A part of my youth just passed away. The Pontiac brand of General Motors will officially go to the graveyard of dead cars on Sunday.
Pontiac lived for 84 years and produced the Bonneville, one of my parents' past family cars; the GTO, Firebird and other well-known vehicle names. The cars were known for being sportier than Chevrolets and not as upscale as Buicks and Oldsmobiles.
The Pontiac GTO, with its 389 cubic inch engine, became the poster child for the term "muscle car" during its heyday from 1964 to 1974. It was the speedy getaway vehicle which allowed Burt Reynold's character to elude the sheriff in Smokey and the Bandit, and was designed by John DeLorean, who later created the DeLorean stainless steel sports car.
In the '60s, Pontiac was third to Chevy and Ford in car sales but its share declined over time to where, by early 2009, the car brand was 12th in the U.S. market.
My father was a loyal Chevy buyer and I remember the excitement in our household when he decided to buy the larger, more elegant Pontiac Bonneville. The "Bonnie" was the first car I learned to drive, complete with automatic transmission and, at the time, revolutionary power steering and power brakes. I shudder to think now about the size of that boat on wheels, driving it in traffic, and trying to parallel park.