Pontiac came into existence in the mid-1920s when the General Motors leadership wanted a new brand to fill the niche between the more popular Chevrolet and pricier Oakland.
Pontiac, named after a famous American-Indian chief, was designed to be a companion to Oakland, but soon overtook this brand in terms of sales so much that in 1931 the parent brand was discontinued and the existing models rebranded as Pontiac.
The very first automobile of the brand was the 6-27, also known as the Big Six. It used, as its name and nickname suggested, a 3.0-liter straight six engine with 40 horsepower. Its price was $745, well below the what was at the time Buick's cheapest car, Model 24, also powered by a six cylinder motor. This generous price difference between GM's two brands helped Pontiac establish a foothold in the market. Gradually, though, Pontiac became ever more conservative. This was all to change after the Second World War, when Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen, the company's new CEO, ordered the designers to make a break with the past.
In 1958, the spectacular Bonneville coupe and convertible were placed at the top of Pontiac's range. In March 1958 high-performance “PK” and “PM” versions of the 6.1-liter (370-cubic-inch) V-8 were added as options for discerning customers.
The 60s were a golden age for Pontiac, who became America's third best-selling brand in 1961. Gradually, GM's desire to reduce costs, especially after the Oil Crisis in 1973 ruined the brand's image as Pontiacs became nothing more than rebadged Chevrolet's with slightly more power. Some models were also plagued by poor reliability, a hallmark of GM's cheaper cars in the 80s and 90s.
It all culminated with one of the ugliest cars ever made, the Pontiac Aztek. From this moment on, we can consider the brand's fate almost sealed. The financial crisis in 2007-2008 gave it the final blow, and the very last Pontiac, a white G6 Sedan sold to a fleet was built on November 25, 2009. A very sad ending for a brand that was once one of the most loved in America.