How Did Pontiac Get Its Name?

by Sherry Lipp
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Image by, courtesy of Jamie

The General Motors Pontiac brand has a long history. The line, which began early in the 20th century, took its name from an important historical figure. The end of the road is near for Pontiac. GM announced in April 2009 that it plans to discontinue the brand by the end of 2010.


The name Pontiac was first used in 1893 by the Pontiac Buggy Co. The company later became the Pontiac Spring & Wagon Works Co. In 1906, Oakland Motor Car Co. merged with Pontiac Spring & Wagon Works. General Motors acquired both brands in 1909. The first GM Pontiac automobile was marketed in 1926.


The Pontiac Buggy Co. originated in Pontiac, Michigan, and took its name from the location. The name originated from Chief Pontiac, who has great importance in U.S. history.


Chief Pontiac led his Ottawa tribe in uprisings against the British during the French and Indian War. Though the battles were not successful, Chief Pontiac became legendary for his bravery and diplomacy.

Fun Fact

The first Pontiac released by GM in 1926 set an automobile industry record by selling 76,000 cars in its first year. It was priced under $900.

Famous Ties

The Pontiac was featured on the "I Love Lucy" show in 1955. The family drove a 1955 Pontiac Star Chief convertible to California.

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