Buick-Pontiac-GMC General Manager John Larson announced in a video clip to dealers on Tuesday February 21, that the Australian-built Pontiac GTO, which was based on the Holden Monaro, will be ceasing production at the end of the 2006 model year. Larson cited upcoming Federal regulations as the main reason. In 2007, new airbag deployment standards would take effect, which the GTO would not be able to meet.

"By the end, the GTO provided Pontiac with exactly what it needed, a great performance icon, which brought that performance piece of Pontiac back into the market." Larson went on to say that the motoring press cited the GTO as the best horsepower-per-dollar value in the market.

Larson also added that Pontiac was "exploring opportunities" in other rear-drive performance vehicles, both coupes and sedans. It is, at this point, unknown if this means that a new-generation GTO will be coming out in 2008, or perhaps the rumored G8 sedan, presumably based on a similar architecture. Some insiders have even hinted at a possible Firebird variant to come along a year or so after the Camaro, if it actually returns as expected. The Camaro was a huge hit at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit this past January.

Also, no word yet has come through regarding Pontiac's future motorsports plans, in which the GTO played a heavy role in the last two years. We'll continue to update this story as it develops.