The Pontiac automobile line was introduced by General Motors in 1926 as a lower priced version of their Oakland Motor Car line. The Pontiac logo was originally meant to represent an Indian (Native American) arrow head, and early slang for the vehicle was to call it an Indian. An Indian Headdress logo was also used for a while. The Pontiac GTO was introduced in 1964, originally as an option package on the LeMans Tempest car. The GTO launched the era of the muscle car. Throughout the 1960s, GTOs were well known for their combination of stunning looks and fire breathing performance.
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The Pontiac Firebird
, introduced in 1967, was an F-body car that closely mirrored the styling and motor offerings of the LeMans
/Tempest cars but in a smaller, sportier platform - and usually with a smaller engine. This body style and its underlying Chevy Nova chassis was shared with the Camaro, but the Firebird's engines and trim were totally different. As upscale competition for sporty cars like the Mercury Cougar or the Dodge Challenger, the Firebird was perfectly positioned.
As time went on the Firebird started to offer the tire smoking performance of it's older brothers, but the American buyer was moving away from big RWD V8 cars and towards the FWD cars. GM's indifferent approach to updating the cars to keep them ahead of the Mustang, or against the new Japanese competition would sound the death knell. Then the Firebird began to be seen as little more than an expensive Camaro - and when sales of F-body twins began to falter, it didn't take long for GM to pull the plug. They did so in 2002, after 35 years of continuous production.
Even more famous was the limited edition Firebird Trans Am, which was first offered in 1969 and continued through the end of the line in 2002. Early on, the Trans Am was most notable for having the very same 400ci V8 engine as its big GTO counterpart, but in a smaller body. This pattern continued through the late 1970s, after which the Trans Am became more of a luxury model than a real performance machine.