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For 50 years, the Pontiac division of General Motors has emphasized performance, but its history goes back twice that far. Edward Murphy founded the Oakland Motor Car Company in Pontiac, Michigan in 1907. In 1909, Oakland became a division of the General Motors Corporation. In 1926, Oakland introduced the affordable Pontiac 'Chief of Sixes,' which outsold other models in the line. In 1932, GM created the Pontiac division and dropped the Oakland brand. For 20 years, Pontiacs filled a niche between Chevrolet and Oldsmobile in the GM lineup, but, during the 1950s and 1960s the brand featured sporty models that offered higher performance. The Bonneville, introduced in 1957, started as a large, high-performance convertible. In 1964, Pontiac started the 'muscle car' trend with the GTO. This potent intermediate-size car took its name from the Ferrari GTO, but the Pontiac version was a quintessentially American recipe for performance: a big V8 driving the rear wheels of a relatively small and affordable car. The GTO was a huge hit until the oil crisis of 1973. In 2004, Pontiac reintroduced the GTO as a modern, sophisticated interpretation of the 1960s muscle car, based on GM Australia's Holden Monaro. The latest Pontiac to emphasize handling and performance is the Solstice sports roadster, which was introduced in 2005. GM shuttered the venerable Pontiac division in 2010.

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