Wednesday, April 29, 2009


At the beginning of this week, what was formerly denied, was announced, that, General Motors would dispatch Pontiac to oblivion. From the 1920s through the '50s, the Pontiac emblem, logo and hood ornament featured an handsome indian. Only a fool or liar would propose that the indian was treated well within or by the United States, but occasionally he has been recognised, if only to make a dollar.

Now, Pontiac (*c.1720, †1769) was a real indian, a war chief of a confederacy, before the birth of the United States, in what was the old northwest, or french territory. He defeated the british, almost took Detroit, but it was an international war and Pontiac's line was dispatchable and not central. Pontiac was impressive. Francis Parkman the yankee historian wrote about him in his volumes on the french and the english in north america.

Alfred Sloan was chief (president 1923-37, ceo '23-'46, chairman '37-'56) at GM and founded a business school at MIT. His thoughts dictated business. Planned obsolescence, market segmentation for price niche marketing were among his contributions. He also thought, in 1940, that, the fascist countries were more advanced than the democracies.

In the middle '20s General Motors had five car makes, in ascending order: Chevrolet, Oakland, Oldsmobile, Buick, and Cadillac. Sloan saw gaps and added 'companion makes'. The line became: Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oakland, Oldsmobile, Viking, Marquette, Buick, LaSalle and Cadillac.

General Motors, in 1909, bought the Cartercar, which was manufactured in the city of Pontiac, in Oakland county, Michigan. General Motors, in 1909, bought the Oakland Car Company as well. An earlier Pontiac was manufactured in 1907-08 by another Pontiac buggy company. In 1915 GM builds Oaklands, in the Cartercar plant, in Pontiac.

The new companion Pontiac is introduced in 1926. In 1932, the Oakland division becomes the Pontiac division. Pontiac survived the first Depression, when many lines failed. Pontiac often had some sporty models. It was the 'muscle car' GTO. Pontiac had a certain panache that sounded well by the ear. Ricky and Lucy Ricardo drove a Sky Chief convertible on television. Working class america had liked Pontiac, but working class america has been under a great assault for over a generation. An icon of a certain glory is going to the attic of memory.

No comments: