AJ's Car of the Day 1972 Pontiac GTO Hardtop Coupe

Car: Pontiac GTO Hardtop Coupe

Year: 1972

What makes it special: By 1972, things had largely slowed in the muscle-car arena. Emissions and fuel-consumption concerns as well as safety regulations were creating a perfect storm to end the party. For the prior year, the GTO received updated styling and was arguably the most aggressive-looking GTO ever built with big hood scoops, slightly widened fender flares and a revised nose and tail, to name a few things. It was also more modernly styled, leaving much of the 1960s design behind.

What made it famous: In 1972, the GTO reverted from a separate model line to an option package for the Le Mans and Le Mans Sport coupes. On the base Le Mans line, the GTO package could be had with either the low-priced pillared coupe or hardtop coupe. Rally II and honeycomb wheels were optional on all GTOs, with the honeycombs now featuring red Pontiac arrowhead emblems on the center caps, while the Rally IIs continued with the same caps as before, with the letters "PMD" (for Pontiac Motor Division). Power, now rated in SAE net hp terms, was down further, to 250 hp at 4,400 rpm and 325 lb·ft at 3,200 rpm torque for the base 400 engine. A very rare option was the 455 HO engine, essentially similar to that used in the Trans Am. It was rated at 300 hp at 4,000 rpm and 415 lb·ft at 3,200 rpm, also in the new SAE net figures. Despite its modest 8.4:1 compression, it was as strong as many earlier engines with higher gross power ratings; yet like all other 1972-model engines, it could perform on low-octane regular leaded, low-lead or unleaded gasolines. Only 646 cars with this engine were sold.

Why I would want one: Despite the fact the GTO was heading downwards in the power department for 1972, It still had some kick left, and is still retained very exciting styling.

Fun fact: GTO's Endura bumper was offered as an option on Le Mans/Sport models, with "PONTIAC" spelled out on the driver's side grille rather than "GTO."