Driving Off Into The Sunset

Posted: Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Little GTO, you’re really lookin’ fine Three deuces and a four-speed and a 389 Listen to her tachin’ up now, listen to her why-ee-eye-ine C’mon and turn it on, wind it up, blow it out GTO.
I never owned a GTO like Ronnie and the Daytonas sang about in the their 1964 hit song..and now, even though they’ve made a come-back (the car not the band) I guess I never will.  After 83 years, General Motors has pulled the spark plugs on its Pontiac division in an effort to prove to the government that it is trying to stop the financial hemorrhaging that has brought the once proud and profitable auto maker to the brink of bankruptcy and surviving on federal bailout money.Iwas never too keen on those big ‘ol boats that Pontiac used to build. You know, the ones that proudly displayed the image of Ottawa Indian Chief, Pontiac on the hood, fenders and steering wheel. This 1955 Pontiac hood ornament actually lit up when the headlights were on.But in the early sixties, new young designers including John DeLorien were brought aboard to bring Pontiac out of granny’s garage and into the hands of a new generation  of motorists that wanted to go fast. I shudder to think about it now, but the fastest I’ve ever gone in a car was the 1963 Pontiac I bought while living in Pierre in 1968. It was pretty plain on the outside but had a great big engine. It looked just like this one.I foolishly decided one day to see what this “Pontiac Wide Excitement” thing they advertised was all about and headed toward the two lane highway west of town. I pushed the throttle to the floor and didn’t let up again until the speedometer reached 110.  It might have gone faster but I was shaking so much there was a good chance of losing control.
In the following years, Pontiac not only produced the popular GTO but later the Grand Prix, the sporty Firebird and the Trans Am of Smokey and the Bandit fame. That film turned out to be a big hit for Burt Reynolds at the box office and for Pontiac in the showrooms. Still enough power in this 1977 Trans Am to smoke the tires. 
After a lull in sales during the 90’s, Pontiac was going through another necessary attitude adjustment bringing back the GTO and introducing what I consider to be the best looking sports car in the world for the money; the Solstice. I’ve driven one just like this and it’s as fun as it looks.
I know, I know..rather than getting sentimental over the demise of an automobile brand, I should be mourning the loss of 21 thousand jobs at Pontiac and worried about my tax dollars being used to prop up a lost cause.  But, it’s hard for some of us to witness these bits of Americana forced into extinction.
Nobody’s going to write songs about their “little Nissan Altima really lookin’ fine..tachin’ up..listenin’ to her why-ee-eye-ine.”

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