AJ’s “Badass Friday” Car of the Day: 1966 Pontiac GTO Convertible

AJ’s “Badass Friday” Car of the Day: 1966 Pontiac GTO Convertible

Car: Pontiac GTO Convertible

Year: 1966

What makes it special: The GTO was manufactured by Pontiac from 1964 to 1974 model years, and by GM’s subsidiary Holden in Australia from 2004 to 2006 model years. The first generation of the GTO was a muscle car produced in the 1960’s and the 1970’s. Although there were muscle cars introduced earlier than the GTO, it’s considered by some to have started the trend with all four domestic automakers offering a variety of competing models. For the 1964 and 1965 model years, the GTO was an optional package on the intermediate-sized Pontiac Lemans. The 1964 GTO VIN number started with VIN 82… The 1965 GTO VIN number started with VIN 237… The GTO became a separate model from 1966 to 1971 VIN 242… It became an optional package again for the 1972 and 1973 intermediate Le Mans. For 1974, the GTO optional package was offered on the compact-sized Ventura.

What made it famous: The GTO became a separate Pontiac model in 1966, instead of being an “option package” on the Tempest LeMans. The entire GM “A” body intermediate line was restyled that year, gaining more curvaceous styling with kicked-up rear fender lines for a “Coke-bottle” look, and a slightly “tunneled” backlight. The tail light featured a louvered cover, only seen on the GTO. The GTO was available as a pillared coupe, a hardtop, and a convertible. Also an automotive industry first, plastic front grilles replaced the pot metal and aluminum versions seen on earlier years. New Strato bucket seats were introduced with higher and thinner seat backs and contoured cushions for added comfort and adjustable headrests were introduced as a new option. The instrument panel was redesigned and more integrated than in previous years with the ignition switch moved from the far left of the dash to the right of the steering wheel. Four pod instruments continued, and the GTO’s dash was highlighted by walnut veneer trim. Engine and carburetor choices remained the same as the previous year, except the Tri Power option was discontinued mid-model year. A new engine was offered that saw few takers: the XS option consisted of a factory Ram Air set up with a new 744 high lift cam. Approximately 35 factory installed Ram Air packages are believed to have been built, though 300 dealership installed Ram Air packages are estimated to have been ordered. On paper, the package was said to produce the same 360 hp as the non-Ram Air, Tri Power car.

Why I would want one: Always loved the mid-60’s stacked headlight look. To me, this was the greatest period of the Pontiac GTO.

Fun fact: Although Pontiac had strenuously promoted the GTO in advertising as the “GTO tiger,” it had become known in the youth market as the “goat.”