Readers Rides

The All Inclusive Pontiac GTO

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By Mark Weisseg

I say all inclusive because this beautiful car which started life in 1964, fit nearly everybody. Certainly it died a horrible death at one point and was painfully revived in 2004 for a couple of years but, back in the days in the sixties, bands wrote songs about these cars, they were so popular.

The car had immediate appeal, one part due to the car’s exterior beauty. The interior wasn’t grand, but very efficient and high quality. But what really set this car apart was under the hood.
Th engine had ‘Tri Power’. That is three, two barrel carburetors that made the big V8 roar to life. The car then had design changes – the front end and the point on the hood. They named it “the Judge” and the car was an instant favorite.

Now, let’s not think that every Pontiac GTO was made to race around the streets. Lots of people bought them for other reasons. Big trunk, nice interior, plenty of power under the hood, reliability, and so on. We did not have nearly the highway system we have today back in the early sixties. Many roads were two lane roads that required a driver to pass a slower vehicle. With the GTO the driver had the assurance that if he or she stuck there foot on the gas pedal the car would go like a bat out of hell. If you had a little six cylinder in your Rambler you may want a longer road or more room to make that pass. But, with the Pontiac GTO is was go time.

It’s just a shame like so many other cars of this era that they eventually fell into a ghost of their former selves.
GM put the GTO label in some terrible cars later in its life and finally dropped it all together. Then, in 2004 GM brought back a car that was selling well in Australia and put a GTO badge on it here in the states.
It was a very bland looking car and did not look like what we thought a GTO should look like. Just like today’s Mustang, a Challenger and Camaro look somewhat like they did back in the 60’s and 70’s, the GTO missed the mark completely.
Now, all these years later and that 2004 experiment is still dead. But, roll up in a ’69 or ’70 GTO and everyone stands to attention. For good reason too.
They were amazing automobiles with great character.

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