It has been eight years since the Pontiac brand was disbanded by the General Motors Corporation, and in those eight years, the automotive industry has been left with a real void. The Pontiac division of General Motors was known as the excitement division, and with that brought a number of historic models to the company. The brand was known for the legendary Smokey And The Bandit Firebird, as well as the GTO which is one of the most legendary muscle cars to ever grace the roads. The brand was always known as the cutting edge brand, introducing new and innovative designs and sportiness to an otherwise bland brand lineup offered by General Motors.
Pontiac was also one of the first car brands to exclusively use the reg gauges, which are commonplace in vehicles like the BMW. Unfortunately, toward the brand's end of its life cycle, many of the cars were rehashed General Motors offerings that simply got nothing more than a grill treatment and some sporty wheels.
The final Pontiac vehicle which was the G8 sports sedan, was one of the last vehicles to truly bring excitement to the brand. Nevertheless, there was a time when Pontiac was one of the most exciting places to get a car, and their market reach was quite large. We are going to take a look at some of the most memorable Pontiac models, cars that changed the way that we think about your average automobile.
25 Pontiac GTO Concept (1999)
Think you are seeing a current generation Camaro? Well, that's because the Pontiac GTO Concept was the basis for the current Chevrolet Camaro model that you see today. Would a retro-inspired Pontiac Firebird have saved the brand? Possibly, but the company didn’t really invest in the Pontiac Firebird as it should have.
The Pontiac GTO Concept would have ignited the retro-themed revolution early on, instead of the 2005 Ford Mustang which ignited the current generation of retro-themed muscle cars.
24 Pontiac Sunfire HO 2.4 SEMA Car (2001)
The Pontiac Sunfire which began life as the Pontiac Sunbird was not a high-performance car by any stretch of the word, in fact, it was a Cavalier with a good amount of body cladding on it to make it look cool.
The Pontiac Sunfire HO 2.4 SEMA Car was a change from the average Sunfire that was being sold on dealer lots and with a high output engine the performance above satisfactory to say the least. The Pontiac Sunfire HO 2.4 SEMA Car never made it into production, and we think this car would have ignited some interest in Pontiac's small cars.
23 Pontiac Firebird Raptor Concept (2001)
When it came to introducing new and interesting packages to their F-Body cars, GM never really invested the time or effort during the 90s, and thus the Camaro and Firebird ceased production in 2002 due to falling sales.
The Pontiac Firebird Raptor Concept was an interesting design and a valiant attempt to infuse some life back into the brand. Unfortunately, like many great GM concept cars of the day that never saw fruition, the Pontiac Firebird Raptor Concept was an awesome attempt to revitalize the brand.
22 Hurst Pontiac Firebird Hauler Concept (2000)
Probably one of the most interesting incarnations of the Pontiac Firebird came in 2000 with the introduction of the Hurst Pontiac Firebird Hauler Concept. Similar to the Chevrolet El Camino of yesteryear, the Hurst Pontiac Firebird Hauler Concept took a basic Pontiac Firebird and added a functional bed and camper style to the car.
While this car might not have been a sales success, it would have been worth it for Pontiac to explore some different packages with the Firebird, which never really got to experience an increase in sales.
21 Pontiac Grand Am SC/T Concept (1999)
The final model of the Pontiac Grand Am was a boring but affordable family sedan and two-door coupe that offered a semi-sporty design, while also offering an optional Ram Air supercharged edition.
Unfortunately, the Grand-Am suffered from lackluster sales later on in life as well as the plastic build quality that plagued the GM brands during the 90s. The Pontiac Grand Am SC/T Concept was something quite unique, in addition to the new exterior styling that made the concept quite unique.
20 Pontiac Rageous Concept (1997)
GM was not never big on introducing performance sedans during the 90s, and the Pontiac Rageous Concept was a one of a kind concept that introduced the world to the one of a kind sedan.
The Pontiac Rageous Concept is not like anything that was on a GM production line during the 90s, down from the beautiful paint to the sharp curves. It is interesting to note that the Pontiac Rageous Concept was quite a popular concept car, but it never resembled anything that made it to the actual production line.
19 Pontiac G6 Concept (2003)
The Pontiac G6 is notable for being one of the best selling sedans in GM history, and with good reason as the car was and still is to this day a stellar value. What made the G6 cool was a sporty interior and a beautiful exterior that made the car look at the lot more desirable than the boring Pontiac models at the time.
The 2003 Pontiac G6 concept car was the basis for most of the production vehicle. Just looking at the concept, we can see how if the car had been released earlier on, it could have saved the brand.
18 Pontiac Pursuit Concept (1987)
There is no denying that GM was on a future inspired design theme during the 80s, even offering digital dashboards in many of their vehicles that were far ahead of their time. The Pontiac Pursuit Concept was an interesting concept car that looked like nothing that was coming out of Pontiac at the time.
Combining a spaceship theme with the usual Pontiac features made the Pursuit Concept something both unique and beautiful. The Pontiac Pursuit Concept stands on its own in terms of design, although the car seems to have inspired the production GM EV1 concept car.
17 Pontiac Bonneville GXP Concept (2002)
Sadly, the Pontiac of yesteryear was a lot more exciting than the final brand that we had been gifted with, and for the most part, the other Pontiac models just rehashed GM vehicles that were already in production or sold on Chevrolet lots.
The Pontiac Bonneville GXP Concept added a little pep to the big family sedan that Pontiac sold. Unfortunately, making the car cool was a little late in the life cycle and the buying public was not very happy with the car due to its heavy weight and boring design.
16 Pontiac Grand Prix G-Force Concept (2002)
There is no doubt that the execs at Pontiac were regretting not selling a rear wheel drive V8 powered sedan after the Dodge Charger hit showrooms in 2006. The car became insanely popular and all Pontiac was left with were underpowered V6 cars, which were nothing close to the wonderful selection of muscle cars that graced Pontiac lots decades ago.
The Pontiac Grand Prix G-Force Concept showed that the aging Pontiac Grand Prix could be cool, but it was a little too late in the game for Pontiac to make up for lost ground.
15 Pontiac Solstice Coupe Concept (2002)
Another car that was never released in time was the Solstice Coupe, which appeared as a concept back in 2002. The actual Solstice coupe was released in 2009 and according to Edmunds, there were only 1,266 of them produced until the assembly line was shuttered by GM.
Why this wonderful performance car was halted for so long is beyond us, and it just goes to show some of the errors that made the Pontiac brand fade into a memory. The Pontiac Solstice Coupe Concept was a very exciting look car, to say the least, and who can forget the Targa top!
14 Pontiac Firebird 455 Ram Air WS6 GMMG Formula Edition Coupe (1998)
One of the problems with the Pontiac Firebird toward the end of its life cycle was the fact that Pontiac never really invested into some special edition trim packages. The Pontiac Firebird 455 Ram Air WS6 GMMG Formula Edition Coupe tried to alleviate that problem with a one of a kind package that would have rivaled any Ford Saleen package.
You’ll also notice that the Pontiac Firebird 455 Ram Air WS6 GMMG Formula Edition Coupe was much more stylish than the production model at the time, incorporating a special edition paint job too.
13 Pontiac Solstice Concept (2002)
Along with the coupe was the Pontiac Solstice Concept, which ended up being a pretty cool production convertible. It was designed to compete with the likes of the Mazda Miata which had been a hot seller for decades.
Unfortunately, ten years is a little too late to try and compete with a car that had already captured the hearts of drivers. Thus, the Pontiac Solstice never really got the love that it deserved. The car was actually a fine driving roadster that incorporated one of the most stylish designs on a Pontiac to date.
12 Pontiac Vibe Concept (2001)
There is no doubt that Pontiac really tried to drive sales during the last decade, but most of their attempts to capture the market had not panned out. So much so that the brand relied on Toyota to deliver the brand a clone of the Matrix which was called the Vibe.
Although the car was based on the Toyota Corolla, the overall design and driving functionality was boring and did not really fit in line with Pontiac's general design aesthetic. The car did manage to sell well for the brand and remained in production until the brand's demise in 2010.
11 Pontiac Pronto Sport 4 Concept (1991)
Sharing the same name as the Plymouth Pronto concept at the time, the Pontiac Pronto Sport 4 Concept is an interesting combination of design style and a concept that was ahead of its time.
The Pontiac Pronto Sport 4 Concept was going to be a four-door version of the Pontiac Firebird similar to the current day Dodge Charger sedan. The Pontiac Pronto Sport 4 Concept was also one of the most cutting-edge designs to come out of the early 90s GM design studios - it was really a new direction for Pontiac.
10 Pontiac Piranha Concept (2000)
When it came to the dawn of the new millennium the Pontiac brand was on its way out, and the cars that were on dealer lots were boring and unexciting for consumers who were used to the Pontiac brand being exciting.
The Pontiac Piranha Concept was a new design direction for Pontiac, which really showed that the brand was trying to innovate and repair a damaged brand image that had been tarnished with bland products for a long time. The Pontiac Piranha Concept was also one of the more creative designs to come out of GM in a long time.
9 Pontiac Aztek Concept (1999)
Perhaps one of the most notorious failures in the history of Pontiac, the production model Aztek was a wonderful concept that was plagued by a plastic body cladding design and an underpowered engine.
The Pontiac Aztek Concept actually dated back to 1999, and the concept introduced a lot of features that made it into the production model. The Pontiac Aztek Concept also incorporated many of the unique features that the production model had, such as the built-in cooler which sat in the center of the vehicle.
8 Pontiac Montana Thunder Concept (1998)
The Pontiac brand toward the latter part of the 80s and the 90s was plagued with many odd and poorly designed cars such as the LeMans and the Dustbuster style minivans that were prominent.
The Pontiac Montana Thunder Concept was a new design that tried to take the Montana van to a new level, laying the groundwork for what could have become the Montana SV6. Many of the features on the Pontiac Montana Thunder Concept were new to the minivan market, but unfortunately, GM never put the van into production.
7 Pontiac Sunfire Speedster Concept (1994)
Pontiac has always been the exciting brand of the GM divisions, and some of the interesting concepts that hit the road during the 90s were an example of this. The Pontiac Sunfire Speedster Concept offers a great blend of style and design that really took the Sunfire to the next level.
You’ll notice that the Pontiac Sunfire Speedster Concept was similar to the production car in many aspects, which was pretty cool but the production car was still bland and lacked a lot of the excitement that made it in the concept version.
6 Pontiac Salsa Concept (1992)
Interesting concepts during the 90s were a staple of the Pontiac brand, and the Pontiac Salsa Concept was another interesting car. The Pontiac Salsa Concept was a sporty looking concept, with one of a kind style that hasn't really been seen on a Pontiac concept car as of yet.
The Pontiac Salsa Concept was something new and creative that the brand had not seen before, and if more of this innovation had been done earlier in the lifespan of the Pontiac product line, then the brand might have been spared an early demise.
5 Pontiac Protosport 4 Concept (1991)
No this is not the Plymouth Pronto that you are reading about, which was another popular concept during the nineties that birthed the PT Cruiser. The Pontiac Protosport 4 Concept was another concept car using this name and creating a one of a kind sedan that looked the break the mold of bland design during the 90s.
The Pontiac Protosport 4 Concept was notable for featuring the signature red paint job that Pontiac has become famous for, as well as an innovative interior that featured a lot of new components. The Pontiac Protosport 4 Concept is perhaps one of the most innovative concepts of its time.
4 Pontiac Sunfire Concept (1990)
Long before the actual production Sunfire hit the streets, the compact car during the 90s was known as the Sunbird. Well, Pontiac released the Pontiac Sunfire Concept which was a glimpse of what the production car would look like.
Now, the actual production car was little more than a Chevrolet Cavalier with some fancier head and tail lights but the car did manage to introduce some unique features such as functional dual exhausts, which was a first for a compact economy car.
3 Pontiac Stinger Concept (1989)
Perhaps the precursor of interesting cars to come, the Pontiac Stinger Concept was a go anywhere and do anything type of two-door that was more than unique for its time. Introduced in 1989 the Pontiac Stinger Concept was ahead of its time, taking the interesting design concepts of the Geo Tracker and adding it to a two-door concept car.
There are very few concept cars that came out during the 90s that were as unique as the Pontiac Stinger Concept, and to this day the Stinger remains one of the coolest concepts of the 90s.
2 Pontiac Banshee Concept (1988)
The F-Body cars were some of the most legendary muscle cars to roll out of a production line, both from Chevrolet and Pontiac. The next generation F-Body cars were still in production when the Pontiac Banshee Concept hit the scene, and the concept car was beyond unique.
Giving the world of the idea of what the next generation Firebird would look like, the Pontiac Banshee Concept is sleek and very fast. The Pontiac Banshee Concept stands as one of the most beautiful concept cars to ever come out of Pontiac.
1 Pontiac Trans Sports Concept (1986)
There is no doubt that the minivan changed the automotive industry forever, and GM was rushing to get some type of minivan into production. For Pontiac, this came with the one of a kind Pontiac Trans Sports Concept, which was far ahead of its time in terms of design and functionality.
The Pontiac Trans Sports Concept did resemble the actual Pontiac minivan of the 90s to some degree. Although GM did not follow through with the beautiful design curves of this concept. The Pontiac Trans Sports Concept was definitely one of the more notable minivan concepts of the 80s or 90s.
Sources: Motor Trend & Edmund