Will Obama kill GM's last interesting cars?

Government Motors(TM), the new automaker which will replace General Motors, has already experienced regime change at the direction of new CEO-in-chief Barack Obama. In light of some recent product mix realignment at GM, one has to wonder if POTUS is not calling the shots on GM’s model line-up as well.

Changes at Cadillac, Chevrolet and Pontiac, the GM divisions which were making interesting cars, don’t bode well for people who actually enjoy driving. Those who hate personal transportation and will only settle for boring automobiles as appliances only slightly more interesting than the standard kitchen toaster oven, however, will be pleased.

At Chevrolet, the Cobalt SS sedan will be dropped for the 2010 model year. Adios to the little pocket rocket with its 260-hp turbocharged four. GM had finally transformed the mediocre Cobalt into something fun to drive, but that didn’t last long. Until Ford’s new Focus RS comes stateside, the hopped-up little Chevy Sedan arguably provides the best bang for the buck in its class. Rumor has it that the coupe version will not survive the Obamunists’ axe, either.

Another bowtie brand casualty is the Impala SS, which means goodbye to the 5.3L V8 engine in in a front-wheel drive Chevy sedan. The hottest available Impala engine will be the lackadaisical 3.9L pushrod V6. Yawn… In truth, enthusiasts won’t miss the big SS that much. While it offers adequate power, the handling is just plain numb.

What will be missed is the HHR SS, which is due to meet the executioner in July of 2010. Styled like a 1949 Chevrolet Suburban in miniature, the retro-SUV is a surprisingly competent little box. With the turbo 2.0 four-banger mated to a slick 5-speed manual with no-lift shifting and launch control, it’s a blast to drive at a bargain price. Buh-bye.

Since the entire Pontiac brand is slated for the chopping block, we really shouldn’t be surprised that the G6 EXP model will be dropped before the division is phased out. This one is a no-brainer. GM designers ruined the basically clean lines of the smallish Pontiac by tarting it up with goofy-looking hood scoops and a hideous rear wing with the GXP body package. Although the 3.6-liter 252-hp V-6 is available in other G6 models, it does offer a few more horsepower in GXP tuning. No matter, as it’s a goner.

Perhaps the unkindest cut of all is that with the demise of the Pontiac brand, the future of the excellent G8 sedan is up in the air. This car, an American-spec version of a model from Australia’s Holden GM division, really is a bargain basement 5-series Beemer. The 6.0-liter L67 V-8 cranks out 361 horsepower and allows the very competent sedan to hit 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds. Not only that, but it has brakes and handling to match the acceleration. Hopefully, GM will simply re-badge it as a Buick and allow the model to continue stateside. That would be a great excuse to resurrect the Wildcat model name from Buick’s past, and besides, this car just has too much goodness to disappear from these shores. But if Obama and his automotive team (not a member of which knows the slightest thing about the car business) are calling the shots, then things don’t look promising.

Also on the outs is the Callilac STS-V with its 469 horsepower supercharged V8. Although the smaller CTS-V offers better performance at a considerable price savings, the demise of this model leaves the large luxury sedan customer who wants gobs of power with no place to go except Germany.

For now at least, the Camaro looks safe, which makes sense as the model was just recently introduced. And if Government Motors(TM) tries to do away with the Corvette, Obama and his fellow socialists may have an armed insurrection on their hands. As America’s only sports car (if you overlook the Dodge Viper, which may not survive Chrysler’s impending takeover by FIAT), it will not be an easy kill for the Obamunists. But they haff veys of getting what they want. “Look,” they will say, “the Tesla roadster has neck-snapping performance, and it’s all-electric.” Will GM be forced into making the legendary Vette a plug-in? Time will tell.

As more interesting models are dropped in favor of fuel efficient little tin cans, car buyers with a passion for driving will motor on past the GM showrooms to their friendly, local Ford dealer. There had better be some interesting cars at the sign of the blue oval, or they will go from there to Honda and Acura dealerships. With the aforementioned 305-hp Focus RS in the pipeline, the Taurus SHO with a 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6 slated to return in 2010, and the Fusion planned to get an EcoBoost four-cylinder displacing 2.0 liters in the next couple of years, Ford is looking to corner the domestic sports sedan market. It can do this. It will be saddled with no team of government overseers like GM will suffer under, and it will not be owned by a UAW-FIAT-Obamunist cabal, as with what will remain of Chrysler.

– JP

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