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Category: Pontiac

GM Design shows the Pontiac G8 that never was

We lost some pretty cool car models when GM closed Pontiac back in 2009. The Holden Commodore-based G8 sedan was possibly the coolest, what with its rear-drive platform and available V8 power. While we did get a follow-up with the Chevrolet SS, which continued with the Commodore base, at least until Holden was shut down, too, it seems Pontiac had bigger ideas for the big sedan. GM Design once again has shone a light on a never-before-seen concept car from the automaker’s archives. It’s a Pontiac G8 concept from nearly the final days of the brand.

The Instagram post notes that the show car was finished in 2008, the same year the production G8 launched. We only see it partially finished in the post, as well as some renderings, but it’s clear Pontiac had some big ideas for the car going forward. The concept has bold, vertical headlights and huge kidney grilles. The sides have a pronounced Coke bottle shape with the pinched section at the doors and the rising lines over the fenders. The fastback roofline hides a hatchback instead of a trunk, and the tail almost seems to take some inspiration from the Solstice and Saturn Sky models.

The interior reveals a dashboard that looks a surprising amount like that of the C8 Corvette. It has the same sort of driver-centric layout with a conspicuous barrier fencing off the main controls from the passenger. Only four seats appear, with a full-length center console dividing each side. It definitely suggests more of an upmarket grand tourer than a family sedan.

It’s interesting to see just how big a departure this concept was to the actual G8 and the SS, both of which were pretty much Holden Commodores with different badging. This show car looks like a more fully baked idea. It makes it seem like, in a world where the financial crisis didn’t hit so hard and GM didn’t go bankrupt, we might’ve seen the G8 develop into something all its own. Or at least, as much as a company dependent on shared architecture could allow it to be. Bob Lutz even suggested that the lowly front-drive G6 was considered to get a future generation on the ATS platform, so a more developed G8 would seem pretty reasonable.

While none of that happened, it certainly is interesting to see and wonder what could have been.

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Junkyard Gem: 1999 Pontiac Firebird Coupe

When Chevrolet introduced the Camaro for the 1967 model year, Pontiac got its own version at the same time (in contrast to Mercury, which had to wait a few years to start selling Mustang-sibling Cougars). This was the Firebird, which stayed in production until both it and the Camaro were discontinued after the 2002 model year. Today’s Junkyard Gem is a base Firebird coupe from the final fourth generation, found in a Colorado car graveyard recently.

These days, first- and second-generation (1967-1969 and 1970-1981) Firebirds are all but impossible to find in the big self-service wrecking yards, while the 1982-1992 third-generation cars still show up from time to time. Those looking for discarded 1994-2002 Firebirds have a somewhat easier time, though sales numbers were never great compared to those of the earlier cars.

The fourth-generation Camaros and Firebirds were very quick with V8 engines, but the base powerplants in the cheaper versions were always V6s. For 1996 through 2002, that engine was the good old 3.8-liter Buick pushrod V6, with ancestry extending all the way back to the 215-cubic-inch aluminum V8 that had its debut in 1961. That’s what’s in this car.

This one was rated at a pretty strong 200 horsepower and 225 pound-feet, which was more powerful than the beefiest optional V8s available in the 1982-1984 Firebirds. If you bought a 1999 Formula or Trans Am, you got a genuine 5.7-liter LS V8, rated at 305 (320 with Ram Air) horsepower and 335 pound-feet.

A five-speed manual was standard equipment in the 1999 Firebird with V6 (buyers of the V8-equipped cars could choose between a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic), and that’s what’s in this car.

This car has the optional T-top roof.

The MSRP for this car was $18,250, or about $34,828 in 2024 dollars.

The V6 version didn’t get much advertising time on TV.

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