The Let's Play Archive

Need for Speed: Most Wanted

by Olive Branch

Part 20: The History of General Motors; About the Pontiac GTO

The History of General Motors

General Motors Company, also known as GM and as General Motors Corporation (before 2009) is a multinational American automotive corporation, and one of the world's largest automakers by vehicle unit sales. Founded in 1908 as a holding company for Buick, GM expanded after the first World War and grew until the early 1980s. Brands from GM include Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Opel, and others.

After 2009 the company dropped several brands, including Pontiac, and during the 2000s, a failure to obtain government loans and poor fiscal showings forced the giant to declare bankruptcy. In order to rescue the company and avoid economic pitfalls, they were bailed out by the American government in 2009 and returned to profitability in 2010.

About the Pontiac GTO

Pontiac, a now-defunct brand and division of GM, was marketed as the performance division of the automotive corporation. The Pontiac GTO was a muscle car classic of the 1960s and 1970s, and the fourth generation of the GTO was sold between 2004 and 2006. However, the PTO that launched in the United States was in fact a rebadgered third-gereration Holden Monaro, making the GTO Pontiac's first captive import (a marketing ploy of selling a foreign-built part or vehicle under the name of an importer or by a domestic automaker through its own dealer distribution system).

The Pontiac GTO's origins came from a Bob Lutz, a GM chairman who read a review of the Holden Commodore SS in Car and Driver published in 2000. Lutz promoted his idea and spent a lot of time trying to convince the executives to import the car, to overcome the culture of regional autonomy. The car was ready to go in 2001, but it took three years until GM agreed, and by that time the design was dated and the Australian dollar inflated the price of the car from $25,000 to $34,000, causing lukewarm public acceptance.

Sporting a solid 350 hp V8 engine, the GTO was nevertheless considered too "conservative and anonymous" to befit the original GTO's heritage and performance, and sales suffered as other "new age muscle aesthetics" cars such as the Ford Mustang and Dodge Charger stole its thunder. For this very reason, though, the new GTO became a sought after cult-car; for GM, a lesson was learned regarding overseas divisions and regional divisions working together to produce good cars.

Triple A Says...

A remarkably Australian car, in the sense of having an actually good chassis with a big pushrod V8.