Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pontiac - Once Upon a Time a Maker of Cool Cars Dies @ 84

"when i visited a us car show back in the 90s and saw that they were green lighting the Aztec concept (instead of a really cool concept that never sees the light of day), i knew that was a sure sign of the end and the execs in charge had their heads so far up their asses that they thought s**t was they way things were supposed to smell."

DETROIT (AP) -- Pontiac, whose muscle cars drag-raced down boulevards, parked at drive-ins and roared across movie screens, is going out of business on Sunday.

The 84-year-old brand, moribund since General Motors decided to kill it last year as it collapsed into bankruptcy, had been in decline for years. It was undone by a combination of poor corporate strategy and changing driver tastes. On Oct. 31, GM's agreements with Pontiac dealers expire.

Even before GM's bankruptcy, Pontiac's sales had fallen from their peak of nearly one million in 1968, when the brand's speedier models were prized for their powerful engines and scowling grills.

At Pontiac's pinnacle, models like the GTO, Trans Am and Catalina 2+2 were packed with horsepower and sported colors like "Tiger Gold." Burt Reynolds and Sally Field fled the law in a Firebird Trans Am which raced through the 1970s hit movie "Smokey and the Bandit."

By the late 1980s, though, Pontiacs were taking off their muscle shirts, putting on suits and trying to act like other cars. The brand had lost its edge.

Bill Hoglund, a retired GM executive who led Pontiac during its "We Build Excitement" ad campaigns in the 1980s, blames the brand's demise on a reorganization under CEO Roger Smith in 1984. That overhaul cut costs by combining Pontiac's manufacturing, engineering and design operations with those of other GM brands.

"There was no passion for the product," says Hoglund. "The product had to fit what was going on in the corporate system."

Although the moves were necessary to fend off competition from Japanese automakers with lower costs, they yielded Pontiacs that looked and drove like other GM cars.

By 2008, the last full year before GM announced Pontiac's shutdown, sales were 267,000, less than a third of those sold in 1968.

Formed in 1926, Pontiac made cars for the working class until a sales slump in the 1950s nearly killed it. GM revived the brand by connecting it to auto racing. From then on, each Pontiac sales boom was driven by speed; each bust generally featured outdated or boring rides.

The brand's most storied muscle car, the GTO, came about when some GM engineers took a small car called the Tempest and put a powerful V8 engine under the hood. The letters stood for "Gran Turismo Omologato," Italian for "ready to race."

Sparked by the GTO, the Pontiac brand thrived, making up 17 percent of the 5.4 million cars and trucks GM sold in the U.S. in 1968. The GTO even spawned its own 1960s hit song.

"C'mon and turn it on, wind it up, blow it out GTO," was the chorus of the tune by Ronny and the Daytonas.

Pontiac's decline stemmed from a lack of a consistent strategy or leadership. Executives rotated through every few years on their way up the corporate ladder, each with a different vision. Some even tried to make Pontiac a luxury brand.

One strategy that eventually hurt the brand was rebadging: putting the guts of less powerful GM cars inside the skins of Pontiacs.

Big economic shifts also damaged the brand. Two gas spikes in the 1970s steered Americans toward smaller cars with more fuel-efficient engines, areas dominated by Japanese automakers in the U.S.

About two dozen unsold Pontiacs now linger at dealerships around the country, including a maroon G5 coupe that sits awkwardly in a no-man's land between used cars and new models next to the showroom at Orr GM Superstore near Little Rock, Ark. The car, which is really just a poky Chevrolet Cobalt gussied up with a spoiler, fancy wheels and the red arrowhead Pontiac logo, has been on the lot for more than 700 days. Sales Manager Alex Valencia has knocked almost $7,000 off the sticker price, down to $16,585.

Despite spells of success during the last 30 years, Pontiac never returned to its supercharged sales of the 1960s.

A low point was the late 1990s, when Pontiac came up with Aztek, an attempt to merge campers with SUVs and win over young, outdoorsy Americans. The vehicle, which seemed more like a cross between a minivan and armored car, flopped.

In the mid-2000s, GM tried to rekindle the brand with powerful sedans, such as the G8, which harkened back to the GTO. But dealers wanted a full model lineup, and GM gave them renamed Chevrolets, diluting Pontiac's performance image, says Bob Lutz, GM's former product guru who headed up the effort to reinvigorate Pontiac.

This year, Pontiac's sales are less than 1 percent of the 2.2 million cars and trucks GM is expected to sell. GM built the last Pontiac in May.

Even after their Pontiac agreements expire, GM dealers will continue to service the cars and honor their warranties. But after this weekend, any new Pontiacs that remain on dealer lots will be considered used cars by GM.

Anthony "Tony" Augelli, owner of a Pontiac-GMC-Buick dealer in Gurnee, Ill., near Chicago, still has a gleaming orange 2009 Solstice roadster that's the first car to greet customers in his showroom. Despite its prime perch, the $32,000 car hasn't sold.

Augelli gets emotional when speaking of Pontiac's end.

"I miss it already," he says.

AP Business Writer Chuck Bartels in Little Rock, Ark., and Associated Press writer Sophia Tareen in Gurnee, Ill., contributed to this report.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

SAAB saved by the Dutch - Spyker Automotive is Buying the Former Swedish Car Maker

Instead of going back to Swedish Ownership, another European based company is going to rescue Saab.

Want a REALLY exclusive super car? Buy a Spyker - they only sold 23 cars in 2009 compared to hundreds of Ferraris, Lambos, Bentleys, Astons, etc... Unless of course you have the BIG bucks for a Veyron (Bugatti).
Hmm. . . make that 22 on the road now... (moron)

So, Spyker saves the day for Saab. Sweden should be happy...

Saab got a new life Tuesday as General Motors Co. agreed to sell the Swedish car brand to the small Dutch luxury carmaker Spyker Cars NV.

The Swedish government has agreed to guarantee up to 4 billion kronor ($550 million) in loans through the European Investment bank to make the deal happen, Industry Minister Maud Olofsson said.

The deal would be a coup for Spyker and a lifeline for Saab, which has lost money for years under GM's ownership and was slated for liquidation. Saab has around 3,500 employees in Sweden.

But it's also a huge challenge for Spyker, which sold only 23 cars in the first half of 2009, its most recent reporting period, and posted a net loss of 8.7 million euros. The 6-year-old company has yet to make a profit, but it says funding for its operations have been guaranteed through 2010.

The sale of Saab is "great news for Saab employees, dealers and suppliers, great news for millions of Saab customers and fans worldwide, and great news for GM," said John Smith, a vice president at GM who was in charge of the negotiations.

Is this serious? Looks like the whole family is inside based on the struts being maxxd out.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Dutch automaker Spyker Offers To Buy Saab

I've test driven SAAB 9.3 and 9.5 a few years ago and found them to be fairly competent cars.

I actually kinda liked the convertible 9.3 Aero - the salesman educated the build quality to me and my friend and that probably had something to do with it.

It's a shame nowadays with cars no longer knowing who their real father and mother is what with every make and model being built and assembled in bits all around the world.

Saab started as a Swedish company - building jets and the like. Then GM bought them and imo, tarnished their reputation a bit as they didn't know what to do with SAAB - like an ugly step sister or something.

here's the one my friend almost bought - she ended up buying a Honda Accord instead... Definitely not as much fun as the Saab 9.3 Aero would've been

love it or hate it lime green color.... i kinda like it

Case in point, troubled, bloated GM has been wanting to dump SAAB and even to the point of killing the brand entirely if no suitor is found.

Now, Spyker is vying for the SAAB brand... a Dutch company... I would think the SWEDISH car company Koenigsegg would be a better fit - for the sole reason SAAB would be returning to its home once again.

Silly, and irrationally romantic notion, I know.... so here's some latest news scoop on the future of SAAB. . .

Dutch automaker Spyker submits bid to buy Saab from GM; Detroit automaker skeptical

, On Thursday January 7, 2010, 7:50 pm EST
DETROIT (AP) -- Hopes to keep Swedish car company Saab alive flickered Thursday as Dutch exotic automaker Spyker Cars made another bid to buy the troubled brand from General Motors, but a person briefed on the dealings said GM remains skeptical that Saab can be saved.

Spyker confirmed in a statement issued Thursday evening that it made the last-minute offer, which came a day after GM's interim CEO, Ed Whitacre Jr., said he was not optimistic about Saab's survival and the Detroit automaker would begin closing factories later in the week.

"We believe the Saab brand has lots of potential and would be keen to close a deal as quickly as possible," Victor Muller, CEO of Spyker, said in the statement.

The statement gave no financial details of the bid, but said Spyker has had a "constructive dialogue" with GM.

GM will review the Spyker bid, and potentially one from another suitor, as well as talk with the Swedish government about possible financing. But it will proceed with phasing out Saab, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are private.

A final decision could come early next week, the person said.

GM, according to the person, questions whether Spyker has the expertise to run Saab. GM likely would have to continue producing vehicles for a new buyer and would essentially be a partner with the company.

Saab's board, which is controlled by GM, is expected on Friday to begin legal steps to liquidate the company, the person said.

GM and Spyker have been discussing Saab over the last month. GM has also heard from other suitors after an attempt to sell the brand to a consortium led by Swedish sports car manufacturer Koenigsegg Automotive AB fell apart in November.

But Whitacre said Wednesday he is not confident a deal can be reached.

"It's real easy. Just show up with the money and you can have it," he said. "Nobody's come with the money, so were in the wind down deal here."

Spyker is a niche company that manufactures a small number of exotic sports cars that fetch $200,000 or more. In 2008, the company produced just 43 vehicles and lost euro24.8 million ($35.7 million). It sold only 23 cars in the first half of 2009 and would be a credible buyer for Saab only if its bid were supported by other investors.

Spyker was founded in 1999, adopting the name of a defunct brand of Dutch cars that were built in the early 1900s.

Saab still employs about 3,400 people worldwide, most of whom work at its main plant in Trollhattan, Sweden. The brand also has some 1,100 dealers.

On Dec. 18, GM announced its intention to close down the storied Swedish brand. It is eliminating Saab along with Pontiac, Hummer and Saturn as part of a restructuring plan that will leave it with four core brands: Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Spyker C8 Spyder and C12 Zagato pictures

At first I wasn't a fan of the Spyker C8 Spyder and C12 Zagato. When I first saw on at the Festivals of Speed in St Pete, Florida, I thought it was overly busy in it's design. But when I went to the exclusive Jet Port reception and had a chance to sit in the one similar to the one pictured here in blue, I changed my mind and found it uniquely charming and quirky with it's 4 spoked wooden steering wheel and flip switches that were of the quality I had foolishly hoped would be on a Mini Cooper. But apparently you have to spend 6 figures to get nice switches to play with and not some plastic chrome plated junk that won't stand up to man-abuse.

After hearing this thing run in person, I was equally impressed with it's aggressively brutish exhaust note and could only imagine the joy driving it on open roads could bring.
The styling has aeronautical flair to it. Touches like multiple air ports in the rear remind me of WW II fighter plane gun ports.

Plenty of gorgeous leather makes you want to take your shoes off before entering the cockpit.

Like the shiny stuff? They make up in the interior all the chrome you can handle.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Win This Dodge Viper SRT 10 Convertible

I just checked out the website to see if they updated it for the May 2010 drawing for a brand spankin new 2009 Dodge Viper SRT 10 Convertible and sure enough, they did. Why i say new? ok, it's not a 2010, but the odometer reads 6 miles at the time the pictures were taken...

It's a beauty too, Hemi Yellow with two bold black racing lines bisecting the car down the middle front to back.

Thanks to Boniface Hiers of Melbourne, Florida for donating this amazing Muscle car to the "Can't Remember Shit Foundation of Brevard", also known as Brevard Alzheimer's Foundation.
You can see more pics and get tickets for the drawing by going to

Here's some more specs on the car:
8.4L V10 SFI Engine
6 Speed Manual Transmission
Viper Yellow Clear Coat
Preferred Suede & Leather Trim Seats Black
18x10 / 19x13 Forged Aluminum
6 Spoke Wheels
Dual Black Painted Stripes
Aero Group
(Front Spoiler / Rear Winged Spoiler)

Saturday, May 15, 2010 | Wickham Park Pavilion | Melbourne, Florida 32935
6 p.m. until 8 p.m.
(No attendance required to win.)