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Pontiac's headquarters


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The main Pontiac Headquarters complex on Joslyn Avenue in Pontiac still stands. However, the foundry, plants 8, & 17 and most of the assembly complex off of Baldwin Road has been torn down.  Ironically a wrecking yard now stands on part of the property that Pontiac once stood.

I took these pictures on Saturday, August 17, 2018 right after I left the Woodward Dream Cruise. I spent 9 years working at this complex once it was re-named GM Powertrain, from 1998-2007.

The northern most building was the old Pontiac Engineering building - 895 Joslyn Avenue.  When it was Pontiac and GM Powertrain, this building was covered in ivy. Now that the site has been renamed Global Propulsion Systems, the ivy is now gone.

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The middle building was originally just the cafeteria for HQ and Engineering buildings. However, while I was working there, the cafeteria was shutdown and a new building was built behind the hemi-spherically shaped front on the building. This new building, 823 Joslyn Avenue, is the Engine Engineering building. All engine and transmission engineering is done in either 823 or 895 Joslyn.

1888080236_PontiacHQ2.thumb.jpg.046952111fd30daa87b8bb47d500831f.jpg

 

Finally the southern most building is the old Pontiac HQ building that John DeLorean built. The old address use to be 1 Pontiac Plaza, now it is 777 Joslyn Avenue. DeLorean cancelled a car program in order to pay for this building back in the 1960s. The late Pontiac historian John Sawruk confirmed this but it is not known what car program was cancelled. DeLorean did this without GM Board of Directors approval too - a huge no-no. His secretary and he flew to Italy just to select the marble for the building.

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According to some of the old timers that I worked with (e.g. the UAW electricians), there is an urban legend that goes something like this:

While the new Pontiac HQ building was still being built, GM CEO (at the time) Jim Roche was in Pontiac, at the GMC/Chevy truck plant across town, to review a new truck program. After the review ended, Roche's chauffeur is said to have asked Roche, while they were already in Pontiac, if he wanted to see the progress on the new Pontiac HQ building. Roche, not knowing anything about a new Pontiac HQ building, is rumored to have said, "New Pontiac HQ building? Yes, yes I would!". It is said that one look at the steel girders and Roche was instantly pissed and stormed into DeLorean's office unannounced! One can only imagine at what the conversation was like after that.

I find it interesting that Roche's driver knew about the new building and Roche did not in this story!

Edited by Frosty
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It was a group of potential investors lead by a Davison Michigan Pontiac dealer by the name of Jim Waldron. There was never any explanation why GM wouldn’t sell Pontiac when they were actively trying to sell Saab, Saturn, and Hummer at the same time. 

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18 hours ago, Frosty said:

C'était un groupe d'investisseurs potentiels dirigé par un concessionnaire Davison Michigan Pontiac du nom de Jim Waldron. On n'a jamais expliqué pourquoi GM ne vendrait pas Pontiac alors qu'ils essayaient activement de vendre Saab, Saturn et Hummer en même temps. 

From what I understood, it was to keep the prestige of the brand in the GM group.

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Perhaps.

I have my own theories. I think it was one or some combination of the three that is the reason GM didn't sell Pontiac when someone came to them.

 

Theory #1 - GM thinks they might want to bring Pontiac back some day in the future, so they chose to keep it. As much as I'd like to believe and hope for that, the reality (right now) is GM is making more money and profit than ever before with fewer divisions and car models to support. The fact they have also recently shut down manufacturing in Australia (Holden) and sold Opel/Vauxhall to Peugeot means GM is not willing to continue losing money just to have a global presence anymore. They were also close to shutting down GM Korea this year too. There is nothing right now motivating GM to bring back Pontiac or even one or two of it's models.

 

Theory #2 - Saab, Hummer, and Saturn were easy car divisions to separate and sell off. Pontiac was much more vertically integrated in GM with its sister divisions Buick and Chevrolet. So it would have been time consuming and costly for GM to separate facilities, assets, and people and designate them as either GM or Pontiac to make such a purchase work. I think GM was being either cheap, lazy, or both by refusing to do this due diligence. Saab, Saturn, and Hummer were almost standalone car divisions and not as vertically integrated into GM (as Pontiac, Chevrolet, and Buick), and therefore more easily separated.

 

Theory #3 - GM didn't take Mr. Waldron and his backers or their offer to buy Pontiac seriously. They may not have been seen or recognized as prestigious or big name players in the automotive world like Penske (Saturn), Stryker (Saab), and China-based Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company Ltd (Hummer), so they were essentially ignored or dismissed immediately.  When, in fact, it was GM who went to Penske, Styker, and Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company Ltd for the other three. 

Edited by Frosty
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