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Auto blogTue, 29 Oct 2013 12:58:00 EST
How many people think Buick or GMC should have gotten the axe instead of Pontiac? You can't see it, but I'm raising my hand. Autoweek reports that former Vice Chairman of GM, Bob Lutz, has indicated that things didn't have to end up the way they did.
"The Feds said, 'Yeah, how much money have you made on Pontiac in the last 10 years?' and the answer was, 'Nothing.'"
In a talk given at the Petersen Automotive Museum for the Inside the MotoMan Studio series, Lutz says "The Feds said, 'Yeah, how much money have you made on Pontiac in the last 10 years?' and the answer was, 'Nothing.' So, it goes. And when the guy who is handing you the check for $53 billion says, 'I don't want Pontiac, drop Pontiac or you don't get the money,' it doesn't take you very long to make up your mind." Lutz even added that the next-generation Pontiac G6 would have benefitted from the rear-wheel-drive platform of the Cadillac ATS. How awesome would that have been?
Well, this is not good for General Motors. Following a report last week that GM was recalling 778,000 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 compacts over concerns that the ignition could switch out of the "run" position without warning, USA Today reports that the Detroit-based behemoth knew about the issue, which affected 2005 to 2007 Cobalts (the Cobalt shown above and in the gallery is from 2010) and 2007 Pontiac G5s, all the way back in 2004.
The information comes from a deposition in a civil lawsuit against GM, obtained by USA Today, which claims that a GM engineer experienced the issue while the then-new model was undergoing testing. The issue was "solved" when a technical service bulletin was issued in 2005, informing dealers to install a snap-on key cover on the cars of customers who complained about the issue. According to the Cobalt's program engineering manager, Gary Altman, the cover was an "improvement, it was not a fix to the issue."
The case where the depositions were made was from 2010, and involved Brooke Melton, a 29-year-old pediatric nurse in Georgia who was killed on her birthday. At the time, police claimed she was going too fast on a wet, rural road, although it later came out through the black box that her car's ignition had come out of the "run" position at least three seconds before the accident (the max amount of time a black box records before a wreck), disabling her airbags, power steering and anti-lock brakes. According to USA Today, police said Melton was "traveling too fast for the roadway conditions," although it's impossible to know if she'd have been in the wreck, which injured the occupants of another vehicle, had her 2005 Chevy not shut off. GM settled the Melton family's case, although the details remain confidential.
Every few a decades, the folks running General Motors lose their minds briefly try to market a car that public doesn't see coming and often aren't ready for. In the '60s there was the rear-engine, air-cooled Chevrolet Corvair, then the mid-engine Pontiac Fiero in the '80s and the completely bizarre Chevy SSR in the 2000s. What all of these had in common was that they bucked the trend for American models of their era, for better or worse. The latest episode of Generation Gap tasked the hosts with finding two cult classic vehicles to choose between; they came come up with two of these quirky products from The General.
On the classic side, there's a 1967 Chevy Corvair Monza convertible. Being from later in the production run, it wears slightly more aerodynamic styling than the earlier, boxier examples. Hanging out back is an air-cooled, 2.7-liter flat-six pumping out a robust 95 horsepower. In the other corner is the somewhat more modern 1986 Pontiac Fiero SE with a mid-mounted, 2.5-liter "Iron Duke" four-cylinder, an engine nearly ubiquitous in GM cars of the '80s.
Judging by when they were new, the Corvair was far more successful than the Fiero with over 1.8 million sold. Of course, Ralph Nader's book Unsafe at Any Speed kind of poisoned the well, even if the poor safety reputation wasn't entirely deserved. The Fiero on the other hand only lasted for a few model years before shuffling off, but it eventually got its own performance boost with the V6 version and rather attractive GT models. Check them both out in the video and tell us in Comments which you want in your garage.