Pontiac G8 GXP – The ‘dream car’ experience

Pontiac G8 GXP – The ‘dream car’ experience

Story and photos by Brian Wormald

First up, I have always been a car guy – with GM ‘red’ flowing through my veins. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of cars from other marques that I would happily secret away in my garage because of their iconic status. But when it comes to driving one of these mechanical masterpieces, nothing but a GM product will do.

And after a car-guy ‘drought’ of some years, late in 2017 I finally acquired my ‘forever’ car in Canada. Put simply, it’s a 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP – a very special and rare car. But before we get too far into that, I need to frame the background of why and how it came to be my ‘forever car.’

I relocated to Vancouver from Australia in 2006 when I was 49. I have always been a one-eyed Holden (GM’s Australian subsidiary) fan since knee-high to a grasshopper and owned a number of them whilst living there, starting with a 1966 Holden. From being a simple car-guy, my muscle-car addiction was fueled early on by ‘hotting up’ my cars. The last car I had before migrating to Canada was a 1970 HG Holden GTS Monaro 350 with 350 small-block, 4-speed Saginaw box and 10-bolt diff (think Chevelle).

I knew the Holden Monaro coupe deal had been done with Pontiac just after the turn of the century, so after arriving here in Vancouver I was looking at a ‘new generation’ GTO. This was simply a Pontiac-badged Holden, made in Australia and exported to North America. Sadly, they were not sold north of the U.S. border. With the additional costs associated with importing, it was simply not going to happen for me at that time. I also knew the Holden Commodore (four-door) deal was going to be done soon after, so eagerly awaited the G8. This was similarly a Holden family sedan badged as a Pontiac and exported to North America.

Although they WERE sold in Canada, I was still not in a position to get one in 2008/9 – BUT I was determined that I would have it one day. And although GM killed Pontiac as a brand soon after, my dream was not diminished. Fast-forward to 2016 when I started looking in earnest for a G8 and it wasn’t the base V6 model I wanted – it was the top-of-the-line GXP. I was not going to settle for anything less. This was going to be my new ‘forever’ car – not the daily driver, so it had to be special. What made it all the more challenging, was that there were not many of these made in its ONLY one model year.

After looking at some, in September 2017 I found one in Ohio, advertised as a 6-speed.

Upon further scrutiny, it turned out to be an AUTO six-speed – and the need for a third pedal was not negotiable for me.  Another one came up in October, this time in the Madison area of Wisconsin. After seeing photos of the car in the advertisement, it looked like I might have finally found what I was looking for. After a few phone calls with the owner and comparing calendars, I flew to see the car, stayed almost a week, spent time with the owner, his wife and 2 pre-school daughters – and then bought the car on the spot. It was much more than a car-buying transaction; rather, it was an exchange of a very personal possession – handed from one enthusiast to another. I dined with the family, the owner and I spent around 5 hours on the road together – in short, we bonded. It just felt right to both of us.

The car was exactly how the picture in my head looked, it gave me the touch of home’ feeling I had been looking for, and the owner was very happy it was going to a good home. The deal was done! I had already organized the U.S.$ cheque before I traveled, I was that confident the car was what I wanted. So, before I left Wisconsin, I arranged for the car to be shipped to B.C., along with engaging an Import Broker. And that is a whole other story…

The GXP is not a daily driver in winter – I have a ‘91 Buick Century ‘beater’ for that.  During summer, it will be used more often, including entering a number of car shows. And, as this is a rare car (only 1829 made in the whole of North America), I have no plans to modify it beyond what has been currently done.

As for driving it, the performance is more than acceptable. With the LS3 basically providing a Corvette driveline, it is probably one of the best value late model cars in North America. Handling is close to perfect with its sport suspension and low-profile tires. The seating is very comfortable in both front and back, with long distance driving a breeze. Adding to the attraction of each drive is the sound of the excellent after-market exhaust. There is no need for the radio or music CD’s – just wind down the window and listen to the melodic, even orchestral sounds of a V8 in full song. Nothing beats it!

If you check the Web for reviews on the car, you will see that it received nothing but glowing reports from motoring journalists when released in 2009. The shame was that it never reached its full potential; it might have saved Pontiac after years of trying to salvage its own ‘sports oriented’ brand image with bland, sub-performing and wallowing slush-mobiles. GM found the perfect rear-wheel drive platform in its Australian subsidiary on which to regain the performance market but (bad) timing is everything and the GFC took that opportunity away.

Oh well, perhaps from a selfish point of view, it’s not so bad after all. I now have a car that will increase in value over time – in both pure driving pleasure AND monetary value.

So now for some car details:

  • 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP – LS3 6.2 litre V8, 6 speed manual transmission, sunroof
  • Manufactured – 12/8/2008
  • Numbered vehicle – #1285 of 1829
  • Liquid Red in colour with Onyx leather interior
  • #55 of only 77 made with this trim level combination (Liquid Red / Onyx / 6 speed manual trans)

The only modifications from stock are limited to:

  • Solo unbalanced cat-back high-efficiency exhaust
  • VG ‘Sharkfin’ antenna
  • Window tinting (35%)
  • CAGS shift-bypass
  • TRS / Morimoto HID headlights
  • K&N air filter
  • Xpel paint protection on front of car
Categories: Features, Muscle Car Plus