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Modern-Day Classic: 2008-2009 Pontiac G8 GT and GXP

The 2008-2009 Pontiac G8 GT and GXP was the brand’s first muscle car sedan in over 20 years. The G8 GXP was also the most powerful muscle car Pontiac ever built, and it couldn’t have come along at a better time. Pontiac definitely needed a shot of adrenaline in its lineup. With the demise of the Firebird and the GTO, the G8 filled the void quite nicely with its aggressive styling and track-ready performance.

Just like the last GTO, the G8 was sourced from its Holden cousin from Down Under. The G8 is based on the Zeta platform on which the Holden VE Commodore is built. The exterior is slightly reworked with the signature Pontiac split grille, and interior changes include moving the steering column to the left side.

Delivering the Goods

The GT certainly looks the part of a muscle car with its twin hood scoops, vented front fenders and honeycomb grille. Projector-beam headlamps give the driver an eagle’s-eye view of the road at night. Five-spoke aluminum wheels add to the GT’s aggressive look, and the car’s wheels-at-the-corner design complements the forceful guise it projects. Out back are quad polished stainless steel exhaust tips and clear taillights.

Under the hood lurks a 6.0-liter V8 that produces 361 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque. This powerplant is mated to a 6-speed Hydra-Matic 6L80E automatic transmission. For added excitement, this transmission features Driver Shift Control. This feature allows the transmission to hold a gear longer and shift down faster when more power is needed. Sport mode alters the automatic shift modes to maintain higher torque and greater engine control. For even more control of the driving experience, there is also a manual shift gate, which gives the driver complete control. It works by not allowing the transmission to automatically upshift on its own, but it also won’t allow the engine to exceed redline. With this combination, Motor Trend was able to squeeze out a 0-to-60 time of 5.3 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 13.8 seconds at 104 miles per hour.

Beauty Meets Beast

The 2009 GXP is the most powerful Pontiac ever. It has road manners and sophistication mixed with a little swagger and attitude to go along with it. Why all this conceit? Well, if you’re the most powerful car ever to wear the Pontiac crest, you’d be a little arrogant, too. Yes, the GXP touts more power than the Pontiac greats of yesteryear such as the 1970 GTO Ram Air IV and the 2002 Trans Am WS6.

The GXP’s heart beats with a 6.2-liter LS3 V8 sourced from the Chevrolet Corvette. With 415 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque, it’s easy to see why this performance sedan clocks in with impressive numbers. In their February 2009 issue, Motor Trend was able to flog the GXP with a 0-to-60 time of 4.5 seconds, and achieve a quarter-mile time of 13 seconds when running 109.6 mph. That’s quite impressive for a sedan weighing approximately 4,000 pounds.

The GXP has kept its value over the years. Prices on the used-car market for clean, low-mileage examples range from $30,000 to $40,000.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Due to a sagging economy and the increasing threat of bankruptcy, General Motors did the unthinkable and mothballed Pontiac. On April 27, 2009, General Motors announced it was purging Pontiac and that the brand would be eliminated by the end of 2010. The Pontiac G8 would be its last muscle car. The brand that essentially gave birth to the muscle car and spawned great nameplates such as the GTO, Firebird and Grand Prix would be relegated to the history books. It truly was a sad day for those loyal to the brand. The shining star in this quagmire was that Pontiac left a legacy that few auto manufacturers will ever achieve.

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