The Pontiac G8 ST Was the Modern Ute America Deserved

By 5 Min Read

Name: Pontiac G8 ST
Debut: 2008 New York Auto Show
Engine: 6.0-Liter V-8
Drive Type: Rear-Wheel Drive

This is Concept We Forgot, Motor1’s deep dive into weird and wonderful concept cars you may not remember.

When Bob Lutz returned as Vice Chairman of Product Development at General Motors in 2001, he had big plans for Pontiac, including a product America hadn’t seen since the late 1980s: A Ute.

In Australia, at the time, these half-car, half-pickups were hugely popular—and they still are today. Pontiac and Holden had a healthy relationship then, with the Holden Maloo imported to the US in 2004 as the GTO, and the Commodore hitting our shores in 2008 as the G8. Both vehicles had ute counterparts down under.

But the G8 was of specific interest to Lutz. With the fifth-generation GTO leaving the lineup in 2006, the G8 would become Pontiac’s rear-drive, V-8-powered halo car while the company planned a potential comeback.

As the brand’s flagship, the G8 would spawn a concept car that—in theory—would have made it to production.

2008 Pontiac G8 ST Concept
2008 Pontiac G8 ST Concept

“[The G8] was going to be followed by the Holden Ute,” Lutz tells Motor1. “Again, it was federalized, and we actually showed one as a preview of coming attractions.”

The G8 ST concept—short for “Sport Truck”—debuted at the 2008 New York Auto Show. It had the same chassis as the G8 sedan and a rowdy 6.0-liter V-8 with 361 horsepower paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. That setup would have been good for 0-60 mph time of 5.4 seconds. A lesser 3.6-liter V-6 making 256 hp was rumored, too.

And the ST could do actual truck stuff. The bed was 73.9 inches long with 42.7 cubic feet of cargo space. The payload capacity was 1,000 pounds and the towing capacity was 3,500 pounds. Both of those figures are just shy of the Ford Maverick.

2008 Pontiac G8 ST Concept

The G8 ST was supposed to go on sale in 2010, and it would have been the first ute in America since the late 1980s. But GM pulled the plug on Pontiac before the G8 ST ever made it to dealerships.

Granted, the G8 ST probably wouldn’t have been a huge seller. Even Lutz admits it would have been niche. But the low cost of entry and the potential to cash in on late 1980s nostalgia could have made the G8 ST into a cult classic.

“There’s a lot of nostalgia for El Caminos… it would have gotten Pontiac into the very, very light pickup business, and it was another interesting body style that nobody else in the industry offered anymore,” Lutz says. “And we didn’t have to invest anything because all of the federalization had already been done for the G8—so all of the crash requirements had been met. So it didn’t matter if we sold 10,000 a year, or 20,000 a year, or 50,000.”

2008 Pontiac G8 ST Concept

Where Is It Now?

Pontiac built two G8 ST concepts in 2008. The first one showed up at the New York Auto Show and a second was displayed at SEMA in Las Vegas that same year.

The first concept had Pontiac’s simple five-spoke wheel design and a dark blue paint job. The SEMA concept was even sportier. It had a bright red ‘Liquid Hot’ exterior, more aggressive 20-inch wheels with red accents, and red accents lining the leather interior. The SEMA version also sat a little lower to the ground.

These days, it’s unclear what GM has done with its two G8 ST concept cars. Like most other forgotten concepts, the two utes are probably shoved deep in storage somewhere. But they won’t be forgotten.

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