Pontiac GTO review

Photography by: R. Ratzke

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Pontiac GTO Pontiac GTO Pontiac GTO
Pontiac GTO Pontiac GTO Pontiac GTO
Pontiac GTO Pontiac GTO Pontiac GTO
Pontiac GTO Pontiac GTO Pontiac GTO
Pontiac GTO Pontiac GTO Pontiac GTO
Pontiac GTO Pontiac GTO Pontiac GTO
Pontiac GTO Pontiac GTO Pontiac GTO
Pontiac GTO Pontiac GTO Pontiac GTO
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US Muscle Car Showdown US Muscle Car Showdown US Muscle Car Showdown

US muscle car showdown #1: The Pontiac GTO - the original American muscle car...

Pontiac GTO review
US Muscle Car Showdown: Pontiac GTO

 

Pontiac GTO

US Muscle Car Showdown #1:
Pontiac GTO - The Original

All this excess started at Pontiac in 1963 under the stewardship of John Z. DeLorean – now better known as the guy who gave Marty McFly’s ‘Back to the Future’ time-machine its name.

GTO is the original American muscle car, the three letters that marked the start of this power-crazed era. Here we have a 1969 model packing 6.5 litres and 350bhp; turn the key and the Tri-Power 6.5 litre V8 idles lumpily, with 350 horses waiting impatiently under the Ram Air hood to start a stampede.

Dip the clutch and into first. 2500RPM, snap the clutch back. The springs squat and the 14in rear wheels immediately start to fill their arches with acrid smoke. The entire bodyshell seems to bend to the force of the motor. Fortunately the rev-counter sits on top of the bonnet, right in the driver’s field of vision.

Second gear, then third and fourth – after roughly 14 seconds and 400 meters that’s the quarter mile done and dusted. Thus a whole generation of car fans found a new way to fill their weekends. And who started it all?

John Z. DeLorean, car-nut and Pontiac chief engineer, along with marketing chief Jim Wangers and General Manager Pete Estes, all amateur racers, hatched a plan to create a series of high-performance cars in early 1963. Their GM bosses knew nothing of it – after all, Pontiac had proved its performance car credentials with the ‘Super Duty’ program in the fifties.

GMs policy of disallowing racing in any form and limiting the Intermediate cars to a maximum engine size of 330 cu in (5.4 litres) caused the three executives to create the optional ‘W62 GTO’ package to exploit a policy loophole; thus with the insertion of the larger Bonneville engine into the Tempest body-shell, the muscle car was born. Only once the commercial success of the formula was proven, did the GTO become a standalone model.

Stylist Bill Porter managed to create a body that not only looked good with its glorious Coke-bottle profile but also that worked for the driver - and compared to some of the Chrysler battleships, the GTO is easy to hustle – despite its jelly-rolling chassis when momentum really builds.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Pontiac GTO

Engine: 6548cc V8
Power: 257kW @ 5000rpm
Torque: 603Nm @ 3900rpm
Weight: 2250kg
Gearbox: 4-speed manual
Brakes: discs/drums (f/r)
Top Speed: 210km/h

 

The five contenders:

1. Pontiac GTO

2. Ford Torino

3. Chevrolet Chevelle

4. Dodge Charger

5. Plymouth Superbird

 

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