1964 - 2003 Pontiac GTO History
Pontiac GTO History
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What’s Your Favorite Automotive Memory?
Monterey Car Week is very nearly upon us, and with it comes copious opportunities to reminisce about the old days. Events like the Monterey Motorsports Reunion and Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance are the perfect gathering places for classic and antique automobiles, recreating the glory and beauty of the car world past for the car world now. Memories are in abundance this time of year, which got me thinking about my own automotive roots.
Although I’ve always had a fondness for cars, one of my favorite four-wheeled memories was when my father brought home a pristine 1967 Pontiac GTO. Finished in a perfect shade of Champagne paint on a black interior, it was like a vision of old school cool, a slab of RWD muscle just begging for a heavy right foot. I remember hearing it fire up for the first time, the lumpy idle of a big American V-8, the sound of fury emanating from the high-flow exhaust. I remember going for a ride in it, the smell of raw gasoline mixed with the upholstery, torque on demand from the long skinny pedal. Everywhere we went in that thing, people would look and stare. Complete strangers would approach us at gas stations to compliment the car. It was like we were celebrities.
Eventually, the GTO was sold, replaced by something more economical and sensible, and my own taste in cars expanded to the import scene, but my father’s ’67 Goat left a mark that’ll never fade.
So then – what’s your favorite automotive memory?
Valentine’s Day Special – Spread The Car Love
There’s really one good reason you’re reading these words right now – you love cars. Non-car people don’t get it. They laugh and roll their eyes, calling it a waste of time to fix up that old beater, a waste of money to get out to the track for another weekend. That’s ok – let ‘em. Of course it doesn’t make sense to them. They don’t know the joy of finally getting an engine to spark back to life. They don’t know the thrill of setting a new personal best lap time. Too bad for them.
In celebration of Valentine’s Day, we’ve assembled five videos that are sure to remind you why you love cars. We’ve got a little bit of everything here, from Euro speed to Japanese tech, ground-up rebuilds to expansive muscle car car collections.
So sit back, hit play, and when you’re done, treat yourself to a drive.
Continue reading to check out the videos.
Engine transplants have been around since time immemorial. After all, if you have an old classic with an outdated powertrain, wouldn’t you want to keep it up to date and give it something that fits more to our times?
Raybestos Garage certainly understands this thought. That’s why they took it upon themselves to take a 1964 Pontiac GTO-R, one of the most iconic American muscles in history, and give it a modern powertrain make-over to the tune of an LSX 454-powered 700-horsepower modern-day maniac. Raybestos and Hot Rod Chassis & Cycle used the frame from the ’64 GTO-R and added a few noteworthy parts, including a GM-sourced LSX crate engine, a Tremec six-speed manual transmission, a Moser 9-inch rear-end, custom fabricated body and suspension, $20,000 Raybestos NASCAR brakes, and a reverse-sweep 180-mph speedometer.
After all the work done on this American beast, we’re left with a 700-horsepower machine that, get this, is being given away for free by Raybestos! That’s right, you can drool over this car and have it in your garage in as easy as a few clicks. All you have to do is sign up for the contest on Raybestos’ site and you stand a chance to win a one-of-a-kind classic with a modern twist. We’re still trying to figure out what’s in it for them, but it may just be the crazy amount of advertising the group is getting for this contest alone.
There’s also plenty of videos detailing the build of the car and some behind-the-scenes looks at how this tuned-up workhorse became the head-turning monster it is today.
UPDATE 08/11/11: We’ve updated our video line-up of this monster-infused Pontiac GTO-R with some more tidbits on how the car is doing! Give it a watch, folks! It’s mighty interesting, to say the least.
The early 60s all the way up to the 70s was a golden age for the American automotive industry if only for the simple fact that muscle cars were growing not just in number, but in overall stature. The muscle car arms race of the that time yielded plenty of options for customers looking for more power and metal-twisting torque from these vehicles. And the models only grew in popularity as more and more people began clamoring for the biggest, baddest, and most powerful machines.
The general appeal these muscle cars offered to the growing American car culture of the time was the opportunity to own powerful cars that could be used for drag racing while also keeping costs at bay. At that time, a number of brands began developing their own models, including legendary names like the Ford Mustang, the Chevrolet Camaro, the Plymouth Barracuda, the Pontiac Trans-Am, and the Dodge Charger, to name a few.
While the golden age of American muscle was limited to parts of these two decades, the industry has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in recent years. It’s not going to compare to the 60s or the 70s, but as proven by customer clamoring, the culture of American muscle cars is far from bearing its last legs.
To pay tribute to the time where muscle was king of the road - and the drag strip - we have compiled a list of the 10 most memorable muscle cars of the golden age.
Check out the list after the jump.
A little over a year ago at the 2009 SEMA show, Trans Am Depot introduced a conversion kit for the Chevrolet Camaro, affectionately turning it from modern-day Bumblebee muscle to an iteration of what a Pontiac Firebird would look like. They even had a name for it: the Phoenix Trans Am.
Fast forward about 20 months and Trans Am Depot has returned for their next Camaro-based Pontiac conversion kit. The car of choice this time is the 1969 GTO Judge, although you certainly wouldn’t mistake this one for the real deal.
In any case, Trans Am Depot’s work is called the “6T9 Goat” and looking at the renderings sent over by TAD, the new conversion kit comes with plenty of styling elements, including a bespoke front end with its own split grille.
There’s also a revised hood with air scoops, a new tail lamp, a restyled ‘old-school’ trunk with a small rear wing, quad tail pipes, and a new set of alloy wheels.
“The 6T9 Goat concept was created by designer Kevin Morgan to capture the look and feel of the classic ’69 GTO Judge,” Grand Am Depot said in a statement. “The 1969 GTO is considered by many to be one of the top ten muscle cars of all time. Available this fall, this modern day version incorporates the look of yesteryear with the modern convenience and technology of today.”
Hardened fans of the classic GTO Judge – and the Camaro, for that matter – will probably snicker at the thought of driving a kit version of the old classic, but as the market has shown in recent years, there are some people that will still pay for conversion kits, even if it isn’t the real thing. If you’re one of these folks, here’s your chance to own a modern-day iteration of an all-time classic. Just make sure you don’t promote it as an original.
One of the men who can be held personally responsible for bringing General Motors to muscle car prominence in the 1960s is Jim Wangers. An automotive design hopeful turned advertising guru, Wangers is responsible for Pontiac’s performance enthusiast marketing campaigns of that foregone era of drag racing down Woodward Avenue and cars that you can take directly from the showroom to the race track and blow the doors off of just about anything. One particular Pontiac that Wangers was responsible for was the 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge, he even commissioned the rack band Paul Revere and the Raiders to take part in the car’s launch campaign and got George Barris to build the Monkees a modified GTO.
So it is only fitting that Big 3 Performance has decided to team up with the man himself in order to create an all new muscle car tribute to Jim Wangers and his Pontiac GTO. Starting from scratch, the team at Big 3 Performance have redesigned the 1969 Judge from the round up, including modern day running gear and other amenities. The body stays very close to the original, incorporating everything from the GTO’s three bar grills to the long sloping fenders to create a truly 21st century muscle car, after all why mess with perfection.
The Jim Wangers Edition GTO will be built using the highest quality materials available. The car’s interior will feature a set of heated and cooled Orthoped leather seats from the racing bucket manufacturer Recaro as well as a high tech audio visual package complete with touch screen navigation and fully powered accessories to complete the modern day muscle car experience.
If there is one car that has to be considered as the Godfather of American muscle cars, no vehicle can make a better case than the 1967 Pontiac GTO.
Conceptualized by the dynamic trio of Russell Gee, Bill Collins and John De Lorean, the GTO rose into prominence for creating a car that paved the way for future muscle cars to grow somewhat of a cult following among the speed-induced, thrill-seeking youth market of the 70’s. While the car is universally lauded these days as a true American icon, it actually was developed in the mold of a Pontiac Tempest, the difference being the GTO – which incidentally was named by De Lorean as a tribute to the Ferrari 250 GTO – included a 389 CID (6.5L) Pontiac V8 engine, as opposed to the 326 CID (5.3L) standard Tempest V8. Despite drawing criticism for the use of the ‘GTO’ tag, which in Italian stands for, Gran Turismo Omologato, Pontiac went ahead and put the car in its production line with modest expectations. Suffice to say, Pontiac had no idea the car would hit over to the market so much that it has since become a classic masterpiece, and a cultural icon to boot.
Our friend Gregg at WreckedExotics, just sent us some pictures and a video taken on the set of a video commercial where a Pontiac GTO is wrecked whole landing in the street of San Francisco... Bullit style!
We have no idea yet who is behind all this but the poor GTO certainly made its last jump. The video shows how both stunt men can barely control their car after the landing. Let’s just hope it is not a Prius commercial showing the death of the V8!
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 (...)
Every history comes to an end. So is with the car’s life. And 2006 brought with it the demise of a slew of auto models, cars, and trucks that won’t be back on dealers’ lots in 2007, including vehicles of every stripe from exotic supercars to plebeian sedans. Farewell to: Ford GT - Many consider the GT the greatest American supercar ever—a product from Ford no less. Reception of the concept version of the vehicle at the 2002 Paris Auto Show convinced Ford to produce the car on a limited basis. (...)
AZ Power and Sound has joined Racing for the Children to enter their non-factory backed 2004 Pontiac GTO into the 2006 Tire Rack Cannonball One Lap of America presented by Car and Driver Magazine with Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC (BFNT) as their title sponsor.
Racing for the Children was formed by Enrique Ramirez in 1999 to raise money and awareness for the Save the Children organization. Save the Children works to create real and lasting change in the lives of children (...)
In the begining ....
The GTO was the brainchild of McManus advertising agency executive Jim Wangers, an automotive enthusiast, and Pontiac chief engineer John De Lorean. Shane Wiser was the first to think of the idea of the GTO. In early 1963 General Motors management issued an edict banning divisions from involvement in auto racing. At the time Pontiac’s advertising and marketing approach was heavily based on performance, and racing was an important component of that strategy. Wangers (...)
GTO - three legendary letters that started and defined a muscle car phenomenon in 1964. More than four decades later, the 2006 Pontiac GTO is the spiritual leader of modern muscle.
For the ’06 model year, the GTO is distinguished by revised taillamp styling. The taillamp background is now gloss black instead of red. Two new colors - Fusion Orange and Spice Red - offer none-too-subtle choices for customers who want their Goat to stand apart from the crowd. There is also a new 18-inch wheel design with bright spokes that further identifies the ’06 model.
GM’s Performance Division unveiled the Pontiac GTO Ram Air 6 Employee Enthusiasm (EE!) concept vehicles at the 2004 Woodward Dream Cruise. Created for show purposes, the vehicle was completed by GM employee volunteers using parts donated by GM Powertrain, GM Performance Parts, and GM Design Center.
The Yellow Fire Pearl-colored Pontiac ASC GTO Stinger features several new, aggressive-looking body panels made using both ASC’s RIMFormâ„¢ low-investment composites process and ASC’s OmniCarbonâ„¢ carbon-fiber process for low-volume production as well as a short-throw TremecÂ® 6-speed transmission, a scooped hood, a state-of-the-art Sony XplodÂ® sound and DVD system and a custom BorlaÂ® “cat-back” dual exhaust. A Magnuson supercharger on the concept unveiled here today has the potential also to take the horsepower to 550 hp (and the 0-60 mph number to 4.3 seconds).