5 Pontiacs that were never sold in America

Pontiac fans may think they know their cars but there is a whole mirror universe of Pontiacs out there, like in that original “Star Trek” episode with a slightly different Mr. Spock wearing a Trotsky goatee. That mirror universe is called Canada, and over the years GM engaged in some breathtaking branding exercises that saw Chevy and Pontiac parts mixed and matched to produce cars that were never sold anywhere else.

1. Pontiac Firefly

What started out as the Suzuki Cultus in 1983 grew into a bewildering array of cars for dozens of different markets, as GM desperately tried to plug this small hatch into empty spots in its lineups. The U.S. received the Cultus as the Chevrolet Metro and later the Geo Metro; Canada got it as the Pontiac Firefly, a nameplate that lived well into the 1990s.

2. Pontiac Laurentian

GM of Canada sought to differentiate its Pontiac lineup starting in the 1950s, perhaps in response to a similar effort from Ford. But it didn’t create a standalone brand. Instead, Pontiac offered what can best be described as a remix of Chevrolet and Pontiac parts, with models like the Strato Chief, Parisienne, Laurentian and even Grande Parisienne.

3. Pontiac G2

The Pontiac brand was stretched downmarket in Mexico, too, when the Daewoo Matiz was lightly reworked into the Pontiac G2. Small details were all that differentiated it from other versions of the second-generation Matiz, which was also sold as a Chevy. The resulting Pontiac G2 was sold in Mexico starting in 2003 under the Matiz G2 and G2 nameplates, while in other markets it was sold as the Chevy Spark.

4. Pontiac Sunburst

The second-generation Isuzu I-Mark was one of GM’s biggest world-car efforts in the 1980s. The U.S. received it as the Chevrolet Spectrum and the Geo Spectrum, in addition to the Isuzu I-Mark nameplate (that previewed Apple naming conventions), Canada also received this fine vehicle as the Pontiac Sunburst starting in the 1985 model year. Four years later, GM evidently decided that there was nothing Pontiac about it, replacing it with the Isuzu Stylus.

5. Pontiac Sunrunner

The pocket-SUV market exploded in the late 1980s, and GM was quick to pollinate the lineup of its myriad brands with slightly different versions of the same thing. While the U.S. received this vehicle as the Geo Tracker and the Suzuki Sidekick, Canada got it as the Chevrolet Tracker and the GMC Tracker. GM Canada then took a slight detour, offering it for about a year as the Asuna Sunrunner before that brand was dumped and the car became the Pontiac Sunrunner. The Pontiac version was sold in Canada starting in 1994 and continued all the way through 1998, managing to outlive the Geo brand itself. What a trooper.

5 Forgotten Classic Pontiac Models You Probably Never Knew Existed

Simple mention of the Pontiac brand forces tears into the eyes of many American car aficionados. One of the most beloved GM divisions served Americans for almost 85 years before becoming collateral in company’s bailout a few years ago. Although Pontiac disappeared abruptly, its arrival in 1926 was much more gradual. It was introduced as Oakland division’s companion marque. The same way LaSalle was Cadillac’s companion marque, Marquette was Buick’s or Viking used to be Oldsmobile’s. In peculiar turn of events, Oakland was actually survived by Pontiac who absorbed Oakland’s models into its own lineup coming 1931 and onset of the great depression. Pontiac was the only companion marque to survive its parent division. As such, classic Pontiac cars got a chance that many discontinued brand’s models didn’t.

1970-1971 GT-37

You might have forgotten that GT-37 ever existed because it wasn’t exactly a model on its own. GT-37 was actually an affordable appearance and handling package available for a short time on two different intermediate A-body Pontiacs. It was introduced in 1970, and all Pontiac Tempest owners could have ordered it for $198. All who bought the entry-level T-37 hardtop coupe introduced mid year, that is. For just shy of $200, Pontiac offered Rally II wheels, white letter tires and striping from ’69 GTO The Judge. Handling bit of the package included heavy-duty suspension, dual exhausts, and a floor-mounted 3-speed manual with a Hurst shifter. Hood-locking pins completed the package.

1967-1970 Executive

Sure, every Pontiac fan remembers Catalina and Bonneville full-size B-body models of the late sixties and beyond. But for a brief period between 1967 and 1970, they were joined by the Pontiac Executive. Executive itself was derived from long-serving Pontiac Star Chief which was renamed Star Chief Executive in 1966. The very next year, Star Chief name was withdrawn completely, leaving Executive on its own.

1976 Astre Lil’ Wide Track

Few people today will remember the Pontiac Astre, let alone one year only Lil’ Wide Track special offering. Subcompact was a rebadged Chevrolet Vega which doesn’t really speak in Astre’s favor. Still, Pontiac was probably glad they had something small and fuel-efficient to sell between 1975 and 1977 when oil embargo and new emissions regulations shook the very foundations of the U.S. car market. Lil’ Wide Track was offered during 1976 model year with aim to boost Astre’s low volume sales.

1957 Star Chief Custom Safari Transcontinental

Star Chief used to be Pontiac Chieftain’s top trim package back in the day. Easily recognized by their rear side chromed stars, Star Chiefs sported extended A-body platform and somewhat larger powertrains then their Chevy counterparts. Star Chief Custom Safari Transcontinental was a special edition station wagon which debuted alongside Star Chief Custom Bonneville in 1957.

1985-1989 Sunburst

You’ll likely have to dig deep in order to remember the Pontiac Sunburst. How Does the Isuzu Gemini sound? Or the Chevrolet Spectrum, for that matter? As you now likely remember, Sunburst was just a rebadged version of the aforementioned Japanese subcompact limited to Canadian market. That probably makes it one of the least collectible and most forgotten Pontiacs ever made.