US & Canada

Pontiac car brand goes out of business

Pontiac GTO
Image caption The GTO transformed Pontiac into a muscle car brand

Pontiac - one of the US car industry's most iconic brands - has finally gone out of business.

It happened a year after its parent company General Motors announced its shutdown in a major restructuring.

Set-up in 1926, Pontiac came to embody the image of the American muscle-car, with hugely popular models like the Bonneville, GTO and Firebird TransAm.

The cars featured in Hollywood movies in the 1960s-70s. But sales had been in decline since the 1980s.

Finally, GM's catastrophic financial problems spelt the brand's demise.

Terminal decline

From its roots in the Michigan city of Pontiac in the 1920s, the brand was aimed at the working class.

It almost died three decades later but was revived by GM when the company linked the car to drag racing and it acquired the muscle image, the BBC's Peter Bowes in Los Angeles reports.

The ready to race GTO, with a powerful V8 engine under the bonnet, helped the brand thrive in the 1960s, our correspondent says.

In 1968, Pontiac's sales hit nearly one million - a feat never to be repeated again.

Its profile went global in the 1970s when Burt Reynolds drove a black and gold Firebird in the hit film Smokey and the Bandit.

But in the late 1990s General Motors began to cut back on its performance image and mechanical problems with some of the later models damaged the company's reputation with people who bought sports cars.

And in recent years - with GM's troubles - Pontiac had been in terminal decline.

In the end, it was a changing market, declining sales and a brutal restructuring at GM that brought the curtain down on Pontiac.

GM had to rescue itself from bankruptcy and Pontiac was one of the victims.

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