The Great Experiment Is Over

 Pontiac has annouced the demise of the Sunfire in June, bringing to a close the worst example of badge engineering to date, although the Chevy Trailblazer, Isuzu Ascender, and Saab 9-7x is coming close.

 In 1982 GM released the J-Body platform, a front-drive compact platform meant to compete directly with the Japanese imports that were starting to erode GM's market share. In a not-so-brilliant move, GM decreed that each division would have it's own version, thus the Chevy Cavalier, Pontiac J200, Oldsmobile Firenza, Buick Skyhawk, and Cadillac Cimarron were born. Putting out five cars that were all basically the same under the skin had predictable results. Cadillac and Oldsmobile dropped their version after 1988, with Buick holding on for one more year.

 Chevy and Pontiac soldiered on, with the Arrowhead's version changing names three times, going from 2000 to Sunbird to Sunfire. Chevrolet just replaced the Cavalier with the Cobalt, but Pontiac has decided not to have it's own version. GM seems to have learned at least something from this debacle, finally, but leaving Pontiac without an entry-level model sure doesn't seem like a plan for success either. POntiac is apparently thinking of importing a model to fill the gap, but says there's nothing on the drawing board for at least 18 months.

 Pontiac is the performance oriented division, but apparently that performance is no longer for entry-level buyers. They'll have to get their performance itch scratched somewhere else.


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