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.
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.
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 The very next year, Star Chief name was withdrawn completely, leaving Executive on its own.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.
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.