Pontiac wants a hot new rear wheel drive car on the Zeta platform. Chevrolet is getting the Camaro.
But Bob Lutz says there won’t be a Firebird, at least in the sense of the original Firebird, which shared its platform and body with the Camaro. Lutz has decreed that the new Camaro will share its body with no other car.
Which leaves Pontiac trying to get a Zeta-based GTO, maybe as early as 2010, but without the advantage of the Camaro shell.
According to Car and Driver magazine, which spoke to Pontiac spokesperson James Hobson, Pontiac wants a Zeta-based performance car, one that is a real muscle car. It believes it is like to get it, too. However, if it is not to share the Camaro bodywork, the new GTO would certainly have to share a great deal with the upcoming G8 replacement for the Grand Prix.
Pontiac wouldn’t be talking about this car if it did not expect to build it. Moreover, if the target is 2010, they can’t start from scratch. It would seem that the best way to meet that deadline would be to build off the Camaro, just as they did with the original Firebird.
But to get past the dictate of Mr. Lutz, they’re going to have to work the edges and make it look noticeably different, even if it is not.
Of course, if they build it by creating a slight deception of top management at GM, then it truly will be a GTO.
Pontiac management got the original GTO past rules at GM that prohibited big block engines in intermediate size cars by calling the GTO an “option package,” rather than a specific model, when the car was introduced in 1964. Then it had to persuade dealers that they should order cars equipped with that option – and many dealers couldn’t see the sense in it.
But, with almost no advertising support, the car took off.Pontiac sold 32,340 GTOs in 1964. They sold many more in the years that followed.
No doubt Pontiac hopes history will repeat.