Home Cars The Best & Worst Cars That Forgotten Brand Pontiac Ever Made
Cars

The Best & Worst Cars That Forgotten Brand Pontiac Ever Made

Cameron EittreimAugust 5, 2022

The Pontiac brand was, at one time, one of the most well-known automotive brands in the world. Part of this was the success of the GTO and the Firebird in the 1960s and 70s. But despite that constant run of success, the brand steadily declined until it was ultimately discontinued in 2010. There was a special place in the hearts of automotive enthusiasts for the Pontiac brand. Pontiac was once known as the “excitement” division at GM. There were good reasons for that as their cars offered great performance and a unique sense of style.

But there have also been many blunders at the Pontiac division. Still, there have been far more successes for Pontiac than failures. The brand had endured decades of change at GM to ultimately become the victim of a poor management structure and a global recession. We looked at the best and worst cars Pontiac has ever made. Strap in, because some of these cars are as good or as bad as you remember.

Photo Credit: Mecum

1960 Pontiac Bonneville (Best)

The 1960 Pontiac Bonneville was a work of art when it hit the market. The styling of the car was all-American with big fins off the rear end and an adequately-appointed interior. Pontiac was doing things differently, and there was not another car on the road that looked as unique as the big and bold Bonneville did (via Fifties Web).

Photo Credit: Mecum

Under the hood of the Bonneville, the excellence in design continued as the car had a powerful 389 CI/303 HP V-8 engine. Motivating this car was the technologically advanced 4-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission. The Bonneville’s design was groundbreaking at the time, and it ushered consumers into a new era of automotive design in the 1960s.

Photo Credit: SMDClassics

1961 Pontiac Tempest (Worst)

Although most drivers equated the 1970s with a time when automakers downsized their vehicles, the 1961 Pontiac Tempest was one of the first compact cars on the road. The car was released in 1961, and it was considered a bargain-driving entry for consumers who wanted something a little different. The styling of the Tempest was reserved when you compared it to the rest of the lineup (via Fifties Web).

Photo Credit: SMDClassics

The Tempest had a flexible cable driveshaft, which was unconventional at the time. The styling of the sedan was not that popular, and the coupe would follow the next year. The 1961 Tempest is by far one of the worst Pontiac models released around this period, and you won’t see one on the road often.

Photo Credit: Classic Cars

1961 Pontiac Ventura (Best)

The 1961 Pontiac Ventura was another car that took advantage of the new company-wide design language. The Ventura was dubbed the “bubble roof” and was one of the first cars to have this design. The bubble roof enabled the interior to be much larger than other cars in the same class, which was a major selling point (via Fifties Web).

Photo Credit: Classic Cars

The 215 HP V8 engine was a major stepping stone for the brand in general. The engine provided some serious performance numbers at a time when automakers weren’t going for performance. With an emphasis on style and performance, the 1961 Pontiac Ventura was one of the best cars in the 1960s.

Photo Credit: RM Sotheby’s

1962 Pontiac Grand Prix (Worst)

The Grand Prix was introduced for the 1962 model year and would be in the Pontiac lineup to the end. Over the years, the Grand Prix went through many changes, but perhaps the first year was the most noticeable. The performance of this Grand Prix was less than what drivers expected for such a large car and there were also reliability issues at the time (via Fifties Web).

Photo Credit: RM Sotheby’s

There was a lot to like about the Grand Prix, but there is a lot more the car did wrong. Pontiac was still toying with the various design ideas for the car, and the first release is never perfect. Years later, the Grand Prix has become a highly sought-after collector’s item in the auto world because of its unique design.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

1963 Pontiac LeMans (Best)

The 1963 Pontiac LeMans was based on the Tempest compact car, but this time the automaker decided to rectify everything wrong with the car. First and foremost, there was a convertible option now, which most consumers had opted for. The performance under the hood of the LeMans was much better than you’d expect from a car in this class (via Fifties Web).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The car only came in a two-door hardtop or a convertible model. The LeMans introduced the world to the Tempest as a midsize car, which was the plan with the model for the future. The Tempest is the car that would ultimately bring us the GTO a few short years later. Performance cars were at the heart of what made the Pontiac lineup great.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

1963 Pontiac Star Chief (Worst)

Buried in the trash heap of old and failed Pontiac models is the 1963 Pontiac Star Chief. The car is a rear-wheel drive sedan sold in the early 1960s. The front-end styling is reminiscent of the early GTO models, but the Star Chief was far from exciting to drive. The off-the-line performance was paltry at best, although it was a rear-wheel drive sedan (via Fifties Web).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The Pontiac Star Chief had a lot that made it compelling for new car shoppers, but the drawbacks far outweighed the advantages of this car. Pontiac is a company at the forefront of automotive design, especially in the performance department. But even John Delorean knew that many of the cars offered by the brand were lackluster at best.

Photo Credit: Mecum

1964 Pontiac LeMans GTO (Best)

The 1964 Pontiac LeMans GTO could best be described as one of the most influential moments in automotive history. There aren’t a lot of moments that happened in the automotive world that were as impressive as this. The GTO was the brainchild of legendary automotive executive John Delorean. And if it hadn’t been for the GTO hitting the market, we might never have the muscle car era that defined the automotive industry in the late 1960s (via Fifties Web).

Photo Credit: Mecum

The 1964 LeMans GTO had one of the best engines ever used in a Pontiac car. The interior was fitted with all kinds of things that the driver would find mandatory in a ride like the GTO. From the rough-edged exterior styling to the noteworthy performance, the LeMans GTO was one of the most impressive cars on the road at the time.

Photo Credit: Hot Rod

1965 Pontiac Catalina (Worst)

The Pontiac Catalina had what it took to be a real contender in the automotive world. The styling of the car looked excellent, the standard features were on point, and the price offered affordability. But the Catalina did not provide a reliable ride when it first hit the market. Pontiac rectified many issues with the Catalina, but the sales numbers never recovered (via Fifties Web).

Photo Credit: Hot Rod

With the current classic car bubble, the Catalina has become sought after. The car does bear a resemblance to the GTO, which is great if you just want an affordable classic car. The Catalina has a large aftermarket community and there are plenty of enthusiasts who can help you with parts and customization.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

1966 Pontiac Grand Prix (Best)

By 1966, the Pontiac Grand Prix commanded authority on the roadway. The Grand Prix was the flag bearer of the Pontiac brand, and it offered an excellent value for the price. The interior was large enough to comfortably seat seven people, and the performance of the V8 engine was satisfied. The Grand Prix is one of the best Pontiac models that hit the market during this period (via Fifties Web).

Photo Credit: Motor 1

Nowadays, with the cost of the GTO and Firebird, the Grand Prix makes a logical investment. Car collectors who want something from the 1960s can’t go wrong with the 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix. There is a large aftermarket parts community and the V8 found in the Grand Prix is among the most reliable.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

1967 Pontiac Executive (Worst)

The 1967 Pontiac Executive is not a well-known model like the GTO or the Firebird. The Executive had a distinct style, very different from the rest of the lineup. The Executive replaced the long-running Star Chief model in the lineup, although the general consumer did not embrace the new model (via Fifties Web).

Photo Credit: Motor 1

The 400 CID V8 would propel the Executive with authority. The problem was the massive curb weight of the car. Pontiac had pivoted to be the excitement brand in the GM portfolio. The Executive just never caught on with consumers who entered the Pontiac showroom with excitement on their minds.

Photo Credit: MFP Classic Cars

1968 Pontiac GTO 400 Ram Air I Series (Best)

If you were a kid in the 1960s or 1970s, you are familiar with the relationship Pontiac had with Ram Air. The Ram Air partnership would stay in effect until the 2002 Firebird model. The 1968 Pontiac GTO 400 Ram Air I Series took the performance of the base model to the next level with a forced induction system (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: MFP Classic Cars

The Ram Air GTO model is among the most sought-after GTO on the market. The performance from the factory is exhilarating, but modern modifications can be taken even further. The GTO is a legendary Pontiac model and there were far more trim packages for the car than most enthusiasts realize.

Photo Credit: SM Classic Cars

1969 Pontiac Custom S Series (Worst)

You might have a double take when you look at the 1969 Pontiac Custom S Series. The car is indeed a vehicle that shares a platform with the Pontiac GTO. The Custom S Series was a base model car that came in a coupe, sedan, convertible, and wagon. The performance was far less impressive than the GTO model and the Custom S Series was geared toward value-oriented consumers and families (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: SM Classic Cars

The 1969 Pontiac Custom S Series was originally meant to be called the “TC” and would slot in between the Tempest and LeMans in price. Finding one on the used market is not easy, because the car did not sell like the more well-known LeMans model did. You’d be better off saving up and just obtaining an original GTO.

Photo Credit: SM Classic Cars

1970 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400 Series (Best)

The Pontiac Firebird Formula 400 Series was the Firebird model that broke the mold. Pontiac positioned the Firebird above the Camaro in terms of refinement and performance. The 400 Series took the performance to the next level with a car cut for the track. A low-slung exterior only amplified the performance-oriented look and feel of the car (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: SM Classic Cars

The 1970 Firebird also introduced the world to the next generation of the GM F-Body car. The styling was radically different than the outgoing generation. GM intended to take Ford head-on with the new design of the car and it proved popular. The Firebird’s design would stay the same until the third generation car was introduced in the 1980s.

Photo Credit: Classic Cars Bay

1971 Pontiac Grand Ville (Worst)

Have you ever heard of the Pontiac Grand Ville? Probably not, the car has faded into obscurity over the past couple of decades. The Grand Ville displaced the Pontiac Bonneville in the lineup. Pontiac positioned the Grand Ville at the top of the lineup, but the car was a massive vehicle to drive. You’d almost mistake the Pontiac Grand Ville for a Cadillac of some sort because of the massive styling (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Classic Cars Bay

The Pontiac Grand Ville had some interesting quirks and features but it wasn’t enough to get the car to be a sales success. With the recent interest in custom cars, the Grand Ville has started to increase in value. But good luck finding one for sale anymore, there are very few still around. If you can find a Grand Ville, it will usually be a car in clean mint condition, but you’ll pay for it.

Photo Credit: Mecum

1972 Pontiac Ventura II (Best)

The 1972 Pontiac Ventura II was the best of both worlds because you got a compact performance car and the aggressive look of the larger GTO model. There were only 72,787 examples of the car produced, in retrospect GM produced over 145,531 examples of the Chevrolet Nova. The Ventura II was a success for the division and the car is still a popular choice today (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Mecum

The Ventura II was a great car in every aspect, and the fact that there were so many built means you can find one fairly easily. With a little work, the Ventura II can be restored easily. There is a lot about the car to like, and the performance of the factory motor was exhilarating.

Photo Credit: Bring a Trailer

Pontiac 1973 Grand Safari (Worst)

For some strange reason, GM continually tried to make the Pontiac brand a shadow of Chevrolet. You had some models that were high performance, and you had some that were geared toward regular consumers. The Pontiac 1973 Grand Safari is a station wagon that wasn’t particularly high performance by any stretch of the imagination (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Invaluable

The Grand Safari had a lot that was likable but it just didn’t fit in with the Pontiac brand portfolio. The car didn’t pop out to you when you first looked at it. The car has increased in value in recent years due to the demand for classic cars, but that doesn’t mean it is a good deal. There are much better options on the classic car market that will provide you with more driving fun.

Photo Credit: Classic

1974 Pontiac Firebird (Best)

The 1974 Pontiac Firebird was slightly updated for the model year, with a more modern aerodynamic front clip and a revised interior. The performance under the hood of the Firebird was still impressive, considering the competition and regulations at the time. The 1974 version had one of the lowest production runs in the car’s history, so finding one isn’t easy (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: MCE Cars

In terms of notoriety and sheer performance, the 1974 Pontiac Firebird model is among the best. With modern upgrades, you can get quite a bit of horsepower out of this car. The same could be said for the Camaro from the same generation, but the Firebird had that unique look and feel that the Chevy didn’t.

Photo Credit: Classic Cars

1975 Pontiac Astre (Worst)

The 1975 model year marked the beginning of a new era in the automotive industry. The fuel crisis of the 1970s was in full swing and automakers were rushing to bring compact fuel-efficient models into the market. The Pontiac Astre was a subcompact car with no personality whatsoever; in fact, the car was bare-bones basic (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Classic Cars

The Astre had a few unique features and the GT package had a unique look. The stock performance was not exciting, but in recent years the aftermarket community has breathed new life into the car. Nowadays, there are many custom modifications and upgrades that you can do to the Astre.

Photo Credit: Mecum

1976 Pontiac Anniversary Edition Trans Am (Best)

1976 was an important year for the Pontiac division at GM because it was the 50th year of production. With that kind of celebration, there had to be a special edition car. The 1976 Pontiac Anniversary Edition Trans Am is similar to the car made famous in Smokey and the Bandit. The car came with a powerful V8 engine and a special gold and black pinstripe paint job (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Mecum

The 1976 Pontiac Anniversary Edition Trans Amis is by far one of the most desirable models on the road. If you are looking to collect Pontiac cars, then this is the one for you. The 50th anniversary of any company only comes around once in a lifetime, and the Firebird is a notorious model. The GM F-Body cars were a piece of history, and that means collecting them is in high demand.

Photo Credit: My Classic Garage

1977 Bonneville Brougham (Worst)

The Bonneville Brougham is a special edition of the top-flight Pontiac sedan sold for decades. What the Brougham did is bring the Bonneville into the next stage of luxury. The problem with the Brougham was that GM positioned Pontiac as the excitement division within the company. Which meant a plush cruising sedan didn’t make sense for a brand focused on performance vehicles (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: My Classic Garage

If the Bonneville Brougham looks familiar, that is because it shares a basic design with the Chevrolet Caprice. The Brougham did provide a luxurious experience, but the car fell short when it came to styling. Pontiac buyers wanted something different in a car, and the Bonneville Brougham seemed like the confused cousin of a Cadillac.

Photo Credit: Fotki

1978 Pontiac Catalina Freeway Enforcer (Best)

Long before Ford ruled the law enforcement vehicle market, almost every domestic automaker had its hands in it. General Motors offered a few models across its brand portfolio. The Pontiac Catalina Freeway Enforcer was just one example that proved to be immensely popular with police departments. The styling of the car was aggressive and got the job done (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Fotki

Under the hood, the car packed a massive 400-cubic inch V8 engine. This kind of power gave Catalina an impressive performance in high-speed pursuits. The inside of the car was spacious, with plenty of room for the bad guys and all the gear that a police officer needed to carry. While Crown Victoria might be the modern-day hero in performance police cars, the Catalina used to rule the roost.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

1979 Pontiac Phoenix (Worst)

Talk about rare, the Pontiac Phoenix was at one point the slowest-selling Pontiac model on the market. The car was based on the X platform and intended to be a fuel saver for the brand. But the weird styling of the car and questionable build quality caused the sales numbers to make a nosedive. Sales were so bad that the Phoenix lineup didn’t stick around. You’ll seldom see a Phoenix on the road, and if you do, the car invokes many questions by curious people (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

The Phoenix boasted many performance options, but the car still remained obscure compared to the Chevy Nova. The interior didn’t offer many upgrades, and the Pontiac dealership network was a lot smaller. You’ll still find one of these every once in a while, but the resale value is nothing compared to what a Chevy Nova from the same year will fetch.

Photo Credit: G Body Forum

1980 Pontiac Grand Safari (Best)

Wagons were big business in the 1980s and even Pontiac sold them. The Grand Safari is the first wagon model that comes to mind when you think about Pontiac in the early 1980s. The car had a unique look to it with lots of wood paneling, which isn’t exactly what comes to mind when you think of Pontiac. But then the car also boasted a massive amount of interior volume, which was the main selling feature. Pontiac thought the Safari would appeal to consumers with a growing family (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: G Body Forum

The 1980 Grand Safari came in many body styles, and it was one of Pontiac’s main sellers. The car has a unique look that you won’t see much of today. That doesn’t mean you should run out and find one, as the Safari is hard to come by. Most of these cars were rusted out and left in the junkyard. The Grand Safari wagon models still around were either one owner’s vehicle or they are in bad shape after years of neglect.

Photo Credit: GM Authority

1981 Pontiac T1000 (Worst)

There was a point in time when GM went through a phase of giving new vehicle nameplates a futuristic twist. The eighties were a new era after all, and the T1000 was one of the first brand new models. The car was a subcompact that shared its platform with the Chevrolet Chevette, which was the best-selling subcompact car in the United States at the time. The T1000, on the other hand, didn’t fare well because it was not accepted by Pontiac loyalists (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: GM Authority

The Pontiac T1000 did not catch on with consumers, and the sales were remarkably slow. The car was eventually discontinued and replaced by the Daewoo-designed LeMans subcompact. These early GM subcompact models were not the most appealing cars on the road. But, the automakers in the U.S. had to try and do something to compete with foreign competitors.

Photo Credit: Moment Car

1982 Pontiac J2000 Hatchback (Best)

Look too fast and you might mistake the Pontiac J2000 for a Japanese hatchback from this era, but it was one of Pontiac’s most popular models. The hunt for a fuel-efficient flagship was never ending in the 1980s, and GM rolled out several models. The J2000 was the compact hatchback model Pontiac offered. It was available in four trim levels, including a convertible. The car proved to be a sales success and the performance wasn’t bad either (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Moment Car

Enthusiasts who seek something unique from the 1980s could do worse than the J2000. The car had a lot of potential and there are quite a few aftermarket parts makers for the car. The J2000 came with a four-on-the-floor gear shifter and a noteworthy interior. Although the performance was not all that great, the car did have a stylish look at the time.

Photo Credit: Moment Car

1983 Pontiac 6000 (Worst)

The Pontiac 6000 was one of the first new Pontiac models in decades. While that proved great for publicity, the car itself did not offer anything unique or sporty. Aside from the seemingly futuristic nameplate, the Pontiac 6000 was a basic family sedan and coupe. The V6 engine had many reliability issues, and the build quality was not all that good. The 4.3-liter V-6 diesel is considered one of the worst engines GM has ever built (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Moment Car

The Pontiac 6000 had a lot of downfalls that caused the car to get a bad reputation. The engine choices were poor and the build quality wasn’t up to snuff. The Pontiac 6000 would stay on the market for a long time. The main problem with the 6000 was that it was in the same class as the Grand Prix. Consumers were confused by how the 6000 was so similar to the Grand Prix model. The Pontiac lineup would continue to evolve throughout the 1980s, and the 6000 was eventually discontinued.

Photo Credit: Bring a Trailer

1984 Pontiac Fiero (Best)

1984 marked the year the first mid-engined Pontiac ever hit the market. The Fiero had many issues with the design that centered around the engine placement. There were engine fires, and the performance of the first models was not that great. But GM worked on the design and issued many recalls that rectified the problems. The Fiero was also an official Pacecar for NASCAR racing, as GM was looking to increase awareness of the new design (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Bring a Trailer

One of the main problems with the Fiero for many consumers was that it was a two-seater. Aside from that, the Fiero was also only available with a single engine choice. If you were looking for a high-performance solution, you wouldn’t find it here. But the Fiero had a lot of advantages, and the driving characteristics were top-notch. When it comes to historic Pontiac models, the Fiero should not be overlooked as it was an excellent sports car.

Photo Credit: Mind Over Motor

1985 Pontiac Parisienne (Worst)

Even by the mid-1980s, there was still confusion about certain brands within the Pontiac line. The Parisienne was a full-size sedan that took a lot of the luxury appoints from the Cadillac models of the time. The problem was that GM heavily leaned into marketing the Pontiac brand as the excitement division. The Parisienne was very luxurious but the performance was lackluster at best. The car didn’t sell well, although Pontiac would continue to improve upon it (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

The 305 5.0L motor is considered one of the worst motors that GM had ever built. The motor was dramatically underpowered considering the heavy curb weight of the 1985 Pontiac Parisienne. The car has grown in popularity in recent years, as more of the 1980s cars became popular. The 1985 Pontiac Parisienne will continue to be one of the most forgotten Pontiac models from this era.

Photo Credit: Hot Rod

1986 Pontiac 2+2 (Best)

The Pontiac brand was a major contender in NASCAR in the 1980s and 1990s and the Grand Prix was at the forefront. This meant there was a market for a consumer version of the car. That idea led executives at GM to design a consumer version of the NASCAR, which was the Pontiac 2+2. Take a look at the design of the car, and you might seem like the Grand Prix model. But, the car was designed from the ground up to have a more aerodynamic design (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Hot Rod

The 2+2 was not a best seller for GM, but it proved popular with diehard Pontiac loyalists. The fact that you could get a mainstream NASCAR-style car was pretty cool. The design did have a lot of improvement over the generic Grand Prix model, and the performance was a little better. The 2+2 has become the collector’s item in recent years, with value for the car continuing to rise as time goes on.

Photo Credit: Car Specs

1987 Pontiac 6000 LE (Worst)

The 1987 Pontiac 6000 LE was the next and final revision for the 6000 line. At this point, the 6000 LE was being positioned as a family-friendly offering for consumers. The thing that made the car great was the V6 engine, but the rest of the car was junk. The interior parts were notorious for falling off the car. The sales of the 6000 LE had started to decline at this point. GM would eventually get rid of the car altogether in the 1990s (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Car Specs

The 6000 LE was the furthest thing from what you’d expect a Pontiac model to be. The styling was bland at a time when the brand was in a transition period. The car shared far too much sheet metal with other vehicles in the GM brand portfolio. For the price the 6000 LE was being sold for, it didn’t make sense for consumers to purchase one.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

1988 Pontiac Grand Am (Best)

The Pontiac Grand Am, released in 1988, built on the success of the Pontiac lineup and introduced a new modern compact car. It boasted a more refined V6 engine, and the styling was greatly accepted at the time. The Grand Am was available in a two-door and a four-door model, and consumers liked the increased fuel economy. The advertising for the Grand Am showcased the functionality and fuel economy that the new model achieved (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

The Grand Am would stay in production until the demise of the Pontiac brand. The car had many great features, and the design is still one of the most storied Pontiac models. GM had a tough time adapting to the new compact car market, but the Grand Am was a success. The car had everything that new consumers were looking for at the time.

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

1989 Pontiac Grand Prix (Worst)

The 1989 Pontiac Grand Prix introduced a completely new design to the storied model line. The Grand Prix for 1989 was the first car in the model’s history to forego a V8 power plant. Instead, GM focused the product line on a few V8 engine offerings, one of which was a turbo-powered variant. With the main competition for the two-door Grand Prix being the Ford Thunderbird, the car was greatly underpowered. The interior was a mess of switches, odd design pieces, and strange seating (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

There were some decent aspects of the Grand Prix. The seats were well bolstered for the time, and the quality of the interior materials was high. The car also had a handsome exterior considering how blocky the previous Pontiac models were. But the shortcomings make the 1989 model one of the worst that Pontiac had made. There were better options than the Grand Prix in the same model year.

Photo Credit: Bring a Trailer

1990 Pontiac Sunbird (Best)

As a brand, Pontiac attempted to appeal to young consumers who wanted a car with an attitude. The Sunbird was a cheap compact car based on the Chevrolet Cavalier. To separate the car from the lowly Chevrolet Cavalier, there were many exterior enhancements, as well as performance enhancements. When you look at the Sunbird, there is no way to mistake this car for just another Cavalier (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Bring a Trailer

The automotive press praised the Sunbird for its innovative design. The Pontiac division was working toward getting younger people into the showrooms, and the Sunbird did exactly that. The car was an excellent vehicle in every sense of the design. The convertible model proved to be especially popular in terms of sales numbers.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

1991 Pontiac Trans Sport (Worst)

The Chrysler minivans released in the 1980s ended up being successful, and every other automaker tried to follow suit. GM went the futuristic route with their minivans, and the Trans Sport was one of these. It was dubbed the “dust buster” by the automotive press at the time. The styling was downright ugly, and the performance of the van wasn’t great either (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Motor 1

Trans Sport never achieved any serious sales numbers. It was hard for the car to attract a customer base due to the polarizing styling and lack of functionality. The Chrysler minivans were far better when it came to value and quality. GM would continue to sell the Trans Sport until the van was redesigned for the 1996 model year.

Photo Credit Car Domain

1992 Pontiac Grand Am (Best)

In 1992, the Pontiac Grand Am was completely redesigned from the ground up. The styling was new and modern, and the interior was also brought into the mainstream. The styling of this Grand Am model is the design language Pontiac would use for the next two decades. The car was modern and compact, with reasonable performance. Consumers reacted well to the styling of the car, and it was one of the best-selling Grand Ams (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit Car Domain

If there is one Pontiac model that defined the early 1990s, it was the Grand Am. The styling of the car was universally accepted by the automotive public. GM had many controversial designs around this period, but the Grand Am managed to stand out from the crowd. The Grand Am would continue to be a success for the Pontiac brand for many years. This variation of the Grand Am is by far one of the most sought-after due to its unique styling.

Photo Credit: Zomb Drive

1993 Pontiac LeMans (Worst)

The Pontiac LeMans of the early 1990s was the ultimate junk car. The car got its design from Daewoo, a Korean automaker that had a partnership with GM during this time. The automotive press panned the LeMans for having a cheap interior design and questionable reliability. The LeMans was so bad that there were even reports of these cars breaking down as soon as they left the dealer (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Zomb Drive

The LeMans was not a good selling model for Pontiac. It would be the last subcompact model until the Wave was released in 2004. The market for a subcompact Pontiac model was not what GM had hoped. It turns out that customers who want a subcompact want something reliable and styling. The LeMans was neither of these things and was dropped from the lineup.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

1994 Pontiac Firebird (Best)

The 1994 Pontiac Firebird model was a groundbreaking advancement for the GM F-Body cars. the Firebird had an LT1 engine, which was shared with the Corvette. The styling of the Firebird was largely different than the Camaro with which it shared a platform. The interior was much more modern, and the exterior was very different. Some would argue the Firebird was always the better looking of the two cars, and the 1994 model personified this (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Motor 1

The fourth generation Firebird model is also the last variation of the Firebird ever built. GM canceled the line in 2002, along with the Camaro, and the Pontiac division was closed in 2010. The Firebird is one of the last unique Pontiac cars that you’ll still see on the road. But even the fourth-generation models are becoming harder to come by.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

1995 Pontiac Sunfire (Worst)

For the 1995 model year, the Sunbird was redesigned and renamed the Sunfire. The car went from being a unique compact car offering to a carbon copy of the Chevrolet Cavalier. There was nothing unique about this version of the car. Gone was the unique styling that made the Sunbird a one-of-a-kind car (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The Sunfire would maintain the respectable sales numbers of the previous car, but it was never the same as before. The Sunfire lost the unique identity that enticed buyers. Instead, you got a carbon copy of the Cavalier, and that just didn’t cut the mustard. The Cavalier had a bread and butter design, and the Sunfire needed to be unique.

Photo Credit: Mecum

1996 Pontiac Bonneville (Best)

The 1996 Pontiac Bonneville was a unique car, with a twist of modern styling and technology. The plush ride of the car enticed traditional buyers, but the supercharged version made it into a sport sedan. The Bonneville had some of the best stylings of the time, and the interior was luxurious for the price tag (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Mecum

If you were lucky enough to get the SSE-I version of the car, you had one of the best sports sedans that GM has built. The SSE-I came with a lot of luxury features for the price, and the supercharged engine was the icing on the cake. The Bonneville from this generation has become a sought-after vehicle.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

1997 Pontiac Grand Am (Worst)

By 1997, the Grand Am was outdated and outclassed by the competition. While GM would release an updated model the next year, the 1997 model didn’t offer anything unique. The engine is considered one of the least reliable, as GM switched to using Dex-Cool in all their vehicles. The performance of the Grand Am from this year is lackluster and there were far better cars on the market (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

The 1997 Pontiac Grand Am model is not the most satisfactory in terms of the history of the car. There are much better options available on the market. The Grand Am from this era has become harder to find. Part of that is because the car was not that popular with consumers. You’ll seldom see one of these on the road anymore because they just didn’t make sense.

Photo Credits: Pinterest

1998 Pontiac Firebird Formula (Best)

For the 1998 model year, the Firebird got a mid-cycle refresh. The car was much more modern and the front end was also redone. The interior would also see a major improvement over the previous models. But it was what was new under the hood that got the automotive world talking. The Firebird Formula got the same LS1 V8 engine that you got in the C5 Corvette. Which meant you got Corvette performance for thousands less (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Jay Leno’s Garage

So what happened? Well, by this point in time, consumers were ready to move on from two-door sports cars. SUV models were all the rage, and GM was losing money on the performance vehicles. That meant the fourth generation F-Body cars would be canceled for the 2002 model year. Still, just from a performance standpoint, this is one of the best Firebird models you can get on the road.

Photo Credit: GM Authority

1999 Pontiac Grand Prix (Worst)

For 1999, the Grand Prix grew but not in a good way. The car went from being the slender, well-designed pinnacle of GM design, to a cushioned large family sedan that shared its underpinnings with Buick and Oldsmobile models. That isn’t to say this generation of the Grand Prix was horrible. But, it wasn’t the best car you could get for the money (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: GM Authority

This generation of the Grand Prix was still notable, the car had a decent run in the NASCAR circuit. GM would try to position this Grand Prix as the exciting family car. Unfortunately, the only people who bought into that hype were rental car fleets and consumers looking for a deal on something heavily discounted.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

2000 Pontiac Bonneville (Best)

For the 2000 model year, the Pontiac Bonneville was completely redesigned and could be considered one of the best redesigns in automotive history. The car was completely changed from the ground up, perhaps most noticeable was the styling. But under the hood, the new Bonneville also packed a punch with a supercharged V6 engine (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

The car proved popular with consumers, something that the outgoing Bonneville model never did. Consumers were fond of the bold styling, and the engine provided a nice boost in power. This is by far one of the most common generations of the Bonneville that you’ll still see on the road today.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

2001 Pontiac Aztek (Worst)

Is there any surprise that the Aztek is one of the worst Pontiac models ever made? Probably not. But still, take one look at the car even today, and you will instantly recognize it. The Aztek was the ultimate blend of ugliness and lack of functionality. There was nothing to like about the car at all. The Aztek had some unique features, such as a built-in drink cooler that was also removable. But the design of the car was hideous and most consumers couldn’t get over it (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

Surprisingly enough, after the widespread success of the hit TV show “Breaking Bad,” where Walter White drove a Pontiac Aztek, the car experienced a resurgence. Now the Aztek is an expensive proposition on the used car market. But, you know that the car is still quite ugly, and no popularity will ever disguise that fact.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

2002 Pontiac Grand Am (Best)

The 2001 Grand Am rectified many issues that the model had in the previous years. But most notable was the GT model, which came with a Ram Air forced induction setup. The Grand Am Ram Air is one of the rarest Pontiac models on the road. Not because of a limited production run, but because you can’t find them anymore (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

On top of that, there were quite a few new improvements made to the car. The interior had many higher-quality materials, and the dashboard was slightly redesigned. The car also got a new high-end sound system, and GM was also introducing a new tracking system. If you can get your hands on a two-door Grand Am with the Ram Air setup you are in for driving pleasure.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

2003 Pontiac Vibe (Worst)

The 2003 Pontiac Vibe was born out of a long-standing relationship that GM had with Toyota. Many cars came out of this partnership, most notably the Prizm. But the Vibe was a poor excuse for badge engineering if there ever was one. The car was a Toyota Matrix with a redesigned front clip and a lot of body cladding (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Motor 1

If you remember Pontiac was heavily into using body cladding around this period. The Vibe was wrapped in more body cladding than the equally ugly Aztek model. The Vibe didn’t sell very well, and consumers were confused about why this model was in the Pontiac lineup. The Matrix was much better for essentially the same car.

2008-pontiac-grand-prix-photo-199089-s-original
Photo Credit: GM

2004 Pontiac Grand Prix (Best)

The redesign of the 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix is the last redesign that the Grand Prix line would get. Pontiac would be dissolved for the 2010 model year, and the Grand Prix was no more. But in the meantime, the car was a great redesign, and it even brought back the V8 engine to the Grand Prix lineup in the form of the Northstar V8 (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

Sadly, by this point in time, the Grand Prix was not a good seller for Pontiac. The car had a lot of issues, and the consumers were just not that into the brand anymore. Considering Pontiac had let the Firebird go a few years prior, the Grand Prix was sort of the odd-duck. The car couldn’t hold a candle to offerings from Honda or Toyota in terms of quality

Photo Credits: GM

2005 Pontiac GTO (Worst)

The resurgence of the GTO brand name in the 2000s is probably one of the biggest automotive letdowns in history. Consumers expected something great, and what they got was a rebadged Holden model from overseas. The styling was bland and sedate, especially when you considered the storied history of the GTO brand (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The GTO would be discontinued shortly after this model year. The car wasn’t the success that GM had hoped for. Consumers were ready for something unique that would hearken back to the history of the brand. But what they got was something that made no sense. The car was nothing like what you’d expect the next generation GTO model to be.

Photo Credit: GM

2006 Pontiac Torrent (Best)

The first Pontiac SUV had a nameplate that an entire generation knew. GM chose to name the SUV the “Torrent”, which was equated with the massively popular file-sharing of a generation. The Torrent was based on the Chevrolet Equinox, which was a new SUV that was the replacement for the Tracker (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: GM

The Torrent did everything right, it was a quintessential upgrade over the bland Equinox model. There were sportier wheels, the body was nicer, and there were quite a few unique paint colors. The Torrent would prove to be one of the better badge engineering jobs that have come out of GM. The sales of the Torrent were also respectable, so although it was not a unique Pontiac, it was a great SUV.

Photo Credit: GM

2007 Pontiac Solstice (Worst)

Right towards the end of the Pontiac brand, GM would choose to release a roadster. The car had all the makings that made the Mazda Miata great. The problem was that it was decades too late. At this point, the Miata ruled the compact roadster market and no other car was going to intrude on that (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: GM

The Solstice was buggy and cheap and there were better options on the market. The car just felt half finished, and that put a damper on the sales. Not to mention the 2008 Recession, which would also spell the end for the Pontiac brand. The GM restructuring effort just didn’t deem the Pontiac brand profitable. The Solstice has since become a rare vehicle that you don’t see often.

Advertisement
Please wait 5 sec.