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Lutz Says Pontiac G8 Not Entirely Dead, But Destination a Dilemma

Buick lacks a RWD sedan, and the division has the performance heritage to sell such a car.

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NADA Convention & Exposition

ORLANDO, FL – General Motors Co. Vice Chairman Bob Lutz suggests the ill-fated Pontiac G8 sports sedan may not be destined for the graveyard after all.

The G8, a tightly sprung rear-wheel-drive car featuring a lively 3.6L V-6 as standard equipment, or optional high-powered 6.0L and 6.2L V-8 engines with an available 6-speed manual transmission, won over enthusiasts for its value but was killed along with the Pontiac brand last year.

Over the course of some 18 months on sale in the U.S., the GM Holden Ltd.-built G8 sold 35,623 units, according to Ward’s data. The car promised such potential that GM considered adding a version with a pickup bed after a G8 Sport Truck concept bowed to good reviews.

Reviewing the sedan in 2008, Ward’s editors gushed over its proportions, tunable suspension and V-8 availability for less than $33,000.

But with GM’s bankruptcy last year came difficult decisions. GM chose to kill Pontiac as part of a strategy that jettisoned four brands and kept Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick and GMC.

There was initial talk of using the G8’s underpinnings for the next Chevrolet Impala, but then-CEO Fritz Henderson lamented such a move would recall GM’s disastrous days of badge engineering. New corporate fuel-economy regulations also helped put a stake into the heart of a RWD drive Impala.

However, recognizing an opportunity, GM will start sales next year of a Chevy Caprice using the G8’s platform for the law-enforcement sector.

Lutz jokes at a J.D. Power & Associates conference here on the eve of this weekend’s National Automobile Dealers Assn. meeting that GM is taking the G8 “out of the hands of the violators and (putting it) into the hands of the enforcers.”

But he also once again confesses his fondness for the car and reservations about it disappearing from GM’s lineup. The question is what to do with it.

“Where are you to put it?” Lutz asks Ward’s after his speech, reflecting the dilemma facing the car’s placement in another division when it was engineered specifically as a Pontiac.

As a Chevy, the G8 probably would bite too deeply into Impala sales. It doesn’t carry the luxury attributes necessary to become a Cadillac, and GMC is for trucks.

That leaves the 106-year-old Buick division, which at this point in its renaissance does lack a RWD sedan and has the performance heritage to sell such a car.

Lutz says stay tuned. “Right now it’s a police car. Down the road, it might be something else,” he says. “But it’s too early to talk about.”

However, it’s not too late to snap up a G8. Ward’s data shows 96 units remained on dealer lots at the close of January.

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