The decade of the 2000s was terrible for General engines, as a financial crisis and poor sales left it staring into bankruptcy. To save the iconic company, the US government decided that GM had to close four of its eight sub-brands. The first three – Hummer, Saab and Saturn – were easy decisions for GM because they all struggled. The fourth was a difficult choice, however, as it was between Buick and Pontiac.
Most gearheads expected GM to save Pontiac, as it had a more youthful and performance-oriented fan base. In the end, GM kept Buick, which in our opinion was a big mistake. This article examines five great Buicks versus five better cars showing why GM should have kept Pontiac instead.
10 Great Buick: GNX
Buick has always had a reputation for making boring old man cars. In 1987, Buick decided to change that by building one of the coolest muscle cars of the 80s: the GNX.
The GNX was based on the Grand National, but was tuned by ASC McLaren to produce over 300 horsepower. The GNX was incredibly fast, beating icons like the Ferrari F40 to the quarter-mile finish. With only 547 units produced, the GNX is extremely rare and expensive.
9 Pontiac we prefer: GTO Judge
The GNX is a great muscle car, but it’s no better than what many consider to be the ultimate muscle car – the Pontiac GTO. Devised by John DeLoreanRuss Gee and Bill Collins, the GTO debuted in the early 1960s as an optional package for the Le Mans, but was such a big hit that Pontiac turned it into a separate model.
Any GTO would make a great addition to any collection, but the one that gets everyone excited is the 1969 GTO Judge. The GTO Judge had a much better design than the stock GTO and a lot more power – up to 366 horsepower.
8 Awesome Buick: Special Skylark
Every manufacturer wanted to downsize in the early 1960s to meet new customer demands. As such, GM decided to introduce a redesigned Buick Special sedan to compete with the Chevy Corvair and Ford Falcon.
Shortly afterwards, Buick came out with an even more “special” version of the Special: the Skylark. Powered by an innovative aluminum V8 with 200 horsepower on tap, the Skylark was a much better deal than its competitors.
7 Pontiac we prefer: Solstice GXP
Pontiac went through hell in the early 2000s as it struggled to sell cars. Even the revival of the GTO did not help the brand, so in 2006 Pontiac decided to give it one last try by developing a new sports car: the Solstice GXP.
The Solstice GXP was a promising car for Pontiac. It had an attractive design, an affordable price tag and a fantastic 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with an output of 260 hp. The Solstice GXP also offered premium features such as a Stabilitrak traction control system, anti-lock brakes and a limited-slip differential.
6 Great Buick: Riviera
The Riviera was a huge commercial success for Buick from its introduction in 1963 until the end of production in 1999. As one of GM’s first personal luxury cars, the Riviera received high praise for its exquisite design and the fact that it was much lighter in weight. was then its rival – the Ford Thunderbird.
Of all the Rivieras ever built, the third-generation model is perhaps the most desirable. It’s the nicest of the bunch and comes with a 7.5-litre V8 that produces 315 ponies.
5 Pontiac We Prefer: 1959 Bonneville
The decade of the 1950s gave us many beautiful American cars with elongated bodies, flowing lines and bold rears. A good example of this is the 1959 Pontiac Bonneville.
Unlike the Riviera above, the 1959 Bonneville wasn’t just about looks. It had power to match, thanks to a monstrous 345 horsepower Tri-Power V8 engine. It also had advanced technologies such as air suspension, fuel injection and a four-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission.
4 Great Buick: GSX Stage 1
When you think of models built during the golden age of muscle cars, Buick isn’t the first manufacturer that comes to mind. However, Buick made several attempts to build a powerful muscle car, and the best came in the form of the GSX Stage 1.
Introduced in 1970, the GSX Stage One was believed to be Buick’s answer to the Pontiac GTO Judge, Chevy Chevelle SS and Oldsmobile 442 W-30. While not as popular as its competitors, the GSX Stage 1 featured a monstrous 455 V8 engine with 390 horsepower and a record-breaking 510 lb-ft of torque.
3 Pontiac We Prefer: 1977 Firebird Trans Am
The decade of the ’70s gave us some of the worst muscle cars in history. There were a few exceptions, though, including the 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. This great muscle car had it all.
First, it had a fantastic design with a black and gold paint job with a flaming bird logo on the hood. It was also quite fast at the time, as it had a 220 hp V8. The main reason we love the 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am is that it’s one of the coolest movie cars, having played a key role in Burt Reynolds’ movie Smokey and the Bandit†
2 Great Buick: Regal GS
The Regal has been Buick’s bread and butter since its introduction in 1973. Now in its sixth generation, the Regal continues to deliver the style, practicality, comfort and affordability of its predecessors. The Regal doesn’t offer much in the way of power, which is why Buick builds the powerful GS version.
The latest Regal GS is powered by a 3.6-litre V6 engine that sends 310 ponies to all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission.
1 Pontiac we prefer: Fiero GT
The Fiero surprised everyone when it debuted in the early 1980s. It had a beautiful wedge-shaped design that rivaled European sports cars and was the first mass-produced American mid-engine sports car since the 1920s.
Things got even better for the Fiero when Pontiac introduced the GT in 1985. The Fiero GT had an upgraded V6 engine with 43 horsepower more than the base Fiero, wider tires and an improved suspension system.