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G8 Expectations

The formula for the G8 was everything an enthusiast could ask for, but unfortunate timing and the ultimate demise of the Pontiac brand killed this V8 sedan. Still, that doesn’t mean it isn’t prime for modifications.

2009 Pontiac G8 GT

When Andre Romualdo was looking to buy a performance car as a platform to build upon, he knew the Australian-sourced Pontiac G8 offered an affordable starting point. With an already stout V8 offering 361 horsepower and 386 lb.-ft. of torque from the factory in GT guise, on top of a performance-honed ZETA chassis (shared with the fifth-generation Camaro), the formula was something to salivate over from the beginning. It’s what enthusiasts wanted. “The performance was good and it’s a great platform already,” Romualdo recalls. “[It’s] very easy to modify with lots of exchangeable parts.”

 

His sentiments not only ring true, but they parallel the G8’s stock specifications as a proper performance car — one that can be pushed to the limits and made better with relative ease thanks to an ironclad GM small block. It’s one that also evolved over its predecessors with active fuel management, a six-speed automatic transmission and an affordable MSRP that was a tick under $30K — $32K fully optioned out.

Exterior Exterior Exterior Exterior

Exterior

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The G8’s cult status may have developed over time, but the short-lived dealership run happened quickly and furiously. With only two years of solid importing — an Australian import, remember — and haunted by gas prices and an industry in turmoil that scared off consumers, GM offered incentives north of $5,000 off for G8s, just to get them off the lot.

 

According to the GM archives, between 2007 and 2009, 24,487 V8 model G8s were sold, and 22,663 of those were spec’d GTs, which, in the grand scheme of things, makes them pretty rare. The 2009 GXPs equipped with the LS3 powerhouse — of which only 1,824 made it to customers — are the real collectors’ items. The overall total may sound like a lot, but consider that in 2014, just 37,288 Corvettes were produced.

 

[Ed. note: There were 13,917 V6 G8s produced in the same time frame, but we are omitting them from this article.]

 

While Pontiac did produce the two-door GTO from 2004 to 2006, the Lumina/Cavalier hybrid love child (subjectively, to our eyes) looks like an upside-down boat and was devoid of the muscular exterior befitting a honkin’ V8. Its motor and optional six-speed manual was the saving grace but lacked a lot in the functionality and adornment department. The G8 had much fanfare because it included modern amenities along with a powertrain, to put it bluntly, that kicked ass and got people excited about the overall package. It made Pontiac cool again. The Australians made the sheet metal and America provided a big-ass V8. It was even considered the affordable option as compared to BMW’s M5.

 

With just a few tweaks, it’s easy to get the G8 properly set up as an advanced touring/muscle car. The aluminum block/cylinder head combination in the 6.0-liter L76 is based off the architecture of the LS2, but it included a few ECU tweaks — Active Fuel Management and, what some forum members argue, is an aggressive knock strategy by GM, allowing it to get by with regular unleaded fuel — in order to meet increasing emission legislature and higher gas prices. High-flow L92 cylinder heads, which are essentially of the same design as the ones found on the Z06’s LS7, aid with getting air to the combustion chamber, as well as an intake manifold that is almost identical to an LS3’s.

Performance Performance Performance Performance

Performance

Romualdo built upon the stock setup by adding a Livernois Stage 1C cam, dual titanium valve springs, LS7 lifters, a ported intake manifold, a high-flow intake and Compcam trunion bearings, opening up the known potential that was stored within the stock motor. He also plans on boosting horsepower substantially in the future with a ZL1 supercharger and bigger cams.

 

This is the crux of the G8. With a few modifications, you can build it to such parameters that it will meet daily, track or show specifications within a parts database of almost infinite possibilities — and not just aftermarket but internally, from the GM family, as well. There are literally millions of GM small-block engines (LS2, LS3, LS6), superchargers (ZL1, CTS-V), heads, intakes, manifolds — the list goes on and on — that can be used to plug and play with. With the right adapters, the configurations allow for parts to be used vehicle to vehicle.

 

Consider this: Romualdo has front six-piston and rear four-piston calipers from a Cadillac CTS-V, as well as the two-piece rotors from the Camaro ZL1. If you wanted, the GM parts catalog could provide everything you would ever need. And because GM’s small-blocks are so ubiquitous, getting to 500 or 1,000 horsepower is simply an exercise in narrowing down the multitude of options. The research has been done already; it’s a matter of fitting it into your lifestyle and budget.

 

With short overhangs and the wheels pushed to the corners, the G8 also offers steering that was compared to the 5-Series when introduced to the U.S. market. Though it’s no Corvette, the fact is that the four-wheel independent suspension mated to a limited-slip differential makes for smoky burnouts and grip on par with far more expensive German and Japanese rivals. Hell, when the 2009 GXP was introduced, even Johnny “The D Man” Davis asked, “How do you improve on a car that is so dynamic to begin with?” Speaking of the extremely rare GXP, these cars still command a pretty penny. So if you happen to own one and are thinking about separating, unless times are tough, you may want to hold off. Even GTs in good condition keep decent residual value.

Details Details Details Details

Details

Pontiac may have passed away years ago, but if you scan the numerous forums dedicated to the Pontiac G8, you’ll find a community that is alive and well with daily posts, comments and technical FAQs revolving around modifying these stately sedans. And they’re passionate, too, often exuding a pride about their G8s in the most vocal sense.

 

While the Chevy SS is the spiritual successor to the G8, and to GM’s natural RWD progression years later, next to a G8 it looks a tad sedate, especially when a G8 like Romualdo’s has just the right amount of visual acuity.

 

Fender flares from the factory are accentuated when introduced to a set of proper coilovers such as the ones from BC Racing that Romualdo installed. They not only drop the G8 down for better handling and performance, but they also offer adjustability depending on the situation. He also chose a set of 20-inch K3 Projekt IND-5SGs with flat faces that seem to fit perfect in the clean styling and appearance of this particular G8. It’s a case where the more you stare at the car, the more you appreciate it (and in my case, the more I personally want one spec’d out similarly).

 

In 2009, when the reckoning was coming down on Pontiac and American automobiles in general, GM vice chairman (at the time) Bob Lutz was quoted as saying the G8 was “too good to waste”, and he fought tooth and nail to keep it from fading away. However, no amount of brand loyalty and enthusiast indoctrination could keep it alive.

 

It’s a shame that it didn’t work out for the G8. I personally love the looks, and I know it could easily be made better with the right amount of modifications. Unfortunately, the timing just wasn’t right, and the G8 fell victim to a massively terrible time period for this country that affected not only Pontiac but also countless Americans.

 

There’s a light still shining, though. The brand is gone, there will be no more G8s made, but the pure enthusiasm for the car remains as strong as ever. This is the core of the car scene, and owners are still doing everything they can to keep it just the way it is.

 

2009 Pontiac G8 GT Specs 

Engine

Horsepower: 398.4 Wheel Horsepower

Torque: 374.9 Torque

Livernois Stage 1C cam

Hardened pushrods

Dual titanium valve springs

LS7 lifters and buckets

COMP Cam trunion bearings

Ported intake manifold

Ported/polished throttle body

Roto-Fab Intake

 

Exhaust

Kooks LTH 1-7/8

3-inch Dual Solo Performance unbalanced catback

 

Suspension

BC Racing BR coilovers   

Whiteline bushings   

 

Wheels/Tires

K3Projekt IND-5SG 20x9.5 F and 20x11 R     

Michelin Pilot Super Sport 265/30/20 and 285/30/20

 

Brakes

Brembo 6-piston front and 4-piston rear

Goodridge SS brake lines

 

Other

GXP front bumper

3.45 rear differential

CHenry Motorsports Tune

Carbon Fiber Valve covers

Carbon Fiber Radiator cover

Suede Headliner

 

 

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