By Jim Travers
April 28, 2009

A popular and often heated discussion among gearheads has been debating future classics. The untimely demise of Pontiac has thrown a little gasoline onto the fire, having us wondering, what current Pontiacs will be considered classics 20 years from now.

The once proud brand is, of course, responsible for many models now considered desirable classics including the first- and second-generation Firebirds, original Grand Prix coupes, and legendary LeMans GTO that is widely credited with starting the whole muscle car craze. Back then, Pontiac was defined as the GM brand that brought a sporty image even to its sedans, as loudly touted in the "wide-track" Pontiac ad campaign of the 1960s.

That Pontiac era may be long gone, sadly replaced with an image as largely a manufacturer of cars to be avoided at the rental counter. (Ahem, G6.) But Pontiac may, as its swan song, have provided speculators and future collectors with a slam-dunk candidate for collectability. No, not the Solstice roadster and coupe, but rather the mighty G8 sedan from the land Down Under.

The G8 represents the culmination of GM's effort of the past few years to revive the image of Pontiac from the glory days. It's also a really good car, even if it arrived a little too late. Where the GTO of 2004-6 and more recently the Solstice roadster were bold moves for a company trying to save itself, neither hit their target spot on. With the G8, they nailed it. The G8 is the highest scoring Pontiac in our tests. (However, it is not CR Recommended, since do not have enough data to predict reliability.)

With handling and performance rivaling pricey European sports sedans for thousands of dollars less, the G8, like the collector-worthy GTO before it, combines the brawny V8 power with a sophisticated chassis. In other words, it goes around corners and stops, in addition to being capable of respectable acceleration. And many of us liked its muscular-sounding V8 burble. That it can comfortably and safely transport up to five people at the same time is just a bonus. We think that the G8 would make a nice Chevrolet Impala SS, but according to GM, such models "...will not be rebadged as vehicles for other divisions..."

Sadly for Pontiac and its fans, the 17-mpg G8 arrived last year just in time for $4.00 a gallon gasoline followed by a tanking economy. With consumers crossing even practical cars off their shopping lists, a flashy, muscle sedan made no sense at all, even if it was a bargain.

Maybe that'll change in 20 years.

Consumer Reports Cars Blog Article