2010 Pontiac G8 Sport Truck: The Modern El Camino We Almost Got
In the past we've covered how 2019 has marked the 10th anniversary of GM’s decision to close down its storied Pontiac brand in the wake of the late 2000s economic recession and we still feel sad about that from time to time. For decades Pontiac was one of the most exciting and most performance-oriented brands in GM’s lineup and it just so happens that one of the coolest Pontiacs ever to be sold in the US fell just months short of becoming a reality.
In 2008 Pontiac followed up its Australian-built GTO with a new rear-drive sport sedan called the G8. Like the GTO before it, the G8 was actually a Holden product, this one a Commodore that was built down under before being rebadged as a Pontiac and imported to the United States.
During its short sales run, the G8 became an enthusiast favorite with its pair of V8 engine options, spacious interior and great driving dynamics—but the most interesting version of the G8 ended narrowly missing production when GM decided to axe the Pontiac brand.
If you somehow weren't familiar with the Australian auto industry, a car-based pickup truck known as a "ute" was an extremely popular segment of vehicle in the country. It was basically their version of our Chevy El Camino or Ford Ranchero but utes continued to be built for decades after the Ranchero and El Camino ceased to exist in America.
In fact, the Holden Ute was based on the same Commodore that became the Pontiac G8 in America, and for a long time—even before GM decided to import the Monaro and Commodore to the US—American enthusiasts dreamed of a modern Holden Ute being imported here as a reborn El Camino.
Then it happened. In the spring of 2008 at the New York Auto Show Pontiac showed not a concept, but a full-fledged production prototype it called the G8 Sport Truck. It was exactly what many were hoping for—a rebadged version of the Holden Ute with the same 362hp V8 from the G8 GT sedan.
Sales for the G8 Sport Truck were to begin in the fall of 2009, but in between the prototype and production, the economy went into a major tailspin, GM faced bankruptcy and the tough decision was made to cut the Pontiac brand from its lineup.
Needless to say, a production version of the Pontiac G8 Sport Truck never happened and the unique high performance, car-based pickup could be considered the biggest loss that came with the closing of Pontiac.
Even with the loss of Pontiac, dreams of a ute in America didn't end. Five years later when GM decided to import the Holden Commodore once more (this time as the 2014-2017 Chevrolet SS), we once again schemed about a a new El Camino joining Chevy's lineup, but it wasn't to be. In fact, all hope of an Australian-built ute making its way to America likely ended when production of the Holden Commodore itself was brought to an end in 2017.
With the ever increasing popularity of pickup trucks in the US, it's impossible to rule out eventual return of the El Camino in some form but for now it doesn't seem likely. As often happens, all we can do for now is look back and think about what might have been.
The G8 wasn't the first Aussie machine to come here as a high performance Pontiac, head over here for our look back at the wonderful 2004-2006 Pontiac GTO.