When you hear the song Little GTO by Ronny and the Daytonas, does it conjure images of a sleek yet muscular car cruising the strip back in the mid-60s? It should. The promotion team at Pontiac commissioned the tune for the debut of one of the most popular classic cars ever built: the Pontiac GTO.
The Pontiac GTO made its debut in 1964 and enjoyed a 10-year production run before retiring from the U.S. and Canadian markets. Designed as an affordable, powerful machine, it targeted young adults looking for a competitive ride that didn’t break the bank. Buyers could slide into a Coupe for under $2,500 or upgrade to the Convertible for just $300 more.
The GTO set the stage for future muscle car competition with a wide stance, long silhouette, and a motor able to run a quarter mile in under 16 seconds. Other manufacturers would need help to catch up by launching the Ford Mustang in ’65 and the Chevrolet Camaro in ’67.
Best Muscle Car Ever?
Many classic car enthusiasts say that the Pontiac GTO was the most iconic muscle car in the 60s and 70s. It certainly stood apart from the other rides in the segment with its pointy beak, inset headlights, and sculpted fenders.
It did not have the most powerful motor, earn the fastest 0 to 60 mph times, or even sport a luxurious leather interior. However, the 398 cubic-inch V8 engine with three two-barrel carburetors matched to a four-speed transmission churned out an impressive 348 horsepower. The dual exhaust sang out when the pilot mashed the pedal.
Over the years, it has maintained its position atop the most popular classic car lists due to its beauty, spirited performance, and availability.
What Does the GTO Stand For?
You may have heard the GTO referred to as a Goat among car enthusiasts, but that was simply a nickname that stuck with the ride over time. Another famous moniker is “Gas, Tires, and Oil.” But that isn’t where its name came from, either.
The GTO badge arose from the FIA in Europe and stood for Gran Turismo Omologato. A model built to compete in the grand touring series had to make a set number of vehicles for the public market to earn the GTO moniker. Pontiac grabbed the acronym and applied it to their new machine.
Was there a GTO built in the 2000s?
If you google the GTO, you may see some sold as new between 2004 and 2006. Pontiac had Australian manufacturer Holden assign the GTO badge to their Monaro and imported the resulting machine for the North American market. The car bore a little physical resemblance to the muscle-car version, but it did sport a 5.7L V8 motor–the same one used in the Corvette.
Are those functional hood scoops?
Early fans of the GTO loved to point to the sculpted hood with two scoops that belonged on a performance machine. However, the base trim hood did not sport functional scoops. There was an available Ram Air kit for the ’67 and later years, but less than 800 with the upgrade ever hit the street.
If you’re shopping for an addition to your collection, check if yours has the original Ram Air hood or if somebody added an aftermarket upgrade.
A Collector Car that Fits Nearly Any Budget
When you’re hunting for your first classic car or want to increase your investments, the Pontiac GTO offers rides for just about everyone. Pontiac produced nearly 100,000 sporty rides in 1966 and another 80,000 in 1967. This means there are plenty still available on the antique car market. However, the 1973 GTO is known as the most affordable today, with prices starting under $10,000.
For the more discerning collector, search for the 1969 GTO Judge convertible with the Ram Air upgrade. Only five rolled off the production line, which makes this rare beast able to sell for as high as a half-million at auction.
Protecting Your Own GTO
Once you get your baby home and in your garage, remember to contact us at Wayfarer Insurance Group to ensure that your ride will be adequately protected in case of an accident.