Car: Pontiac GTO Hardtop Coupe
What makes it special: The Pontiac GTO was built in generations from the 1964 to 1974 model years. The GTO is considered by some to have started the trend with all four domestic automakers offering a variety of competing models to the muscle car wars. For the 1964 and 1965 model years, the GTO was an optional package on the intermediate-sized Pontiac Tempest. The GTO became its own model from 1966 to 1971. then became an option package again for the 1972 and 1973 intermediate Le Mans.
What made it famous: Beginning with the 1965 model year, the GTO had Pontiac’s characteristic vertically stacked quad headlights. Heavy-duty shocks were standard, as was a stronger front antisway bar. The dashboard design was changed, and an optional rally gauge cluster added a more legible tachometer and oil pressure gauge. An additional option was a breakerless transistor ignition. The 389 engines received revised cylinder heads with re-cored intake passages and high rise intake manifolds, improving breathing. Rated power increased to 335 hp at 5,000 rpm for the base 4-barrel engine; the Tri-Power engine was now rated 360 hp at 5,200 rpm. The ‘S’-Cammed Tri-Power engine had slightly less peak torque rating than the base engine 424 lb⋅ft at 3,600 rpm versus 431 lb⋅ft at 3,200 rpm. Transmission and axle ratio choices remained the same. The 3-speed manual was standard, while two 4-speed manual transmissions in either wide or close ratio or 2-speed automatic were optional.
Why I would want one: If you are a true muscle car fan, you want a GTO in your collection.
Fun fact: The restyled GTO had a new simulated hood scoop. A seldom seen dealer-installed option consisted of a metal underhood pan and gaskets to open the scoop, making it a cold air intake. The scoop was low enough that its effectiveness was questionable, but it allowed more of the engine’s roar to escape.