Not too long ago, GM decided to stop production of the Oldsmobile line. Now, they are discontinuing Pontiac as well. This is sad to me. Classic Americana fading into history like an old photograph. I never thought I'd live so long.
It's not like I was unaware of such things. When I was most into cars, during my teens (16yo in 1976), I knew about brands that were real high flyers at one time that no longer existed, like DeSoto, Studebaker, Packard, and Willys, to name a few. But in those days, American autmomakers appeared strong, if knocked for loop by the energy crisis of the time. But the writing was on the wall. Anyone who is about my age would probably agree that new cars in the 70's were cheap, ugly crap. That's why we car buffs looked to the past for quality. It's probably also the first step in the sharp decline of the American market. Small efficient foreign cars took over, and American manufacturers struggled to produce poor imitations of those. Later, during the mass-consumption-consumerist-culture-me-me-me-gimme-gimme-gimme-more-more-more culture ushered in by Reagan & the Yuppies, big American junk became popular again, and the US automakers returned to producing the wrong product for the wrong reasons. In the meantime, I became a VW enthusiast in the mid- to late-eighties.
Now they pay the piper in so many ways. Oldsmobile and Pontiac, producers of such memorable machines as the Olds Rocket 88 & 442, and the historic Pontiac GTO, have gone to join the Studebaker Hawk and its brethren in automotive Valhalla. In the wake of peak oil, we look to hybrids and alternative fueled vehicles to carry us into the future. I just wish I wasn't so damn sentimental.
Update: I should add this: I had a great aunt who died in 1998 or so. As far as I know, she never lost her mental faculties. She was born around 1900 and was a nurse during WWI. Imagine witnessing almost the entire 20th century pass, and being aware the whole time! Incidentally - she chain smoked right up to the end. Go figure. Also: I inherited her favorite rocking chair, which she inherited from her father.