Three Pontiacs to buy, sell, or hold

Sadly, Pontiac is no longer with us. A victim of the late-2000s financial chaos at GM, Pontiac didn’t survive into this decade. Cars wearing the Pontiac badge are becoming an increasingly rare sight on our roads. Pontiacs may be gone, but it certainly is not forgotten; the marque built some of the most memorable American muscle and pony cars.

Pontiac spanned several decades and spawned dozens of models, so it’s logical that different cars are performing differently in the market. Some appear to be on the way up and would make for a prudent buy, others appear to be fully priced and ready to sell, and some seem to be holding steady for now. Here are three to buy, sell, and hold:

Vehicle
BUY: 2004–06 Pontiac GTO 61
fourth-generation Pontiac GTO
Brett Lirones thought about the fourth-generation Pontiac GTO for nine years before he bought one for himself. (Matt Lewis)

Even though it was actually just a rebadged Australian-market Holden Monaro, the fourth-generation Pontiac GTO was the last hurrah for one of the biggest names in American muscle cars. After the Firebird was discontinued for 2003, the 2004–06 GTO became the final standard bearer for Pontiac performance. (The entire brand was defunct by 2010.) Powered by the LS1 or LS2 V-8, the GTO was like a four-seat Corvette but with understated—read: bland—styling, making it quite the sleeper. Sleepers, however, do not always sell.

The fourth-gen GTO was never a great seller, but interest in these cars has begun to rise as values appear to have bottomed out. Buyer attention has moderately but consistently increased over the past three years, and they are particularly popular among younger buyers, with two-thirds of interest coming from either Gen Xers or Millennials. We have started seeing GTOs at collector car auctions as well, which is another sign that they are moving away from used car status. The number of examples offered at collector car auctions this year increased by 35 percent compared to 2016. As for Hagerty Price Guide values, GTOs are still cheaper on average than the similar C5 Corvette, but their values are rising faster than Vette prices. So while the GTO is a high-performance bargain now, it’s poised to keep getting more expensive.

Sell: 1970–81 Pontiac Firebird 35
1973 Pontiac Trans Am SD455
1973 Pontiac Trans Am SD455
Barrett-Jackson

Bandit-era Trans Ams appear to have had their time in the spotlight, as second-generation Firebirds, on the whole, are now sitting steady after a few years of major growth and big auction results. The average Hagerty Price Guide values for second-gen Firebirds are up only one percent over the past 12 months, which is less than any other generation of Firebird. Meanwhile, the number offered and sold at auction is down 35 percent year-over-year, and the average sale price at auction is down 14 percent over the same period. Buyer interest has also fallen over the last 12 months, and while the drop was small, it was nevertheless the first drop in interest for these cars in the last five years. At least in the near term, they appear to be about as valuable as they’re going to get.

Hold: 1993–2002 Pontiac Firebird 74
1994 Pontiac Trans Am 25th Anniversary (Mecum)
1994 Pontiac Trans Am 25th Anniversary (Mecum)

The fourth-gen Firebird spanned several significant changes and includes quite a few special models, so there is no universal truth when it comes to their market value. On the plus side, average Hagerty Price Guide values are up 10 percent over the last 12 months for fourth-gen Firebirds, and buyer interest is up 25 percent. On the other hand, the number of examples offered and sold at auction fell 36 percent year-over-year, while the average sale price fell four percent over the same period. Special models like the SLP Firehawk are already well on their way to becoming relatively high-dollar collectibles, but for the rest of the range it might be worth waiting for a clearer picture of the market before making the decision to buy or sell.