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Plan to eliminate Pontiac brand has SL dealers, enthusiasts concerned



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SALT LAKE CITY -- General Motors' plan to cut back dealerships and eliminate the Pontiac brand has certainly disappointed people, especially muscle car enthusiasts.

Pontiac inspired a hit series in the ‘80s that continues today. Some would even say it cemented it's place in America as "Knight Rider." There was even a 1964 song named after a Pontiac: "Little GTO."

Come 2010, Pontiac will be gone forever. "It's a sad event. My first car was a 1966 Pontiac GTO," said Mark Miller, owner of Mark Miller Pontiac Buick.

Pontiac owner Jason Taylor said, "Really, they're a part of the American icon, the Pontiac, the GTO. And to know that that's gone, it feels like a piece of American automobile history is going away with it."

Taylor has owned three Pontiacs over the years and planned to buy another next year, but now he isn't so sure. He says he's asking himself, "Is it really worth it? Or should I just go look at another option?"

Sure Pontiac fans and owners are disappointed, but what about the dealers? Miller says it's the uncertainty that's the worst part to deal with.

"Will we get a letter one day that says, ‘Hey, you're no longer here.'? I mean, who knows what's going to happen?" Miller said.

With GM's Pontiac announcement came news that the company will slash 42 percent of their dealerships by 2010. The company has 45 dealerships in Utah, including Mark Miller Pontiac Buick in Salt Lake. Since it'll just be Buick soon, Miller might have to combine with Salt Lake Valley GMC.

However, Craig Bickmore with New Car Dealers of Utah says the 40 percent dealer cutback is too huge a number and will never happen.

Our Pontiac fan hopes for the same thing. "I'm hoping it's not a permanent thing, but right now it looks like it's going to be a long-term transition," Taylor said.

Mark Miller says he should know the future of his dealership by May 11.

E-mail: ngonzales@ksl.com

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Nicole Gonzales

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