac model to hit the market ever. With that being said the car’s only competition was the Toyota MR2. Both cars had their strong suits and both cars were also very cramped. The Fiero, on the other hand, had a whole other issue which was engine fires. Pontiac later rectified this problem, but it was far too late and Fiero was eventually discontinued.
Still, the Fiero is a pretty iconic part of the Pontiac lineage. The car had one of the most unique designs to come out of a GM factory in a long time. At this point, GM was throwing everything that it had to compete with the imports. The Fiero was GMs attempt to lure younger buyers into the showrooms. The car was lightweight and featured an interesting design and had it not been for the engine fire the Fiero would live on.
1989 was another eventful year for the Firebird lineup. There were quite a few models that you could choose from. The first of which was the base Firebird which still offered a potent V6. Then you had the Trans Am, which added a bit of power to the mix. If you were daring, you could get the Formula model. All of the engines were improving now that fuel injection was becoming the norm. Cars were becoming quicker off the line and there were fewer maintenance issues. The Trans AM GTA featured a race-inspired interior and a more aggressive air inlet.
Whichever model you chose, the Firebird was a combination of pure adrenaline and horsepower. The car had many improvements over the standard Camaro. Most traditional Camaro buyers were loyal to the lineup but in a lot of ways, the Firebird was the better car. Sure from the outside, the two looked very similar, but a good deal of design went into the 1989 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. T-Tops were also an option that you could still get on these cars. 1989 was getting closer to the final curtain call of the third-generation cars.
The fourth-generation F-bodies were among some of the best performing muscle cars to come out of GM to this day. What made the fourth gens cool was the fact that they incorporated a Corvette derived LS1 V8 engine. The 2000 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Liftback looked intimidating. Its engine remains one of the most reliable engines that GM ever made. Everything will fall apart around this car before the engine goes. This was a real testament to GM design and ingenuity.
The car was slated to be discontinued for the 2002 model year, at which point Pontiac and Chevy would be out of the Pony car race. The interior was a rather upscale version of the Camaro. The car still featured T-Tops as earlier models did and there was also an option to get a Ram-Air hood and air intake. In addition to the limited edition SLP line which incorporated new performance upgrades right from the factory.
Pontiac surprised the performance community in 2004 with the release of the GTO. There were high hopes for the car as it featured an updated LS-series engine. The 2005 Pontiac GTO was critically panned for the heavyweight of the vehicle. The 2005 GTO increased the standard horsepower and added a few new exterior colors to the mix. Performance-wise the car was a monster, and the stock exhaust note of the GTO was soul-satisfying.
Sadly, this model of the GTO was never a popular choice among pony car buyers. Around this time Dodge was also introducing the Hemi powered Charger Sedan. The GTO had a lot of competition around this time. But aside from the lackluster handling, this was after all a new generation of the legendary GTO. There were Pontiac diehards who had to get their hands on one and see its performance.
2006 was the swan song for the GTO and its the final year of production. For this model, Pontiac increased the horsepower of the vehicle to over 400HP. If that wasn’t enough to entice buyers into Pontiac showrooms, the car also had Euro inspired tail-lights. The 2006 Pontiac GTO was a sad day for many Pontiac enthusiasts because the company was exiting the muscle car arena again.
via: Motor TrendAlthough the car was universally panned over its short existence, the GTO did offer a modern dose of Pontiac’s muscle. Toward the end of the Firebird’s lifespan, it had grown tired and dated. Surprisingly enough, this generation of the GTO found a loyal following in the drifting circuit. The car had a good deal of horsepower and its the rear-wheel-drive which made it the perfect choice.
The final year of the Firebird was a special one. The WS6 was a limited edition that came in white with blue stripes or yellow with black stripes. The car was a fitting end to an era and stood out as a great-looking car. Under the hood was a series of SLP upgrades which made the car immensely faster than a standard Firebird model. Although the Firebird was never as much of a volume seller as the Camaro toward the end, the model still deserved a fitting end. You could also get a WS6 in a T-Top or a convertible version. Both rank highly when it comes to the aftermarket auction block.
The 2002 Firebird is perhaps one of the most iconic cars to come out of GM. It’s not as coveted as an early model Firebird, but if you want a modern rendition, this was it. The WS6 package is known for its performance upgrades over the standard Firebird. The package incorporated a good deal of features that made it both fun and perform well on the road. The Firebird WS6 is a stellar addition to an already storied lineage of muscle cars.
The 1998 Firebird was a revolutionary model in two ways. First, it had a redesign to a modern look. The second was the addition of the Corvette derived LS1 engine. The LS1 is a modern engine all around and this was the same engine that you’d find in the C5 Corvette. Buyers of this Firebird were treated to interior improvements including redesigned seats and a Pontiac-inspired dashboard. The convertible model of the 1998 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am had a power top option, while T-Tops retained their iconic style.
There was also a new and improved Formula option of the Firebird, which added SLP upgrades. SLP was the company that GM would farm all of their performance cars out to. The SLP kit included a beefier air intake and a custom exhaust system. Pound-for-pound, the 1998 Firebird was a whole lot more powerful than the Mustang GT at the time. The 1998 Firebird was a fitting redesign for a car that had a cult following.
The Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2 is a car that you don’t hear a lot about if ever. It was originally designed for the racing circuits. GM was constantly losing compared to the aerodynamic Ford Thunderbird. So they went back to the drawing board to redesign the G-Body cars. Since the G-Body models were some of the best selling cars in the country there was no need for a total redesign. Designers were brought in to tweak the existing design and make it more aerodynamic. The 1987 Grand Prix 2+2 is the product of this marriage.
The first thing that you’ll notice is the sloping rear hatch. The glass is designed to give the car a more aerodynamic presence. For the most part, it worked, and the car had a much better off the line time. The 2+2 design is to replace the bench seat that was in the rear of the generic G-Body coupes. The 2+2 was rare yet the car didn’t sell very well. If you can get your hands on one of these iconic Pontiacs, you’ll be in for something special.
The later years for the Grand Prix weren’t very eventful. And this sedan was just a sportier option for a family sedan. 2002 was an important year because of the addition of the Ram-Air GTP performance model. Whether you picked a coupe or a sedan this was a serious way to drive around and the sedan performed admirably. Pontiac was trying to present an affordable alternative to the boring sedans on the market. The GTP was this solution and it sold like hotcakes. The Grand Prix had generally favorable reviews.
The Grand Prix GTP lived on until the G8 hit the market. Unfortunately by that time, the brand was on the way out. The Grand Prix will live on as one of the more exciting cars of the last few decades. Family sedans were still semi-boring around this time and the Grand Prix provided a handsome solution. You can find these cars on the used market for a dirt-cheap price, and most of them still run well.
2005 was a remarkable year for the Pontiac brand. There were two powerful V8 offerings in the lineup for the first time in years, the GTO and the Grand Prix GXP. The Grand Prix sedan was known for having a V6 powerplant, so it was a surprise to shoppers when the Northstar V8 made its debut. The GXP featured chrome accents throughout the vehicle, as well as custom chrome rims. The Northstar V8 isn’t necessarily a performance-oriented engine but it did offer a good amount of power for a vehicle that was intended to perform.
Interior-wise the GXP got an upmarket treatment over the standard model. This was one of the first Pontiacs to offer a built-in navigation system. The Grand Prix GXP with the V8 was sold in very low numbers which made it a rarity. The GXP was a breath of fresh air for Pontiac enthusiasts as it offered a real performance sedan offering.
Although V8-powered sports cars are generally the way to go, GM has put forth some solid turbocharged V6 offerings in the past. The first that comes to mind is the Buick GNX, and the second would be the Grand Prix Turbo. The Grand Prix Turbo coupe was exciting enough, but there was also a limited edition McLaren ASC edition as well. The performance was derived from a turbocharged version of the original V6 powerplant. The design of the car culminated from the brand’s racing heritage.
The Turbo had an interesting plethora of options such as a heads-up display and a steering wheel that was full of controls. The Grand Prix stands out from the crowd for having a unique exterior styling and one of GMs better V6 powerplants. The ABS was still new on these cars and the wheels had that authentic 90s ABS badging on them. Finding a Grand Prix Turbo from this era might be difficult.
The reason why the Grand Am Coupe is on this list is that it is an iconic model. Before you start writing hate mail, just hear us out. The Grand Am Coupe was one of the few performances oriented mid-size sedans on the market. At a time when cars were generally lackluster the Grand Am was adding a touch of performance to the mix. The Ram-Air edition of the car featured a supercharged engine that gave the lightweight vehicle a serious amount of power.
Coupled with the standout styling features of the car, the Grand Am Coupe was a pretty unique vehicle to say the least. The car had a stellar amount of features for the price. Finding one of these users is a bargain. Sure, Pontiac used a massive amount of body cladding which was panned by the automotive press. But the overall design of the car was noteworthy enough to build a solid following behind the car that still drives it.
Perhaps no car is as universally hated in the automotive industry as the Pontiac Aztek. The car was the birth child of a GM plan to hatch crossover SUVs way before they were a thing. While the Aztek seemed like a great idea on paper, the final product was a dud. The styling was horrific, covered in grey body cladding and an ugly nose. Coupled with the addition of the cars notoriously horrendous V6 engine. The Aztek was smoothed out in its later years but this was not enough to justify sales of the hideous vehicle.
The Aztek gained a huge amount of notoriety long after its demise thanks to the TV show, ‘Breaking Bad.’ Although the SUV was panned for its looks, there has been a recent resurgence on the used car market. Now, all of the sudden, people are interested in this thing. The Aztek surely deserves to go down in history as one of the most iconic Pontiacs on the market.
The Pontiac G8 was the final hurrah of the Pontiac brand and one of the most influential cars to come out. The G8 has the misfortune of hitting the market during the economic collapse. In addition to that, the poor car didn’t stand a chance as GM discontinued the brand for 2009. This means that if you are lucky enough to have a G8m you have one of the rarest cars on the market. The powerful V8 engine and rear-wheel drive design made the sedan a performance powerhouse. Coupled with the noteworthy addition of the GXP model, the G8 is a legendary vehicle.
There was originally a G8 sport truck that was planned as well. Sadly, economic conditions caused the G8 to live a short life and it was only sold for two years. The last G8 rolled off of the assembly line on June 19th, 2009. A total of 23,157 models were sold in 2009, and only four made it to Canada. The G8 was an iconic car in many aspects and it was also the very last Pontiac car every produced.