Today’s news out of Michigan is deeply troubling: as 21,000 General Motors workers lose their jobs, GM has offered the U.S. Treasury a 50% stake in the company in exchange for the government forgiving $20 billion (!) in debt. As if that weren’t bad enough, GM has added insult to injury: yesterday, it announced that it would discontinue its Pontiac line, opting instead to protect the Buick.
Apparently, Buicks sell well in China and – insofar as China’s economy keeps growing annually at an impressive rate – that’s nothing to sneeze at. But let’s face it: Buicks are ugly, boat-like contraptions that typically come in decidedly unappealing colors. (Even its nicer models – such as Buick’s SUV-sedan “crossover” – can, at best, be called mundane.) Buicks also have pathetically non-distinctive model names, such as the LaCrosse, Lucerne, and Enclave. And they aren’t particularly cheap – apparently, there are people who shell out $26,000-$35,000 for these killjoys.
Compare this to the Pontiac. For starters, Pontiacs are iconic, instantly recognizable by their symmetrically bifurcated, diamond-patterned grilles – a feature that is standardized across virtually all models. Moreover, Pontiacs are, for the most part, very decent-looking cars: strong colors, interesting detailing, and a few truly stunning models in the mix. Finally, there’s the issue of branding: which sounds like it’s more fun to drive – the “Buick LaCrosse” or the “Pontiac G6″? And, considering that the latter has similar features but is $5,000 cheaper, which will be more fun to buy?
In short, so long as American tax dollars are going to be thrown at GM, can’t we at least ensure that GM saves a car that Americans can get excited about? Indeed, let the Buick join the Oldsmobile in car heaven – save the Pontiac!