Pontiac is a brand of automobiles produced since 1926 and sold in the United States, Canada and Mexico by General Motors (GM), marketed as an "athletic" brand specializing in mainstream performance vehicles.
On April 27, 2009, amid ongoing financial problems and restructuring efforts, GM announced that it would phase out the Pontiac brand by the end of 2010 and focus on four core brands in the U.S.: Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, and GMC.
In my opinion it was badge-engineering that killed Pontiac (An Impala is a Catalina is an Olds 88 is a Lesabre is a Sedan de Ville). Why buy a car from Pontiac if Chevy offered the same car for less money?
This is a Bentley GTC.
It has a six liter, twelve cylinder engine. It gets twelve miles per
gallon. It costs around $197,500, and it will go from zero to sixty
miles per hour in less time than it takes you to read this sentence. It's one impressive Volkswagen.
I know, I know ... the Nissan GT-R looks like a Japanese monster from one of those 50s movies.
And I know it's not politically correct. I know its got limits I could not begin to explore. I know if I tried to explore those limits I'd end up in hospital. For a very long time.
Renault's history in this country is a bit more sordid than the other two French carmakers. Instead of simply withdrawing from the U.S. market, Renault bought an American carmaker to reestablish a beachhead. Unfortunately, Renault bought a majority stake in AMC. AMC (nee Rambler) you might recall, was the purveyor of such memorable vehicles as the Pacer, Gremlin, American,
Matador, and Javelin. What could possibly go wrong?
Answer? Everything. One example was the Renault Alliance (affectionately known as the "Appliance"). By 1986, AMC/Renault/Rambler was on the way to the boneyard. Relief came in 1987 when Chrysler bought AMC, principally to get its hands on the Jeep brand.
So, you ask, what Renaults could I have had if AMC managed to stay afloat? Well this, for instance:
It's the Megane ... weird-looking to be sure, but its reliability is less suspect given Renault's new partnership with Nissan. Lots of body styles including a convertible and a wagon. And who else on your block would have one? And how about this:
No, you haven't stumbled onto Road & Track's site. Just some more unobtainable French car blogging - if I hear the words "Iowa caucuses" one more time, I'll grab an automatic weapon and climb a tower.
Yesterday it was Citroëns - you can't get them here, and whether should you care about that. Today, it's Peugeot, which left the U.S. market in 1991.
This is the Peugeot 107 - the platform was developed jointly with Citroën and Toyota. It's a super mini with a 1.0 liter petrol engine (you can also get a couple different diesels). It can be had with side-curtain airbags. There's even a sport version.
If you want something a little bigger, look at the 207 - it comes in sedan, coupe, convertible, and station wagon form.
As for a mid-size car, there's the 407 - coupe, sedan, and wagon. Looks pretty good except for that ridiculous badge on the hood.
Peugeot also makes one of the ugliest SUVs on the planet:
I think I'd rather see Citroën here than Peugeot, but it would be nice to have the choice. You can see the entire Peugeot line here.
You can't complain anymore about not being able to buy an Alfa Romeo in the United States - Alfa is going to take another crack at the U.S. market starting in 2009. But ask yourself - what other fun European rides can't you get the keys to? Quite a few, including many from the land of the cheese-eating surrender monkeys.
Three French car manufacturers have abandoned the American market - Citroën, Peugeot, and Renault. Citroën left first, in 1974. But take a look at what you could be driving had they not - a Citroën C3 Pluriel:
In Europe, you can get it with a variety of petrol and clean-diesel engines. It's such a happy-looking little car, you say. But watch this:
Yep, the roof rolls back and, unlike the old Deux Chevaux, comes off. But the C3 has one more trick:
Mais oui, the roof rails come off. Three cars in one.
Citroën also makes a large sedan - the C6. TV and movie cameramen love them because the oil-filled suspension produces an unbelievably smooth ride. Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson loved it even though it wasn't weird enough for him. You can watch his review here. And here's a photo:
Tune in tomorrow to find out what sorts of Peugeots you can't buy - and whether you should be sad about it.
Alright already. Yes, I'm an Alfisti. I fell in love with them driving a borrowed '81 Spider. Sure the shift throws were ridiculously long, and sure it only liked to start on warm dry days, but the engine sounds .... Who needed a radio?
Alfa Romeo abandoned ship here in the early 90's. The retreat was partly because the product's reliability was questionable and partly because Alfa never really took customer service and supplying parts seriously. But now Alfa's coming back, and this is their opening salvo:
It's the 8C Competitzione. It costs a quarter of a million dollars. It has a Ferrari-inspired F-1 paddle-shift transmission. Its body is carbon fiber, and it has a pushbutton starter. If you can afford it, fitted Schedoni luggage is an option. If you've got the nerve, it'll do 190 mph. And 0-60 takes 4.2 seconds.
And no, you can't have one. The initial and only production run sold out long ago ... 500 cars. Period. Only 90 will make it to the States. They're making 500 of the convertible version, but somehow it's not as sexy as the coupe. And it's probably sold out too. So tough shit.
So if bitten by the Alfa bug, what will the company permit you to buy? A few guesses:
This is the Alfa Romeo Brera. It's designed by Giugiaro. Here in George W. Bush's America you probably won't be able to get it with the 4-cylinder or available turbodiesel, just a V6. But that's no reason to dismiss it. It's sure to be a blast to drive. One thing that's certain to come here?
Alfa Romeo is returning to the U.S. No, seriously - after unceremoniously abandoning the U.S. market in the early 90s, Alfa returns. To make sure we notice, they are initially bringing a quarter-million dollar supercar, the 8C Competitizione. It's not going to compete in anything (except the showroom), but it's undeniably gorgeous:
Note the way the bottom line of the side vent sweeps up into the A-pillar (front pillar). You can read a styling analysis here.
To see the car at speed, watch this video:
With luck, Alfa will bring a 4-cylinder base Brera here that's an actual sports car instead of an overloaded Italian Monte Carlo. Make my Alfa white with a deep red interior. And quickly!
Some days the outrage caused by our president and his enablers is too much to bear. Today is such a day. So let's stand back and look at something else that will outrage you:
"What is it," you ask, "and why is it so mind-bendingly ugly?" What it is, is the new Packard. The nameplate was for sale, and someone is going to resurrect it, just like Bugatti and Duesenberg were brought back from the dead.
Packard 1.0 built well-engineered, well-made cars like this 1934 Series Eight 1101 Convertible Sedan:
Not bad. As you can see, Packard could really screw together a great car (and design one). It was a marque known for its build quality and styling.
As for the new one, its ugliness is not so much a matter of taste as a matter of having your eyes open. But maybe, just maybe, they'll do the motoring public a favor and redesign it.
Off to Fairway this morning for some clam juice, and what do I see parked on Broadway?
Not only is this Nissan breathtakingly ugly, it's got a 5.6 litre V8 to make sure it uses as much gas as possible. In fact, it gets a mere 13 mpg in the city, where I saw it. Most of them have 4WD - this weight-adding hardware is for conditions you'll almost certainly never encounter. It weighs more than 5,600 pounds - nearly three tons. The bulges over the wheels look tacked on. It's one ugly SUV.
Nissan calls it the "Armada" ... how unfortunate. Don't they know the Armada sank?
This is a Smart car. It lives in NYC and usually parks on my street. It's got a roof that comes off. The model name is "Passion." It says "CDI" on the back - this means turbodiesel (all 3 cylinders' worth). The car has two seats and Danish tags, but happily it has not been torched by a mob. Mercedes (now Daimler Chrysler) owns Smart Cars and was going to start selling them in the U.S. - but they changed their mind. All I can say is, if you have to have a car in the city, what a great choice. What other car do you know of that can make a Honda Element look like a Hummer?
Taking a Break from Monitoring Bu$hCo for a Moment ...
On the left is a drawing of a 1960 Studebaker Lark sedan. Stunning styling such as you see here assured that American consumers had driven a stake through the heart of South Bend, Indiana-based Studebaker by 1966. White Studebakers were often mistaken for major appliances. Few missed the Stupidbaker, as they were sometimes called.
The other car you see is a 2005 Kia Amanti (Studebaker had a car called the Avanti ... hmmm). Note the, um, grill. Two of them park close to my apartment building. I have never driven one, but I can assure you that: 1) the car is even uglier in the metal (especially the rear three-quarter view), and 2) park an Amanti (more photos) next to the Studebaker and the Studebaker would look like a Ferrari 575M Superamerica. Is the Kia Amanti automotive design blight on the order of the Pontiac Aztek, the PT Cruiser, or the Chrysler 300 (scroll down)? Is it homelier than a Hummer H2? Does it make you pine for your AMC Pacer?
Or can you think of an uglier car? Maybe a tri-tone Maybach ...