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View Full Version : Are Pontiacs the "Studebakers" of the future?



64V19816
07-15-2012, 07:15 AM
A well respected old make with lots of interesting cars, a large fan base and lots of survivors?

556063
07-15-2012, 08:59 AM
A HUGE part of the love for Studebaker that kept the story going was they were an "Underdog". Studebaker's market share was minuscule, but had a loyal core. I'm not sure that type of loyalty exists anymore. A product has to be as good as or better than everyone else's to sell in any numbers period. And, brands don't mean what they used to to people.

GM market share has dropped from 25-30% to a current level at about 17%. Most has been lost the past five years.

I'm not sure GM can afford to abandon what goodwill they had with Pontiac forever. But in today's fickle loyalty, the clock is ticking. Especially since GM market share is currently where Chrysler's was in the US in 1998. I think you would have had a hard time convincing anyone here over 45 on the Forum that they were going to live long enough to see GM's share shrink this much. IF the economy comes back, the company returns to full public or private ownership, and GM intends to grow again, I don't think it would take much to include some lower priced, sporty models badged as Pontiacs for the dealers who now only have Buick - GMC. Those dealers are COMPLETELY locked out of the low end of the market, and would likely welcome product that would put them back in it.

I think Pontiac was targeted simply because of it's performance heritage by the incompetents that now run the company. Pontiac had no place in a "Green" automaker. The last proposal before the current GM structure was mandated by the government included keeping Pontiac in a similar structure as I propose. The divisional status of Pontiac and it's separate marketing structure are likely gone for good. I think as those "running" GM continue to discover their dealer body and marketing channels were one of their top selling tools, they will wake up and realize their brand cuts were too deep. Particularly Pontiac.

If the economy plugs along in low gear for an extended period, Pontiac is likely gone for good.

Studebaker never enjoyed having such a large organization behind them. Many here probably still refuse to consider Pontiac a full "orphan". But a brand has never become an "orphan" before the same year it had a top ten selling model (G6). Pontiac is in uncharted "orphan" territory.

The circumstances surrounding Pontiac are vastly different from those that launched Studebaker into orphancy.

8E45E
07-15-2012, 09:14 AM
I think Oldsmobile is a better comparison to Studebaker. Like John & Clem, Ransom Eli Olds was a visionary with humble beginnings. Both companies were very innovative at the beginning, and each pioneered a few motoring inventions along the way. Even under the GM umbrella, Oldsmobile has some autonomy (along with the other divisions) until the late 1960's while Studebaker carried along as an independent. In the end, it was not their respective divisions that wanted to stop making cars, but their Boards of Directors. (I won't get into who called the shots in 2009 and told GM what lines to drop)

Craig

1962larksedan
07-15-2012, 10:23 AM
One thing to remember that Olds and Pontiac had their 'day' many years ago and by the 1990's neither was anything special IMHO with the exceptions of the Solstice, G8 and GTO. In other words; Chevy could cover Pontiac and Buick subbed for Oldsmobile.

556063
07-15-2012, 12:38 PM
One thing to remember that Olds and Pontiac had their 'day' many years ago and by the 1990's neither was anything special IMHO with the exceptions of the Solstice, G8 and GTO. In other words; Chevy could cover Pontiac and Buick subbed for Oldsmobile.

If GM is to do without Pontiac then they had better start giving Buick more market coverage. I would argue market penetration wise, Buick was better poised for orphancy than Pontiac in the U.S. But, Buick has a sterling quality record (because of lower sales?) and is highly successful in overseas markets. I see no effort to expand Buick beyond the piddly four models offered now. Buick does not have the same market coverage Lexus, Acura, or Infiniti does. Buick-GMC stand alone stores have to be hurting. It's painfully obvious where GM was deriving it's volume had little to do with the final brand decisions. If they want to pare the company down to two brands only like Toyota, lookout below for 10-15% Market Share and tons of pain yet to come for GM. Well, I guess Toyota did expand to three. With the Pontiac like Scion marque.

Getting back to keeping the thread Studebaker related, Studebaker put themselves inside a box in similar ways to what GM has recently by abandoning larger cars for only the Lark. Of course, no resources were available to do anything else at Studebaker. Studebaker's dealer network was weak.

GM's dealer network WAS the envy of the industry. Someone is going to have to manage and direct GM through the next phase of the restructuring. It's current management team is not up to that challenge. Who ends up calling the shots at GM the next few years will predict the future. Let's hope it's not Byers Burlingame.

SN-60
07-15-2012, 01:04 PM
To: 64V19816,------I like older Pontiacs, but really can't see any direct comparisons between the two marques. (other than they're both out of production)

jclary
07-15-2012, 02:07 PM
One thing about Studebaker, with their losing market share, lack of capital to fund new development, and the business circumstances that have supplied lessons for academic management classes through the years...they will never be known as Chevrolet clad in plastic and labeled as something they were not.

Even with the Skybolt six, and 283, as the company breathed its last as an automaker...they were unmistakably Studebaker.

Pontiac had a great run, but few manufacturers can or will ever match the rich history that is encompassed by Studebaker. Difficult to see how they could engender the following of the SDC. However, stranger things have happened. Who, but for the few visionaries of our founding, could have seen what the SDC has become?

1962larksedan
07-15-2012, 03:26 PM
Back to Studebaker dropping their bigger cars for the Lark; that was an excellent move IMHO because by 1958, the company was dying. Too, the. Lark was the Commander/President with excess overhang removed.

Corvanti
07-15-2012, 04:37 PM
One thing to remember that Olds and Pontiac had their 'day' many years ago and by the 1990's neither was anything special IMHO with the exceptions of the Solstice, G8 and GTO. In other words; Chevy could cover Pontiac and Buick subbed for Oldsmobile.

the Solstice (and Saturn Sky) were the "new" Opel GT's. http://www.rsportscars.com/opel/2007-opel-gt/

and the new GTO and G8 were from Holden in OZ. as is the new camaro.

not that there's anything wrong with that! ;)

i miss the old "wide-tracks" - have owned several... but globally (read: China) - they love the Buicks. :ohmy:

bezhawk
07-15-2012, 04:50 PM
I like pre 70 Pontiacs, except for GTOs. At least they aren't Chevys!;) But, them being part of a larger corporate giant, doesn't give them the orphan appeal of the independents.

1962larksedan
07-15-2012, 06:18 PM
I like pre 70 Pontiacs, except for GTOs. At least they aren't Chevys!;) But, them being part of a larger corporate giant, doesn't give them the orphan appeal of the independents.

In all fairness: many of the 1971-79 Pontiacs were pretty decent; at least those powered by Pontiac 400-455 V8's. Even the 1979 Trans-Am TA 400 (4 spd only) was quite a machine by late 1970's standards. :)

Dick Steinkamp
07-15-2012, 06:25 PM
"I think Pontiac was targeted simply because of it's performance heritage"...I guess everyone is entitled to their opinion, but Pontiac's "performance heritage" was essentially in the 1960's (along with most other car makers, including Studebaker). I love that era for Pontiac, but after 1970 or so I have a hard time thinking of "Pontiac" and "performance" in the same sentence. The exception would be the G8, but that was a 2 year only model (in the US), and didn't sell well. By the end of 2008 they had sold 13,000 and had 11,000 in unsold inventory. With a fairly major drop in price, they sold a total of about 30,000 through the 2009 model year and had 5,000 left over.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontiac_G8

When the market is telling you that "performance" and "Pontiac" don't go together, it's a good idea to believe it. How many potential customers do you honestly think equate "Pontiac" with "performance"? My "opinion" is that essentially everything that was being sold in the Pontiac line up was duplicated by Chevrolet or Buick. The market just wasn't buying badge engineering and something had to go...it wasn't going to be Chevrolet or Buick. I would think if "performance heritage" was a live or die criteria, we wouldn't still have a Corvette or Camaro or those high HP Cadillacs.

I'm also having a hard time with "market share" as the most important measure of a company's viability. Certainly the US automakers missed the boat when the market grew from essentially just North America and Europe to the WHOLE world, AND when they underestimated the quality and depth of offerings that Asian companies could bring, AND when they stopped listening to customers and built what THEY wanted to build, but GM isn't doing too badly. GM is #1 in the world in auto sales with over 9 million units sold in 2011 http://www.forbes.com/sites/michelinemaynard/2012/01/19/gm-is-back-in-the-auto-sales-drivers-seat/ . GM sold more Chevrolets in the first quarter of 2011 than ANY quarter in its history http://www.mlive.com/auto/index.ssf/2011/04/gm_chevrolet_reports_best_sale.html. Perhaps they've topped even that by now?

Certainly if GM had taken foreign competition seriously, realized it's a big world out there, and built what their customers were asking for, they would probably have an even bigger market share. But here's an analogy...

You open a gas station in a small town. You are the only gas station in town. You have 100% market share. You're pumping 500 gallons/day. An interstate highway is built within blocks of your station. 3 other stations immediately open on the other 3 corners of your location. You now have 25% market share and are pumping 2,000 gallons/day. As a business man I'll take door #2.

The real measure of a company's success is of course profits. GM is making money for the first time in a LONG time. They are doing something right for the first time in a LONG time (which may include things like skinning down their brands AND reducing their dealerships number to be more in line with their competition). I wish them the best.

556063
07-15-2012, 08:24 PM
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/gm-boasts-strong-june-sales-but-is-that-the-whole-story/

Studebaker also went heavily after the fleet market when retail sales failed to produce sufficient volume.

Dick Steinkamp
07-15-2012, 08:47 PM
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/gm-boasts-strong-june-sales-but-is-that-the-whole-story/

A new topic for this thread, but hardly from a factual, unbiased source...

"TheBlaze is a conservative news and opinion website owned by American media personality and former Fox News host Glenn Beck's Mercury Radio Arts."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TheBlaze


At the bottom of the article...

"UPDATE –Modica writes that he was contacted by GM sales spokesman Jim Cain who disputes the National Legal and Policy Center’s article.

Cain argues that “total government sales for GM in June were still below 5% of total sales“ and that the majority of ”government sales increases were attributed to state and local governments” (as opposed to the federal government)."

(btw, the National Legal and Policy Center is "is a right-leaning 501(c)(3) non-profit group that monitors and reports on the ethics of public officials, supporters of liberal causes, and labor unions in the United States. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Legal_and_Policy_Center)

I don't have a dog in this hunt. I don't own any GM stock, I do own an 11 year old GMC pick up, however, (if that counts. ;).) I'd like to see US companies succeed, however. Facts are one thing...editorials with a political agenda are something else.

Bottom line for me on this thread...vintage Pontiacs (pre 70's) have been and probably always will always be collectible. MORE so than Studebakers (check current pricing). I don't think their orphan status will effect this in any way, however.

Studeous
07-15-2012, 08:50 PM
Count me in on the Unofficial Studebaker Ponton Orphan kinda guy site. The name Pontiac sounds nice in a song. Ceterus Parabus

Studeous
07-15-2012, 09:01 PM
Ceterus Parabus-All other things being equal.
If I want to change the frame to a Chevy, chances are its already there.

rockne10
07-15-2012, 09:13 PM
"Are Pontiacs the "Studebakers" of the future?"

I don't see a Detroit warehouse squirreling Pontiac parts the way Newman & Altman and Standard Surplus did Studebakers. There are no contemporary marques that will approach the legacy of Studebaker. We, as a club, are a unique moment in time. Embrace it.

556063
07-15-2012, 09:16 PM
I'd like to see US companies succeed, however.

Bottom line for me on this thread...vintage Pontiacs (pre 70's) have been and probably always will always be collectible. MORE so than Studebakers (check current pricing). I don't think their orphan status will effect this in any way, however.

Agreed on some things Dick. The NYSE and the price of GM Stock will sort the truth out on GM's situation eventually. I hope GM recovers from it's drop in stock price to the current less than $20 to more than the $35 IPO price. We could all use a shot in the arm right now.

I'd still rather have an Avanti or Hawk than a Trans-Am, but I'm in the minority. Pontiac, may it rest in peace, if that was indeed the best move. Like you say, the current production status has little to do with collectability of past models. I just don't think Pontiac will ever have the same mystique and exclusivity as Studebaker.

Milaca
07-15-2012, 10:05 PM
Seeing the many Grand Ams and Grand Prixs on the road every day makes it difficult to accept that Pontiac is no more. These two models had a sporty-looking image and were very popular with the under 40 crowd as they did not look bland or boring like the offerings from Chevrolet. I suppose the problem is that the replacements for the Grand Am and Grand Prix (the G6 and G8) either didnt have the styling buyers were looking for or, as I believe is the case for the G8 is that the prices were too high. It makes sense that GM had to charge more for the G8 being it was shipped all the way from Australia, but it doesnt make sense that GM would replace the Grand Prix with a car that cost much more.

1962larksedan
07-15-2012, 10:58 PM
Seeing the many Grand Ams and Grand Prixs on the road every day makes it difficult to accept that Pontiac is no more. These two models had a sporty-looking image and were very popular with the under 40 crowd as they did not look bland or boring like the offerings from Chevrolet. I suppose the problem is that the replacements for the Grand Am and Grand Prix (the G6 and G8) either didnt have the styling buyers were looking for or, as I believe is the case for the G8 is that the prices were too high. It makes sense that GM had to charge more for the G8 being it was shipped all the way from Australia, but it doesnt make sense that GM would replace the Grand Prix with a car that cost much more.

The irony was I never cared for the 1990's up Grand Am or Grand Prix because of their 'gingerbread' trim.

StudeMichael
07-15-2012, 11:02 PM
No way. Not even close. Pontiac was just a subsidiary of a monster company.

8E45E
07-16-2012, 03:00 AM
The market just wasn't buying badge engineering and something had to go...it wasn't going to be Chevrolet or Buick.

I'm also having a hard time with "market share" as the most important measure of a company's viability. Certainly the US automakers missed the boat when the market grew from essentially just North America and Europe to the WHOLE world, AND when they underestimated the quality and depth of offerings that Asian companies could bring, AND when they stopped listening to customers and built what THEY wanted to build, but GM isn't doing too badly. Certainly if GM had taken foreign competition seriously, realized it's a big world out there, and built what their customers were asking for, they would probably have an even bigger market share. But here's an analogy...

The real measure of a company's success is of course profits. GM is making money for the first time in a LONG time. They are doing something right for the first time in a LONG time (which may include things like skinning down their brands AND reducing their dealerships number to be more in line with their competition). I wish them the best.

I've stated before, badge-engineering does not work, and BMC was a classic case of it; marketing at least six different marques on one body shell at one point a good thirty years before, and GM could have learned from it.

Another factor, and a major reason of GM's declaring "bankrupcy" was its pension obligations to former and current workers.

Both GM and Ford were global companies long before the Asian car companies started to market their products around the world. At least Toyota did it with just two or three cars which had the same engines and interiors, etc., regardless where in the world they were sold, while GM and Ford had several different platforms in North America, England, and Germany. Ironically, GM was the first to have a 'world' platform with its T-body Chevette, and Ford followed suit with the Escort, but their engines and interiors were totally different for each market which almost negated the economies of scale for having a worldwide platform.
Craig

studegary
07-16-2012, 01:46 PM
IIRC, I have owned Pontiacs from 1966 models through 1980 models.

Isn't the Pontiac G8 the new Chevrolet PPV police car that is to become a retail customer item?

556063
07-16-2012, 08:30 PM
IIRC, I have owned Pontiacs from 1966 models through 1980 models.

Isn't the Pontiac G8 the new Chevrolet PPV police car that is to become a retail customer item?

Could the G8 be considered Pontiac's Avanti? Looks like what you say is true, Gary:

http://blog.caranddriver.com/tags/chevrolet-caprice-ppv/

Milaca
07-16-2012, 09:00 PM
Bring back a sporty two-door coupe, other than a Camaro. The 1997-2002 Grand Prix GT and GTP coupes were great looking and great performing cars. Bring them back!

1962larksedan
07-16-2012, 09:17 PM
IIRC, I have owned Pontiacs from 1966 models through 1980 models.

Isn't the Pontiac G8 the new Chevrolet PPV police car that is to become a retail customer item?

Close. The 2011+ Chevy Caprice is the 'Studebaker Y body' version of the G8 (longer wheelbase with more rear seat room). :)

1962larksedan
07-16-2012, 09:18 PM
Bring back a sporty two-door coupe, other than a Camaro. The 1997-2002 Grand Prix GT and GTP coupes were great looking and great performing cars. Bring them back!

Remember that the lack of demand killed off most 2 door anything in cars................I suspect the extended cab pickups replaced them, as it were.

Jeff_H
07-17-2012, 08:31 AM
Around these parts, pontiac grand pri's and grand am's were pretty popular with the folks in the their 20s and early 30s. More of them around I think that Buicks for sure, and maybe chevrolets as well. Still see quite a few but I am sure they are going to fade away quickly. Hardly see any of the later oldsmobiles any more except for alero's. Seems to me if they were looking to axe a brand from looking at poor sales only around here that Buick would be the one on the short list instead.

Most of the younger folks (men at least) prefer to drive 4dr crew cab 4x4 pickups. Even extended cab pickups are getting rare in the new lots. Regular cab probably would be special order! The few late cameros I see occasionally belong mostly to women. Minivans have been replaced mostly now by crossover SUV's that the wife drives while the husband has a 4dr 4x4 pickup.

The local dodge/chysler dealer recently got in about a dozen of those fiat 500s maybe 2 months ago. I have yet to see one driving around. Small cars don't sell well around here. Even small fords or other more common makes are rare.

jnormanh
07-17-2012, 09:03 AM
For the most part, Pontiacs were generic GM stuff, and many years only a nameplate or trim piece different from other GM cars.

Studebakers were made of Studebaker parts. A Studebaker is, well, a Studebaker.

Like DeSoto, Lasalle, and other generic makes, Pontiac will be missed by only a small hard-core group.

Dick Steinkamp
07-17-2012, 09:15 AM
Pontiac will be missed by only a small hard-core group.

I think you could replace "Pontiac" with "Studebaker" and describe the 13,000 member SDC ;)

Johnnywiffer
07-17-2012, 05:23 PM
It’s sad but true. GM is (in)famous for using its customers as the final testers of a product.

To name just 2, they did it with the EARLY Corvair and the EARLY Fiero. They fixed most of any problems with the 2nd generation of each, but by then, the problems with the 1st helped to kill the 2nd. And, in each case, it would have been sooo easy to get it right the 1st time.

Both were plagued by engine fires, the cause of which could have been handled BEFORE any got into customers’ hands. It wasn’t.

They both needed a better suspension. The 1st series Corvair was to be produced as cheaply as possible, so they used the rear swing axle. “If it’s good enough for the VW bug it’s good enough for GM” was the thinking. Major problem—VW drivers were NOT Corvair drivers. Corvair drivers wanted the maintenance-free side of front-engine rear-drive American cars. Sorry, Charlie—gotta use the right fan belt, change the oil AND keep the tire pressures correct. Then of course, there was Nader.

The early Fiero was really Chevy parts disquised with plastic panels. It had a Chevy II engine (But didn’t “Iron Duke” sound MORE POWERFUL?), Chevette front suspension and Celebrity front suspension in the rear. When the V-6 came along, it too was a Chevy. But with all those off-the-shelf parts, it was cheap to make and sure looked sporty! Only problem, it wasn’t a sports car—or even a sporty car until the ’88 came out with the new suspension. But by then, no matter how sports-car it was, the engine fires and insurance rates combined to kill it, too. And though it has been denied by Chevy, some powers that be felt one sports car was enough for GM—and the Corvette was it. After all, with a little help, the SBC could be wedged into the Fiero engine compartment and it WAS then a REAL mid-engine sports car. Wow—just like a Ferrari!

http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s311/johnnywiffer/fer.jpg

Oh, they had concept cars for the next generation. Such as:

http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s311/johnnywiffer/SaleenSilver2.jpg
http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s311/johnnywiffer/90_Proto_Small.jpg

That one even has a REAL trunk …
http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s311/johnnywiffer/DSCN0427.jpg

And a convertible---
http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s311/johnnywiffer/DSC_0241x.jpg

And this one has room for 4 (Munchkins!)
http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s311/johnnywiffer/4-passenger.jpg

And kinda like Studebaker, they coulda kept going—if they’d had the backing—at least with the Fiero. Maybe Pontiac IS SORTA the Studebaker of today. And as Dick said about SDC members, I can tell you that Fiero Owners are everywhere. There’s even one in MY house….

John