Future Classics: Pontiac G8 GXP
The G8 was the last RWD sedan Pontiac ever produced before the brand was shuttered in 2009 as part of General Motors’ restructuring after the company filed for bankruptcy. Like the GTO coupe before it, the G8 was based on a car from GM’s Holden division in Australia, and it replaced the ancient Grand Prix. The G8 was a modified version of Holden’s Commodore sedan and the engine powered the rear wheels, making it the first Pontiac sedan to have such a configuration since the 1986 Parissienne and Bonneville. The base G8 was powered by a relatively competitive V6 that produced 256hp while the upscale GT model featured a V8 that made 361. The V6 was mated to a five-speed automatic only, while the V8 was given a six-speed unit. The interior was standard General Motors fare, which meant comfort and design took a back seat to cost-cutting. The car was benchmarked against the Mercedes E-class, Audi A6, and BMW 5 Series, and hoped to replicate a similar driving experience at a much lower price (5 bucks shy of $30k, to be exact). While the V8 was a strong, detuned version of the one in the pre-refreshed Corvette C6, Pontiac, being GM’s performance division, knew that there was no such thing as too much power.
One year after being introduced, the new LS3 from the 2008 Corvette was shoehorned into the G8’s engine bay, transforming the Pontiac into a proper sports sedan: the GXP. A six-speed manual was offered for the first time, with the six-speed auto an available option. With 415hp on tap, the V8 produced 15 less than in its Corvette application, but it was good enough to rocket the more practical 4-door from 0 to 60 in 4.6 seconds.
Very little exterior cues differentiate the GXP from the more sedate GT, so not only will it haul kids like a family sedan, but it also doesn’t embarrass the driver with flamboyant wheel arches (like those found on a Mercedes AMG) or ridiculous rear wing (like on most previous hi-po Pontiacs). The front end has a front diffuser, two hood scoops, and two inlets that make the standard Pontiac grille, but the execution is very much restrained. Chrome faux vents behind the front wheels are unfortunate but have been a typical design element in many cars over the last few years. A lowered rear diffuser is one of the only ways to distinguish the GXP from the less expensive GT.
The interior is more or less the same as the standard G8, although more firmly bolstered leather bucket seats are fitted to handle more aggressive driving. That means some hard plastics remain, always reminding owners that this was never meant to run with the Germans on luxury appointments, only performance. And at $40k, it is obvious that the money is saved from the interior. But how much does one really need to spend on a leather covered dashboard and switchgear? A comparable BMW 550i from around the same time period was down 55hp and cost at least $20,000 more.
So why does the Pontiac G8 GXP make the cut for the inaugural edition of the Future Classics segment? For one, scarcity. The G8 was only produced for two years, and the GXP model was only available for the 2009 model year. Final production numbers are difficult to source accurately, but 1,828-29 GXPs are said to have been created. The G8 was also extremely competitive not only on price but also with performance relative to the models benchmarked by GM during the G8’s short life span. It is also one of the last models ever sold by the storied Pontiac brand, a company long tied to muscle cars since the introduction of the GTO in the 1960s. It is a relatively rare piece of automotive history, with a lot of power on tap, and with a manual transmission, it hits all the major checkmarks required for cars that are considered classics today. GXPs for sale are difficult to find, but expect to pay $25-30k when one does show up.