Pontiac was born out of GM executive Alfred P. Sloan's reorganization of the company's product line in the early 1920s. The pragmatic Sloan determined GM needed a car line priced above Chevrolet but below Oldsmobile, and the result was the 1926 Pontiac. Those first models were essentially little more than a contemporary Chevy with a 6-cylinder engine instead of a 4-cylinder under the hood. The new car was sold by the struggling Oakland Division of GM. Pontiac quickly prospered in the market and overshadowed Oakland; the latter was history after 1931. But by the 1950s, Oldsmobile was outselling Pontiac by a substantial margin.
When Semon E. "Bunkie" Knudsen took over as the division's general manager in July 1956, Pontiac's dowdy image soon gave way to a confident swagger and seemingly ever-increasing sales. Performance and style became Pontiac hallmarks. With products like the Bonneville, Grand Prix, GTO, and Trans Am; beautiful advertising art; and memorable terms like "Wide Track" and "Ram Air," Pontiac owned a mystique that few other marques could hope to match. Over time, Pontiac had trouble adapting to the ever-changing automobile market and lost its edge, but flashes of greatness were visible right to the end.
Just after noon on November 25, 2009, the last Pontiacs destined for sale in the United States came off the line at GM's Orion assembly plant in Michigan. That day, 100 2010 Pontiac G6 sedans were assembled for a fleet order, and the 83-year-old brand began to recede into automotive history.
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