GM Salvages The Pontiac G8 From The Bankruptcy Junkyard

The Pontiac G8, from what we can tell, is considered the only Pontiac worth saving — and so it has been saved. It’ll now be known as the Chevrolet Caprice, according to USAToday.

Confirmation came in an interview with Bob Lutz, just brought back into GM’s top management team, according to Automobile magazine. “The last time we looked at (the G8), we decided that we would continue to import it as a Chevrolet,” Lutz is quoted as saying. “It is kind of too good to waste.”

Too good to waste because the G8 was unique — a powerful, rear-wheel-drive sedan that could not only appeal to traditional red-blooded American enthusiasts, but the police car market as well. With Ford’s Crown Victoria aging, and no replacement apparently on the way, the rear-wheel-drive sedan market was almost entirely being abandoned to the Dodge Charger.

The G8 is imported from Australia, where it is made by a GM’s subsidiary. Down under it’s known as the Commodore, which isn’t exactly the best name ever, but is still cooler than “Caprice.” Oh well.

Our sister publication, Consumer Reports, is all aflutter over the decision:

Consumer Reports editors and engineers have been lamenting the expected loss of this world-class, rear-drive car and are encouraged that one of GM’s best models may survive the restructuring process.

They do so heart the G8 over there.

America’s next police car? [USAToday]

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  1. OminousG says:

    G8 is a kick ass car. But this does suck. i was planning to pick up a V8 G8 for around $20,000. Now that people know parts and support are only a brand away, the price won’t be so great :(

    • bohemian says:

      @OminousG: I sure hope it is better engineered that the G6. That was the worst car I have ever driven. That includes the $400 cars I had in college.

      • baquwards says:

        @bohemian: My mom rented a G6 this weekend, on her way from Florida to Georgia one of the front grills just fell off, and this thing was new with only a few miles on it, when will GM ever learn?

      • Subliminal0182 says:

        @bohemian: The G8 is engineered by Holden, which is an automaker in Australia. Over there, the Holden Commodore is the G8 and from what I’ve read in MotorTrend and personal experience, the G8 is very well engineered. It’s got great handling and one of the few American cars I’d buy if I had the dough.

        Holden also took over final development and engineering of the new Camaro.

    • KMan13 still wants a Pontiac G8 says:

      @OminousG:
      these were never going to be cheap.
      they’re already collectors items.

  2. TouchMyMonkey says:

    Caprice is what usually lands you in the back seat of police cars. I find it hard to believe that one would name a cop car that.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      @HurtsSoGood: The old rounded Chevrolet cop cars from the ’90s and the square Chevrolet cop cars from the late ’70s through the ’80s were Caprices.

    • andyross says:

      @HurtsSoGood: Before they started using GS/LS/SE/SEL etc… for trim level, they often used separate names. Caprice was typically the name of the top-line full-size car. For awhile, I think there were four: Biscayne, Bel Air, Impala, Caprice.

  3. I Love New Jersey says:

    They actually sell it as a Chevy Caprice in the Middle East, so they have all the tooling and parts in the bin.

    • Anonymous says:

      @I Love New Jersey:

      Actually the Middle Eastern Caprice is not the same as the G8, it’s a size bigger, the same as the Holden Statesman or the Chinese Market Buick Park Avenue.

      The Middle Eastern G8 Equivalent is called the Lumina.

  4. Joewithay says:

    See everyone, US car markers can make good cars. They just have to come from another country and be rebadged for the US.

    • Jim Topoleski says:

      @Joewithay: You realize most cars are not developed in the countries they built them from. It doesnt matter what manufacture either, the Germans/French/Japanese/Koreans/and US ALL have development houses all over the place.

    • firemunkie says:

      ive always wondered why the car manufactures dont move to south texas. i live near an area called the foreign trade zone(where the xboxs go after a rrod). if the big three came down here they would save thier asses.

      people here work for cheap, work hard, and take abuse. they dont question they dont complain. benefits? whats that? they will work till they day they die.

      plus half the car is made in mexico anyways. might aswell put them together a lil closer to each other

  5. HiPwr says:

    By naming it Caprice, there is little doubt that they will be aggresively marketing it to police departments.

  6. RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

    I drove one of these as a rental this past weekend while my Aura was having warranty work done on it. Did not care for it. Bit of a gas-guzzler, that, even compared to the V6 in the Aura. The interior left a lot to be desired too. Overall, it earned a resounding meh (although to be fair, I’m sure the rental company didn’t really feel like springing for the fully loaded model).

    • Tux the Penguin says:

      @RecordStoreToughGuy: The G8 is luxury compared to the G6. Ugg, I had to drive one of those for a week when I was in California on business. Granted, it was probably stripped, but it did have a v6. Wow was it horrible.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        @Tux the Penguin:

        I don’t know what happened between the Grand Am and the G6…the Grand Am I got all the time as a rental, and they were fine. The G6 I was absolutely unable to find a comfortable driving position in…no combo of seat position and wheel adjustment worked at all. And I’m a thoroughly average-sized guy.

        Blah.

        • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

          @YouDidWhatNow?: I know, right? I felt like my ass was dragging the ground and the wheel was in my lap the whole time. Couldn’t get situated comfortably no matter how much I tried.

          @Jim Topoleski: My parents have a Malibu. They like it as much as I like my Aura. Dunno how they managed to strike out with the G6. Only thing it seems to have going for it is that it looks nice. :-/

          • bohemian says:

            @RecordStoreToughGuy: I am average height but the seats in those things simply can not be adjusted to any position that doesn’t force my neck forward. I tried adjusting the headrest only to discover the portion of the seat that was the problem was the seat back itself below the headrest.

            • esc27 says:

              Eh, I must have a different car (or maybe they don’t hold up well in rental fleets…) The seats do get uncomfortable on occasion, but it handles almost exactly the same as the old 95′ Grand Prix it replaced. It’s an ’06 so maybe something changed…

      • Jim Topoleski says:

        @Tux the Penguin: What I cant get is how the G6 can suck so horrible, yet the Aura and new Malibu which are the same platform are JOYS to drive.

        I couldnt stand the G6 I test drove, yet I ended up buying a XR Aura.

      • bohemian says:

        @Tux the Penguin: I got to drive a 2008 model as a rental. This was supposedly the fully loaded version and I was the first person renting it. That car sucked horribly. If I won one I would turn around and sell it. It had lousy handling and the seats would not adjust to fit an average height woman.

  7. ToddMU03 says:

    Good thing they aren’t doing anything like building it in the States with American workers.

    • personnext says:

      @ToddMU03: Indeed, a very good thing. If it were built in America, it wouldn’t be a good car. Americans can’t build cars.

    • mrearly2 says:

      What?? And cut into the billion$ profit? That’s just not good business sense. And why should the shareholders care if people here are hungry?

  8. jpdanzig says:

    Despite his admission on Letterman that he’s had to “cut back” during the current depression by selling his fighter jet, Bob Lutz is still one of the best car guys in the industry. Props to him for saving the G8 in America. I assume they’ll give the car a Chevy grill instead of the split Pontiac snout. Now if Lutz can do something about the reliability of GM cars…

  9. MostlyHarmless says:

    They could have called it “Caprica”. A finicky mercurial and unreliable, albeit hot looking killing machine.

    [I have no idea how the G8's performance is. Any attempts to enlighten me about it will be promptly ignored.]

  10. humphrmi says:

    Man, I’ve had two Caprices, both ’85′s, they were great cars. I hope this newfangled Aussie car can live up to it’s reputation.

  11. H3ion says:

    Caprice was used by Chevy as a model name…don’t recall when. Was a decent car too.

    • Shadowman615 says:

      @H3ion: Yup, it was similar to the crown vic. Also the Caprice was a often used as a cop car in late 70s, & 80s

  12. JollyJumjuck says:

    No wonder it’s a Pontiac worth saving: it’s made in Australia rather than North America, and by a GM subsidiary. It’s a decent car disguised as a Pontiac!

  13. SubPrimeLender says:

    its made by a company called “holden” , which also made the “gto” and G6 pontiac brands.
    [www.holden.com.au]

    They have made many other US models in the past , GM has owned them for a very long time.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      @dgruzew: Holden had nothing to do with the awful G6 and it’s insulting to suggest that they did. That was an all-American monstrosity.

  14. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    Calling it the Chevy Caprice is a fatal marketing flaw when you already have marketplace recognition. Rebadging the Taurus to the “Five Hundred” really hurt Ford. Would have it hurt to call it the Chevy G8?

    • GearheadGeek says:

      @BuddyGuyMontag: Caprice is a long-time Chevy model, but it’s a bit upside down… the doggy front-drive Impala should be called a Caprice, and the G8 should be an Impala since historically the Caprice was the biggest/poshest Chevy, and the Impala was higher performance.

      • Zachary Jacob Zblewski says:

        @GearheadGeek: The G8 is bigger than the Impala, no?

        So it makes sense that the G8 would be called the Caprice and the Impala would stay itself.

        • GearheadGeek says:

          @Zachary Jacob Zblewski: No, the G8 isn’t larger than the Impala. It’s a bit heavier, but that’s mostly due to packaging (RWD vs FWD) and bigger engines. The Impala is 4″ longer overall and slightly taller, though it’s a bit narrower and has a shorter wheelbase than the G8. They’re essentially the same size, and the G8 is far and away the higher-performance vehicle of the 2.

  15. dangermike says:

    I test drove a G8 GT back in February or March when the future of my current car (Mini Cooper S) was uncertain (I crashed it). Anyway, the G8 shows exactly why GM is where they are now. The sentiment “It is kind of too good to waste” is wrought with error. If they want to do well with sales, it shouldn’t be “kind of too good.” It should be nothing short of a great car to move forward. And I will absolutely contest that it is not a great car.

    The GT model is not available with a manual transmission. The only way to get a stick is to pay the premium for the top end (GXP, I think) which has an uprated engine. The interior of the car is very GM. It’s slightly claustrophobic but otherwise bland and unoffensive. For a car the size of a G8, there should be more room in every direction. In terms of driver-space, it’s pretty close to a Mazda 6. Usable, even for a guy as big as me, but not even close to the seemingly oxymoronic spaciousness available in the Mini and VW compact hatchbacks. The engine was impressively powerful. They boast 0-60 numbers in the low 5′s, and it certainly feels that way. But the suspension feels floaty and uncertain. They have effectively buffered all feedback available from the tires, and the steering is likewise numb and loose. Add to that the fly-by-wire throttle, and you’re left feeling like you’re driving a video game. There is absolutely no feedback and with the amount of power in the GT model, this become a severe liability. The exterior styling is subtle, almost sedate, but in a good way. It looks like a proper sleeper muscle car without being dated and boring like the GTO they tried to make out of the Monaro a few years ago. It’s a mixed bag but ultimately a disappointment in my eyes. It has a lot of potential but ultimately lacks the driving excitement that Pontiac claimed to be based on for so much of my life. Add to that the fact that comparable cars were available in the form of the Mopar LX models (300/Charger) with a proper ride, more space, and a price tag 20% lower, and it’s not hard to see why GM went *pop*.

    So I suppose I might come around a bit. It might be kind of too good waste. But it is certainly too bad to sell at this point. It would not take much development work to make it great (make a wider selection of transmissions available, rework the interior without the 20 year old “F-16 cockpit wraparound” motif, stiffen up the suspension to where it actually transmits info from the road to the driver, and dump that idiotic fly-by-wire system to improve throttle response, and then it might be a great car. Give it a badge that’s appropriate to what it is (too small for caprice and impala but it might work as a monte carlo). What I would really like to see is a simplified retro body on the zeta platform ala the dodge challenger to resurrect the Nova badge. That could be awesome. Every gear head that was a chevy guy growing up had a Nova at some point, and they always remember them fondly. The key would be a simple, light body, a broad set of engine and tranny options, and being able to select the high end performance options WITHOUT the useless luxury frills they require on the GTO and G8. A 275 horse V6 would be perfect, keeping the mpg higher than a low output V8 and would leave enough engine compartment space to make a REALLY mean supercharged model as an SS.

    • mrearly2 says:

      Yeah, that’s no good. Gotta have a stick-shift, especially if we’re gonna be hounded about “using less fuel”.

  16. SubPrimeLender says:

    your correct – g6 was the saturn aura and the saab 9-3 adn chevy malibo

    I was thinking of the holden munaro = GTO , for some reason I thought the GTO was based on the G6

  17. elganador says:
  18. admiral_stabbin says:

    Smart move to keep the G8 out of the trash bin…if gas prices stay where they are. But to re-use the Caprice name…

    That either,

    A) Takes great vision that I don’t have

    B) One of the worst product naming ideas of I’ve heard of

    I’m putting my vote on option B.

    I’m a fan of V8 RWD sedans. I drive one of the other GM Australian (Holden) red-headed-step-child-rear-wheel-drive-V8 cars…the current generation Cadillac STS.

    • HRHKingFridayXX says:

      @admiral_stabbin: see also, Chevy Malibu. Maybe they’re going for an 80s throwback? Because man, 80s cars are really something to remember.

      • baquwards says:

        @HRHKingFridayXX: I agree I think naming the current car the “Malibu” brings up thoughts of an ugly mediocre car with iffy reliability. I bet that the ford fusion wouldn’t have done quite so well named the “Tempo” or the “Contour”

  19. sponica says:

    I like the G8, I’ve rented it a couple times….but here’s something the American car companies haven’t quite adapted to, youth these days (and by youth I mean 20-somethings like me) don’t really car about a driving experience or anything related to car design. Is the car A) affordable and B) can it get from point A to point B are the criteria for buying a car. I read an article about youth of America and car ownership….of course there’s also the fun complication of paying through the nose in student loan payments makes you not want an expensive car

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      @sponica:

      Well, honestly, the youth of america don’t buy cars. The average age of a Scion buyer is over 30, and that’s about the most youth-oriented brand around…

  20. MacMasterShane says:

    woah woah woah…
    what about the solstice? or even the Solstice Coupe?
    those things handled awesome, so well that they actually managed to oust the Miata’s from their C-Stock throne in SCCA Autocrossing.

    and GM seemed to understand when they released the Z0K package of a stripped out one with better springs, shocks, and an LSD.

  21. redkamel says:

    I think the Commodore is the best name of the three. Please US, come back, I look at some of the old designs and there was so much potential. Break with the “tech” look and go somewhere new.Also, work on reliability ;-)

    But my taste in cars is strange as I also think American car styling (lead sleds baby) peaked in the 40s-50s as the newer cars look very, very generic and lack identity. I also had a revelation at the Lexus dealer that I didn’t need a reverse camera since I know how to drive a car, I want a key and not the “keyless keys” since those can’t get wet/sandy/dirty, I thought it strange there’s no way to start the car with the real key, and that I dont care about nav since I have it on my phone AND I know how to read a map…and I’m “only” 26. I guess a real sports car would pose no problem for me. BTW I was at the dealer to look at a used 2002, but I had to sit through his spiel on the newer models.

  22. Tsubasa says:

    I don’t understand… are new names hard to come by? Why do they keep recycling names for new cars that are nothing like their namesakes? I don’t understand going to the trouble of designing an awesome new car and then giving it the name of some 80′s car.

    It’s like naming your daughter Eunice or Gertrude.

  23. WraithSama says:

    Yeah, I love my 2001 Toyota MR2 Spyder, it’s a blast to drive!

    Wait… what, we’re talking about American cars? Why would you want to buy one of those?!

  24. Squeezer99 says:

    i’m all for it if it gets rid of the horrible pontiac grill on the front bumper.

  25. From the cubicle of PGibbons says:

    Since the Humvee and megatruck market dried up (wow, who saw THAT coming?….) the market for their weak testosterone buggies is the police departments and other audiences captive to buying US labels.

    So basically GM will be the supplier to the government, since the government owns ‘em.

    Oh wait – Obama wants to pretend the government DOESN’T own them… ’cause to do so would mean ‘socialism’ and all the other evils of working together as a country blah blah blah… So GM will be private wealth financed by public money where the public doesn’t have much of a say in the whole process?

    Heads private wealth wins, tails the taxpayers lose.

  26. synergy says:

    That’s not right. I learned to drive on a 1980s-era Chevy Caprice and that is NOT a Caprice!

  27. meechybee says:

    Proves that GM hasn’t changed.

    They finally get a brand name that has respect — and change it.

    What was wrong with just calling it the “Chevrolet G8″? Same idiots seem to be in charge.

  28. Dawnrazor says:

    This is great news. Many feel the G8 is one of the best cars GM has ever sold in the U.S., and to see it killed so soon after it was introduced would have been extremely frustrating (and would have been yet another boneheaded decision made by GM brass).

    Let’s cross our fingers and hope they will offer a proper Impala SS on this platform at some point.

  29. Kirk Black says:

    G8 is the best car that has been made by GM for years, funny thing is GM stole it from Vauxhal VXR [www.cartuningcentral.com]

    • GearheadGeek says:

      @Kirk Black: “stole” it? You do realize that Vauxhall is a GM brand unless/until they get Adam Opel sold, right? That’s like saying you stole from yourself by transferring money from your bank account at to your credit union account.

      • Kirk Black says:

        @GearheadGeek:
        Yes I do relize the GM owns vauxhall but there are no difference between the two cars at all even in the body pannels, just rebaged that is all I am saying whould have been nice if it was a little difference but all around one of the best American well really Austrailian

        • Kirk Black says:

          @Kirk Black:
          Also suxs that vauxhals aren’t sold here only car company I can think of with all good looking cars, although some of them if you try to drive you will torque steer into a tree LOL

  30. AgentG8 says:

    I have had my Pontiac G8 for a few weeks now. With incentives, I got a great deal on a (so far) great car. My last GM vehicle was a 2000 Chevy Venture that fell apart underneath me in under 7 years, and I was a little leary about going with GM again. I am happy to report that the G8 is actually quite a capable car. Driven lightly, the gas mileage return is better than posted. Driven somewhat aggressively, the smileage return is even higher. I find the initial quality of build to be pretty good and the ride quality to be fantastic. There is enough room for a small circus in the back seat, and all their gear in the trunk. I am very happy about my purchase at this point and time will tell when it comes to how it holds up over time. I look forward to the G8 being re-badged under the ‘all-new’ GM family, but would like to see its reincarnation in the form of an Buick Grand National instead of the Caprice, but I believe economically, selling thousands of these to Law Enforcement as a Caprice probably makes more fiscal sense.

  31. korybing says:

    I wish they’d bring back early 90s Grand Prix, since apparently mine is made of pixie dust and unicorn farts that magically hold the thing together and ensure that it will never die. I take crap care of the thing and it still has only broken down once the entire time I’ve owned it. If all Pontiacs were as good as mine I would be a Pontiac owner for life.

    If, well, they hadn’t killed the brand. Whups.

  32. lasereric41 says:

    My confusion is why, when GM is owned by the US Government (mostly), and Americans are starving for work, GM would be allowed to wipe out 20% of their domestic workforce, yet continue to import one of their models. This is why I buy imports; at least an American built my NISSAN!

    I liked the G8 for its power and the way it felt on the road, but I thought it was a little uncomfortable. A little more attention to seating would have been welcome…