February 23, 2009
Are Muscle Cars Too Strong To Be Killed By Pontiac Brand Naming Retirement?
The retiring of the Saturn, Hummer and Pontiac brand names has fired up a great deal of debate on the blogosphere.
I have long thought that the best thing for GM to do is to follow Toyota's lead and streamline its brand architecture, keeping Chevy, Buick, Cadillac and GMC. This move streamlines GM and gives its remaining brands ample room to grow.
Although one must admit that some of these popular brand names will not go quietly.
Jalopnik has followed the demise of Pontiac pretty closely and wishes it a cheerful adieu, but I feel like playing devil's advocate today.
Because CNN has all but declared the "muscle car" dead with the demise of Pontiac which really makes me wonder.
Pontiac really was all about muscle cars. At least a few decades ago. And Americans love their muscle cars. We still have them in our genes, like mullets, sleeveless t-shirts and heavy metal.
Europeans and Japanese automakers just do not get muscle cars. And for every person out there wanting to buy a Prius or a Fusion, there's ten guys who dream about owning a Trans-Am or a Corvette or a Gran Torino, which was just named "Hollywood's Coolest Car."
Remember when Kevin Spacey traded in his Toyota for a Firebird in American Beauty? He was speaking for legions of men who feel a little part of their souls die when they crawl into a Camry.
Love them or hate them, muscle cars are what Americans do best. Pontaic has been stuck with the Aztek, but deep down it's a rude, nasty nameplate for people like Burt Reynolds and Steve McQueen.
The New York Times went to a group of experts to gain some insight on this topic, and not surprisingly, many of them were not too thrilled with the departure of this well loved brand name.
Let Hummer go, Let Saab go, they say, but Pontiac has some real equity to leverage.
How about putting that Pontiac name on a few, select models? It may sound crazy, but Pontiac is to muscle cars as Harley Davidson is to hogs.
And I can vividly recall when Harley seemed doomed.
Some enterprising entrepreneur will buy the Pontiac business and find a way to make it work as a fuel efficient muscle car.
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