Downsized for 1977, the Pontiac Catalina was Pontiac's entry-level full size automobile and competed directly with similarly priced and equipped models from Buick, Chevrolet and Oldsmobile.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that in many cities across America, several radio stations are owned by the same company. In any given market there are probably three if not four but rarely more than that owning and dominating any city for radio listening and advertising dollars. While there is no limit on the amount of AM and FM signals any one company can own in general and in any city in particular, what is restricted is the amount of potential advertising dollars any one company can control in the market. Lest a radio company, or group, become a monopoly. Back in the 1970's, General Motors was so large that many considered it a monopoly; GM was not a monopoly in the 1970's - it was just a very successful manufacturer of transportation devices the core of which were automobiles.
This car shares much structurally with the Chevrolet Impala, Buick LeSabre and Oldsmobile 88 and offers little more than styling to be differentiated from it.
However, if any group of radio stations today, these massive groups, incidentally, are a fairly recent phenomenon, ran their operations like General Motors did in the 1970's, safe to say that they would not have any stations that were truly and consistently competitive.
Identical exterior as well as interior dimensions with again only styling differences to be differential. Styling differences that were ultimately expensive to produce since there were so many unique bits and pieces to design, engineer and manufacture.
Let's take for example a market of approximately three million people and said operator has four radio stations in the group. A best practice is for that cluster to have four radio stations that don't compete against each other. Or, if there's any chance that there is any competition, the stations are different enough from each other than they still stand apart as brands. Otherwise, that group is competing against themselves and with other choices for listening from other groups, more than likely the amount of listening for either of those stations is greatly diminished. This ain't rocket science, Marconi. Therefore it's baffling as to how General Motors for fifty of sixty years after World War II, had brands that competed fiercely with each other. Brands so similar in fact that many people would not be able to tell a Pontiac from a Buick let alone tell you that there's any difference between them.
An oddity of GM of yore, all divisions manufactured their own engines rather than have a central engine division making engines for the entire company. This 301 cubic inch V-8 was manufactured by Pontiac and while GM divisions did begin using engines produced by other GM divisions in the late 1970's, Pontiac had to absorb the manufacturing expense of a unique engine that shared nothing with similar sized engines from other divisions.
The General Motors of today is doing as well as it's doing for several reasons the least of which is an economy that appears to be at least cautiously robust. It all boils down to product and while it's debatable that Cadillac can really make a go of this selling automobiles that while excellent, are supremely overpriced thus missing the mark on making their wares great values, like Lexus and Infiniti did when they first launched, GM's products today are the equal of anything in the world today. GM's success today also boils down to lanes; their three remaining automobile divisions all have distinct lanes that each of the divisions is able to exist in with minimal concern that one division, or brand, is aping the other.
Most of GM's 1977 downsized full sized cars are lauded for their packaging and design. You could take exception to this Pontiac dash cluster that has a clock front and center on the driver's side of the dash while the most important gauge, the speedometer, is far left of the steering column.
After all, if even if the Cadillac XTS, Buick Lacrosse and Chevrolet Impala share much DNA and keen eyes can spot similar architecture in their styling, an Impala buyer is more than likely not going to be cross shopping an Impala with either the Buick or Cadillac.
A vestige of the 1970's, fuel fillers behind the rear license plate. When engineers began moving gas tanks in automobiles up closer to the passenger compartment to make them safer upon rear impact, the filler pipe moved back to the side of the car.
That wasn't the case even up to just before GM's reorganization; GM had too many brands hawking way too similar products targeted at the same customers. While GM did have unique brands like Saab and Hummer, those brands were far too niche to be profitable. Especially in the economy of the late 2000's. Pontiac, incidentally, went into the brand dumpster with Saab, Saturn and Hummer as part of the reorganization.
"Catalina" was a once storied nameplate at Pontiac. Pontiac, which closed when GM reorganized in 2009, hadn't put the model nameplate on a car since 1981.
And while I'm still of the opinion that GM needs to ditch Buick, it's wonderful to see GM flourish to the extent that it is today. As recently as ten years ago, did we even think today's GM was possible?