Men Who Made Cars: Pontiac Founder Edward M. Murphy

pontiac GTO

Edward M. Murphy founded the Pontiac Buggy Company in Pontiac, Michigan in 1893. His business, based in Oakland County, built carriages drawn by horses until he created the Oakland Motor Car Company in 1907. Pontiac—the name refers to an Indian chief who lived from 1720–1769, would later become known for high-performance V8 engine cars.

Half of Murphy’s new company was bought by the then-privately owned General Motors (GM) for a stock exchange in 1909 and Murphy, who had the foresight to switch from horse-drawn vehicles to cars, died shortly thereafter.

The first Pontiac-branded car was introduced when GM, pricing the Pontiac between its Chevrolet and Oldsmobile brands, unveiled the Pontiac Series 6-27 at the 1926 New York Auto Show for $ 825. According to the Detroit News, GM sold over 70,000 Pontiac cars in the first year—and GM sold more than 35 million Pontiac vehicles during the company’s history.

GM announced the end of the Pontiac brand after the government nationalized the automaker earlier this year.

Pontiacs are well known throughout car culture. The Firebird Trans Am, the GTO (for Gran Turismo Omologato or, in English, Grand Touring Homologated), and the Pontiac Bonneville (1957-2005), a name which first appeared in 1954 on a pair of GM concept cars, are among the now-defunct company’s most treasured cars.

[Source: Detroit News]

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