Pontiac is gone. The sinking ship of General Motors threw the old Indian overboard, just weeks after their own Captain Ahab sailed off the deck and disappeared into the briny deep.
The noble savage who represented a purity corrupted by the Puritans was once a proud hood ornament. He cut through wind on America’s back roads and all up and down Eisenhower’s Interstate. On the 1951 Pontiac Chieftan, he actually lit up.
But the Indian was already gone from the hood when Pontiac reached its glory days. DeLorean’s team squeezed an oversized V8 into an undersized car, stole a name from Ferrari and turned Gran Turismo Omologato into GTO, and a rocket for the nuclear family was born.
The muscle car was the last time an emanation from Detroit actually reached the imagination. Wide track, dual exhaust, triple carburetor, it drank gas stations under the table and spoke of a brawny, horse-powered America until a failure of vision and a succession of government mandates sent the muscle car into muscle memory.
Pontiac meant excitement after that. But it was a Pontiac kind of excitement, which meant driving a hundred miles an hour through the trailer park.
There was not much brand left to die, when it finally died.
A brand is a story. Sometimes the brand ends and the story is over, and sometimes the story ends and the brand is over.
As poet Muriel Rukeyser said: “The universe is composed of stories, not atoms.”
Or as Ronny and the Daytonas sang: “C’mon and turn it on, wind it up, blow it out, GTO.”