Future Classic: 2007 Pontiac G6 GT Convertible – More Than Meets The Eye?

2007 Pontiac G6 GT convertible. Downtown Omaha, Nebraska. Monday, October 3, 2022.

When I was in elementary school, the original Transformers cartoon series that originally began airing in the fall of ’84 was must-watch television.  It helped that my brothers and I all agreed on it, so there was usually no argument about what to watch in that timeslot as there might have been with Looney Tunes reruns (my other pick), The SmurfsHe-Man / She-Ra, or any of the other children’s programming that ran on the major networks starting in the afternoon.  I can remember precious little about the original Transformers cartoons now, and I just never got on board with any of the reboots over the years, but I just remember both the Transformers shows and toys as seeming so high-tech in that glorious, ’80s-overkill kind of way.  I can still hear the intro music sung through a vocoder: “Transformers… more than meets the eye!”  Solid.

The Dennis household didn’t have any Transformers (or similar Go-Bots) under our roof, but my cousin Nate did, and I was transfixed as I watched him convert them back and forth between robots, vehicles, airplanes, and the like.  It became almost like a game of dexterity, to see how quickly and efficiently one could execute and reverse the process.  I have wondered if my one-time fascination with the Transformers franchise of the ’80s is at least partially responsible for my interest in retractable hardtops.

I say “interest” not so much in terms of wanting to own one myself (though I wouldn’t be opposed to it), but rather just curiosity about their workings and engineering.  According to MotorWeek, it was Karmann of Germany that had engineered the retractable hardtop mechanism on the G6 GT convertible.  (All ’07 convertibles were in the GT trim level.)  All of that extra gimcrackery added over four hundred pounds over the weight of the GT coupe, with the convertible starting at almost 3,900 pounds.  This example is powered by the 3.5 liter V6 engine with 217 horsepower driving the front wheels through a four-speed automatic.  There was also an optional V6 displacing 3.9 liters that added 10 horsepower, and that version was able to do the 0-60 sprint in the mid-eight second range, citing that same Motorweek test.  These cars weren’t fast, but they were fast enough for the comfortable cruising they were envisioned for.

2007 Pontiac G6 GT convertible. Downtown Omaha, Nebraska. Monday, October 3, 2022.

Whereas Motorweek seemed to gush with praise for the drop-top G6, Consumer Reports gave it middling marks, with the reviewer at the latter publication seeming unimpressed with its cheap-feeling interior materials, subpar fit and finish, acceleration, handling, accessibility to the rear seats (hampered by the front seat belt assembly), and a few other things.  Both magazines indicated combined city/highway fuel economy of about 20 miles per gallon, which seems lower than I would have expected for a modern convertible with a V6 (and not a V8).  I find nothing wrong with the G6’s styling, largely the work of Nigeria-born designer Jelani Aliyu.  As the son of a west African immigrant myself, and also once a kid whose first career ambition was to design cars, I surely would have looked up to Aliyu for inspiration.  My late, Liberian father often made me feel like there was nothing I couldn’t do if I consistently applied myself.  I didn’t always believe, but with a clear mind, focus, and priorities, I aim high today.

Hollywood Candy at Fairmont Antiques & Mercantile. Old Market District, Omaha, Nebraska. Monday, October 3, 2022.

It had been almost three years since I had last been to beautiful Omaha, Nebraska before my return a few weeks ago, when I spotted our featured Pontiac.  As I’ve written about before, I’ve learned to make business travel genuinely fun and something I truly look forward to, taking my camera along with me and going on little adventures after working hours are over for the day.  I fell hard for Omaha during my first overnight stay about a decade ago, becoming smitten with its friendly people, clean and pretty downtown area, displays of public art, a proliferation of visually stunning and historic buildings, unique shops for every taste, walkability, photo ops, and shockingly great diversity that I just wasn’t expecting.  There was definitely “more than meets the eye” when it came to my first visit to the city nicknamed the “Gateway To The West”.

Hotel Deco XV. Old Market District, Omaha, Nebraska. Monday, October 3, 2022.

That’s not to say I think that Omaha is the “Pontiac G6 GT convertible” of United States midwestern cities.  When writing this essay, I felt cautious about drawing parallels between Omaha and the G6 convertible, as I was legitimately concerned with offending fans of either the car or the city.  With the G6 convertible, I remember wanting so badly for it to be a slam dunk in all of its key metrics, being the perpetual GM cheerleader I’ll probably always be, having grown up in the factory town of Flint, Michigan.  I look at the G6, and I see a pleasing shape, innovation… and also, sadly, some unfulfilled potential.

2009 Pontiac G6 GT convertible.  Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.  Saturday, October 1, 2022.

2009 Pontiac G6 GT convertible.  Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.  Saturday, October 1, 2022.

The cost-cutting was undoubtedly in the interest of keeping the starting price of the convertible within reach of more buyers.  The ’07 GT convertible base-stickered at around $30,000 (only about $500 more than the smaller Volkswagen Eos), which is about $43,000 today, fifteen years later.  I don’t necessarily see this approach as a uniformly bad thing, if it meant more top-down Pontiac driving fun for more people.  A major downside of this lower-quality strategy was erosion of any perception of the G6 hardtop convertible as being a first-choice, premium car.  Total G6 sales would peak at 156,000 units in ’06, the same year the convertible was introduced.  Just over 150,000 G6s would find buyers in ’07.  I couldn’t find a breakout of ’07 convertible production, but only about 677,000 G6s were produced over its six and a half year run before the plug was pulled on Pontiac in mid-2010.

2007 Pontiac G6 GT convertible. Downtown Omaha, Nebraska. Monday, October 3, 2022.

When I see a car like a G6 convertible in the year 2022, I wonder if I would be brave enough to risk operating the fully automated, 30-second roof mechanism on a warm day, lest something go awry.  What would I do if this was my only car, I had no secure garage and relied on street-parking, and the roof got stuck somewhere in the halfway open position?  I might instead opt to treat my G6 like a pillarless hardtop and just roll all the windows down.  Regardless, it was truly a joy to spend time back in clean, pretty Omaha and also to have the opportunity to snap a few photos of a car that has long intrigued me.  Unlike the Transformers franchise, a reboot of the Pontiac brand is unlikely.  But like those ’80s toys that were used, discarded, and now bring considerable fun and bucks in good condition to nostalgic people in my age group, I hope at least a few great examples of these cool G6 convertibles are preserved for the future.

Downtown Omaha, Nebraska.
Monday, October 3, 2022.