Pontiac Played With Pickups, Never Delivered


General Motors' decision to pull the plug on Pontiac means we'll never see a pickup from the once-proud performance brand; at one time or another, there were three it considered building.

However unlikely it might seem, the idea of a Pontiac pickup came to life every couple of decades at Pontiac. In 1958, after watching Ford gain sales success with the Ranchero, GM decided to follow suit with the 1959 El Camino, based on the Chevy Impala. That same year GM also experimented with a Pontiac coupe-utility based on the full-size Catalina sedan, coupe and wagon platform. Legend has it that Pontiac built two of these 1959 “El Catalina” utes. One was used as a parts-hauler around the factory for many years, but the idea was never OK'd for production.

In 1978, GM created an all-new midsize platform for the Chevy El Camino and its near-identical stablemate, the GMC Caballero (called the Sprint until 1977). Hoping to sell something with a stronger identity instead of different badging, Pontiac and GMC teamed up to create a coupe-utility that shared its front end and sporty wheels with the aggressive-looking LeMans-trimmed Grand Am. The so-called "Grand Amino" prototype was shown to executive management but axed in favor of the El Camino/Caballero status quo.

The last effort by Pontiac to build a pickup was its most serious. It came in 2008 when the was introduced to the public at the New York auto show. The G8 sport truck was based on the Holden ute from Australia, where car-based trucks have long been popular. It would have come to market with a 361-horsepower V-8 had it not been killed as part of GM's initial restructuring efforts to survive the current financial crisis that has now caused GM to kill the Pontiac brand all together.


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