Demise of Pontiac saddens some car enthusiasts

For Sacramento-area Pontiac fans, the announced departure of General Motors' "excitement" brand is a bitter pill to swallow.

"Man, what a bummer. I can't believe it," said Sacramentan Terry Miller as he walked the Reliable Pontiac Cadillac Buick GMC lot at the Roseville Automall. "I actually had a (Pontiac) GTO when I was 22 years old. Drove it everywhere. Then I sold it. Man, I wish I hadn't done that. Car's a classic."

Nearby, car shopper and south Placer County resident Connie Hodge remembered that "a Pontiac was the date car of the 1960s. If you had a boyfriend with a hot Pontiac, that was something really, really special."

Bill Millard, who oversees the docent instruction program at the California Automobile Museum in Sacramento, said Pontiac's much-touted "excitement" label became entrenched in popular culture when GM started pumping rear-drive horsepower into its divisions in the mid-1950s.

"Pontiac," he said, "especially was marketed as the excitement leader, the one designed to pump the adrenaline of adolescents from 16 to 76, (with) Catalina, Bonneville, GTO, LeMans, Grand Prix, Firebird. Pump they did, and still do."

Millard noted, however, that some of Pontiac's excitement in recent years came from Australian automaker Holden, producer of a new-generation Pontiac GTO from 2004-06 and the current Pontiac G8 sports sedan.

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