Introduction: The Pontiac GTO is considered by many the first true muscle
car. Whereas other manufacturers were concentrating on their fullsize
lines, Pontiac saw the potential for dropping a big block engine into an
intermediate frame and marketing it at a budget price. Pontiac
sneaked past the GM restriction on this combination by making the GTO
an option on the Tempest model, creating the hottest performance machine
yet. The GTO sold in great numbers and would fuel the competition between
GM, Ford, and Chrysler that would keep the muscle car industry thriving
for years to come. The GTO would later evolve into the Judge, an extroverted
option package of the blotted GTO, and would continue the tradition
until the GTO died an embarrasing death in 1974.
1964 Pontiac Tempest GTO
Comments: The year was 1964 and the early stages of the muscle car
era were dominated by fullsize cars. At GM, corporate policy prohibited
any intermediate size car from having engines greater than 330 cid.
The engineers at Pontiac had a different idea. They boldly made their
389 cid engine an option on the midsize Tempest and called the option
package GTO, which copied Ferrari's GTO (Gran Turismo Omologato) model.
The GTO package included the 389 V8, quick steering, dual exhaust, and
premium tires, a bargin at just $300. The 389 cid engine came with
325bhp with a single 4bbl carb or 348bhp with the optional Tri-Power
setup, 3 2bbl carbs. Pontiac hoped to sell 5,000 copies, they ended
up selling 32,450. The car that was marketed under a Tiger motiff but
soon became known as the "Goat" would stand the automobile industry on
end and lead to a host of imitators. But no one in the mid-sixties
would get it together quite like Pontiac.
Production: Sports Coupe: 7,384 Hardtop Coupe: 18,422 Convertible: 6,644
Engines: 389 V8 325 bhp @ 4800 rpm, 428 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm. 389 V8 (3x2)
348 bhp @ 4900 rpm, 428 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm.
Performance: 389/325: 0-60 in 7.5 sec, 1/4 mile in 15.7 sec @ 92 mph.
389/348: 0-60 in 6.6 sec, 1/4 mile in 14.8 sec @ 95 mph
1965 Pontiac Tempest GTO
Comments: The success of the 1964 model prompted Pontiac to improve
the GTO for 1965. Front and rear styling were changed with the GTO getting
stacked headlights like Pontiac's fullsize models. Both versions of the
389 were improved and Pontiac released an over the counter kit that would
turn the decorative hood scopes into the first functional ram air setup.
These improvements obviously worked as Pontiac sold 75,342 copies, of
which 20,547 had the tri-power option.
Production: Sports Coupe: 8,319 Hardtop Coupe: 55,722 Convertible: 11,311
Engines: 389 V8 335 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 431 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm. 389 V8 (3x2)
360 bhp @ 5200 rpm, 431 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm. 389 V8 Ram Air 360bhp @ 5200 rpm,
431 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm
Performance: 389/360 (3x2): 0-60 in 6.1 sec, 1/4 mile in 14.7 sec @ 99mph.
1966 Pontiac GTO
Comments: Pontiac made the GTO its own model for 1966 and was
rewarded with sales of 96,946 units, the highest ever for a true muscle
car. The GTO was restyled again for 1966 with gourgeous coke-bottle
contours with the roof and taillights receiving the most attention.
Engine choices remained the same until mid year when GM banned multi-carb
setups for all cars except the Chevrolet Corvette, probably in the face
increasing emissions standards.
Production: Sports Coupe: 10,363 Hardtop Coupe: 73,785 Convertible: 12,798
Engines: 389 V8 335 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 431 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm. 389 V8
360 bhp @ 5200 rpm, 424 lb-ft @ 3600rpm. 389 V8 Ram Air 360 bhp @ 5200 rpm,
424 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm
Performance: 389/360: 0-60 in 6.5 sec, 1/4 mile in 14.65 sec @ 98mph.
1967 Pontiac GTO
Comments: Undaunted by the death of their tri-power setup, Pontiac
unveiled an all new 400 cid enlargement of the 389 cid engine. The rear
and grill were restyled again and the new 400 cid engine was available in
economy (255bhp), standard (335bhp), High Output (HO) (360bhp) and Ram
Air (360bhp) versions. The tiger could still roar.
Production: Sports Coupe: 7,029 Hardtop Coupe: 65,176 Convertible: 9,517
Engines: 400 V8 255 bhp @ 4400rpm, 397 lb-ft @ 4400 bhp. 400 V8 335 bhp @ 5000 rpm,
441 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm. 400 V8 HO 360 bhp @ 5100 rpm, 438 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm. 400 V8
Ram Air 360 bhp @ 5100 rpm, 438 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm.
Performance: 400/255: NA. 400/335: NA. 400/360 HO: 0-60 in 6.6 sec,
1/4 mile in 14.66 sec @ 99mph. 400/360 Ram Air: NA.
1968 Pontiac GTO
Comments: The GTO was drastically restyled for 1968 and gained GM's
new split wheelbase A-body. The GTO now sat on a 112 inch wheelbase but
was still heavier than the 1967 models. The main news was the new Endura
bumper, which was a rubber bumper that gave the car a bumper-less appearance.
Furthermore, it was virtually indestructable, as demonstated in a famous
commercial with John DeLorean bashing a GTO's bumper with a sledgehammer,
to no effect. A new option was hidden headlights, which were so common
that many people thought they were standard. The engine choices remained
the same, with the economy and standard 400 cid receiving more horsepower,
and all engines were tuned for more torque at lower rpms.
Production: Hardtop Coupe: 77,704 Convertible: 9,980
Engines: 400 V8 265 bhp @ 4600 rpm, 397 lb-ft @ 2400bhp. 400 V8 350 bhp @ 5000 rpm,
445 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm. 400 V8 HO 360 bhp @ 5100 rpm, 445 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm. 400 V8
Ram Air 360 bhp @ 5400 rpm, 445 lb-ft @ 3800 rpm.
Performance: 400/360 HO: 1/4 mile in 14.25 seconds @ 99.0 mph. 400/360 Ram Air: 0-60
in 6.4 sec, 1/4 mile in 14.5 sec @ 98mph.
1969 Pontiac GTO
Comments: The big news for 1969 was the introduction of a new option
for the GTO. Rumored to be a sleeper budget model to combat the Plymouth Road
Runner, it actually was the opposite. Named after a phrase on the TV show
"Laugh In", the Judge was actually a $332 option package that included a
new 366bhp Ram Air III 400 cid V8, outrageous body paints, a large rear
spoiler, and decals throughout. New to both versions of the GTO was a Ram
IV 400 cid V8 seriously underrated at 370bhp, as well as restyled taillights,
deletion of the vent windows, and the discontinuation of the HO engine.
Production: Hardtop Coupe: 58,126 Convertible: 7,328 Judge Hardtop
Coupe: 6,725 Judge Convertible: 108
Engines: 400 V8 265 bhp @ 4600 rpm, 397 lb-ft @ 2400 bhp. 400 V8 350 bhp @ 5000 rpm,
445 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm. 400 V8 Ram Air III 360 bhp @ 5100 rpm, 445 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm.
400 V8 Ram Air 366 bhp @ 5100 rpm, 445 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm. 400 V8 Ram Air IV 370 bhp
@ 5500 rpm, 445 lb-ft @ 3900 rpm.
Performance: 400 RA III/360: 1/4 mile in 13.89 sec. @ 101.4 mph. 400/366 Ram Air:
1/4 mile in 13.70 sec. @ 103.6 mph. 400/370 Ram Air IV: 0-60 in 6.2 sec, 1/4 mile in
14.4 sec @ 98mph.
1970 Pontiac GTO
Comments: The GTO was radically restyled for 1970 and received a new
front end with four exposed headlamps wrapped in a Endura bumper, new
body creases, and a redesigned rear end. The economy engine was dropped,
but a new 455cid engine was added (though it was not available until
the end of the 1970 season on the Judge), signaling the end of GM's ban
on intermediates with engines greater than 400cid. The GTO had evolved
into more of a luxo-cruiser than all-out muscle car, as was the market
trend at the time.
A rare option on the 1970 GTO was the Vacuum Operated Exhaust (VOE - Option Code W-73)
option. The VOE option was an attempt to simplify the old hot rod trick of opening up the
exhuast system for more power. With the VOE option, the driver could pull on a knob
under the dash and engine vacuum was routed to a diaphragm on each muffler. The
diaphragm opened an internal baffle and gave the exhuast an express route through
the muffler. The device reduced backpressure (and thus increased power), but it
also significantly increased the noise level caused by the exhaust. This option was
available only from early November 1969 through January 1970. That was when
Pontiac aired a controversial commercial during the Super Bowl that showed off its
VOE option. Top GM executives saw the commercial, and immediately cancelled the option,
due to the Federal government's increasing restrictions on emissions and noise levels.
Only 233 GTO's were built with the VOE option in that short time, which was priced
at just $63.19.
Production: Hardtop Coupe: 32,737 Convertible: 3,615 Judge Hardtop
Coupe: 3,629 Judge Convertible: 168
Engines: 400 V8 350 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 445 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm. 400 V8 Ram Air III 366 bhp
@ 5100 rpm, 445 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm. 400 V8 Ram Air IV 370 bhp @ 5500 rpm, 445 lb-ft @
3900 rpm. 455 V8 360 bhp @ 4300 rpm, 500 lb-ft @ 2700 rpm.
Performance: 400/366 Ram Air III: 0-60 in 6.0 sec, 1/4 mile in 14.7 sec @ 98mph.
1971 Pontiac GTO
Comments: In 1971, Pontiac GTO sales which had been declining since
the late sixties crashed. Only 374 Judges were produced (including just
17 convertibles), despite having the 455 engine as standard, and this
would be its last year. The GTO was also in its last year as its own
seperate model. Furthermore, GM announced that all engines would
have to run on unleaded gas to meet new government regulations and
compression ratios and power ratings plummeted. The front end was
restyled and Pontiac tried to compensate for the drop in engine power
by adjusting the axle ratio and carburetor but to no avail. Performance
and sales were on the decline and nothing could hide that.
Production: Hardtop Coupe: 9,497 Convertible: 661 Judge Hardtop
Coupe: 357 Judge Convertible: 17
Engines: 400 V8 300 bhp @ 4800 rpm, 400 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm. 455 V8 325 bhp @
4400 rpm, 455 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm. 455 V8 HO 335 bhp @ 4800 rpm, 480 lb-ft @
Performance: 400/300: 1/4 mile in 14.4 seconds @ 98 mph.
1972 Pontiac GTO
Comments: 1972 saw the GTO revert back to an option on the LeMans and
Lemans Sport, costing just $353.88. The Judge was discontinued along
with the convertible models (although one GTO convertible is rumored
to have been built, along with three (gasp) GTO station wagons). The
most noticable change was in the engine power ratings, which dropped
dramaticly. This difference reflected the industry switch from an engine's
gross output (power with no accessories) to its SAE Net output (power
with accessories attached). This was supposed to be more representative
of the actually power delivered to the wheels -- although that didn't
really ease the pain for performance seekers. The 400 V8 was now rated
at 250 bhp (net) while the 455 was available in either 250 or 300 bhp
Production: Hardtop Coupe: 5,807
Engines: 400 V8 250 bhp @ 4400 rpm, 325 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm. 455 V8 250 bhp @
3700 rpm, 325 lb-ft @ 2400 rpm. 455 V8 HO 300 bhp @ 4000 rpm, 415 lb-ft @
Performance: 455/300: 1/4 mile in 14.6 seconds @ 95.2 mph.
1973 Pontiac GTO
Comments: 1973 saw the end of the once great GTO. New government
regulations eliminated the Endura bumper and added a heavy, odd-looking
steel one. The hood and tail took on displeasing triangular shapes
and this would be the last year the GTO would be based on the LeMans. The
400 V8 was rated at just 230 bhp while the 455 was rated at 250 bhp and was only
available with an automatic transmission.
Engines: 400 V8 230 bhp @ 4400 rpm, 325 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm. 455 V8
250 bhp @ 3700 rpm, 370 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm.
1974 Pontiac GTO
Comments: For 1974, its last year, the once proud GTO was reduced to an option on
the compact Ventura, either as a hatchback or a coupe. Only one engine was offered, a
350 V8 rated at a mere 200 bhp. This marked the first (and only) time the GTO came with
any engine smaller than 389 cid, but at least it came standard with the classic "shaker
hood" air scoop. Although it died a painful death, the GTO will always be remembered
as the Great One that started it all.
Production: 7,058 (2D Coupe: 5,335 2D Hatchback: 1,723)
Engines: 350 V8 200 bhp.
Performance: 0-60 in 7.7 seconds, 1/4 mile in 15.72 seconds @ 88 mph.