During the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, people prided themselves on having automobiles that were more than big enough to fit the entire family. They wanted something that made a statement. The bigger the car, the bigger the statement they can make. One of the cars that definitely fit the bill was the Pontiac Ventura. It was a car that was highly sought-after during its time. From the time it first emerged in the 60s until 1979, when the last Ventura was phased out, it went through a lot of changes regarding body style and trim options. While there were obviously some models that were more popular than others, it remained one of Pontiacs most popular cars until it was phased out. That begs the question, why was it phased out in the first place? If it was so popular at the time, what prompted Pontiac to make the decision to get rid of it?
The Heyday of the Large Automobiles
As previously mentioned, the 1970s are often considered to be the heyday of large automobiles. Despite the fact that there was an energy crisis going on throughout part of that decade, people still drove exceptionally large cars. Compared to today's standards, the cars were often twice as big and some were slightly bigger still. It might be hard to believe now, but it was a common practice at the time. In fact, it was difficult to find a compact car at the time. There were a few of them around, to be sure. However, they were few and far between. Furthermore, the options that were available for smaller cars weren't known to be entirely reliable. Therefore, people had a habit of staying with the larger cars, even though they didn't get great gas mileage to begin with.
The Pontiac Ventura
Pontiac was one of the leading car companies during the 1970s. They produced a number of models that were extremely popular with the public, but none of them were quite like the Ventura. The car was attractive and it came with a number of trim options. It also had a large number of powertrain options. It wasn't going to win any races without a few modifications, but it was definitely able to get from point A to point B without wasting any time. Furthermore, it was large enough to seat the entire family comfortably with room left over. It was definitely something that would attract the attention of passersby. When there was a new Pontiac Ventura sitting in the driveway, the neighbors wanted to come and take a closer look. That was one of the reasons that people wanted to buy it in the first place. While it would be remiss to say that it was considered a status symbol, it definitely had a presence about it, one that attracted the attention of a lot of buyers.
What Caused It to Be Phased Out?
Despite its overwhelming popularity, Pontiac was beginning to notice that things were changing on the horizon. For starters, the energy crisis that occurred during the 1970s left a lot of people struggling financially. It also changed a lot of laws with regards to our mobile emissions and the like. As a result, it became necessary for car companies to make smaller cars that got better mileage. It was all about reducing the size and weight of the car, saving gas and in turn, saving money. During the 1980s, cars were roughly half the size as they had been only a decade earlier. This was something that Pontiac could see coming. It essentially spelled the end of the Ventura, despite the fact that it was still popular at the time it was discontinued. In addition, Pontiac decided that they needed to up their game if they were going to make sweeping changes. As a result, they changed the Ventura to the Phoenix in 1979 and made it much more luxurious as far as the interior was concerned. Just a few short years later, the cars would be dramatically different in appearance, more about economy than anything else.
It Was All About Changing Times
It might be easy to assume that Pontiac could have simply redesigned the Ventura and allowed the production line to continue. Many people have assumed this, especially given the fact that the Venture was so popular during his prime. However, it isn't easy to make those types of changes to an automobile's design and maintain that same sense of popularity. Once a complete redesign is made, especially one that cuts the size of the car in half, people have a tendency to go on to something else they like better. The end result was that Pontiac made a financial decision of their own. They decided to simply end production of the car and focus on other, more economical designs as opposed to trying to continue with the production of the Ventura.
Is there a chance that the Venture could have successfully continued on had it been given the chance? Of course, there is always a chance. That said, it is highly unlikely that the car would have continued to be as successful as it had been in the past. Pontiac had tested the waters briefly a few years prior by putting a redesigned Ventura with a shorter body on the production line. It was not a popular result, to say the least. That is precisely why they went back to something that much more closely resembled the original design. Therefore, executives at the company felt they had no other choice but to simply discontinue the product line altogether. At the end of the day, it was in fact a business decision that was designed with the need in mind to sell as many cars as possible. Despite its popularity and the fact that it had become something of an institution in its own right, business professionals within the company felt that it was simply too great a risk to try to continue with that particular model given the circumstances during the 1980s.
Written by Benjamin Smith
Read more posts by Benjamin Smith