Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Great One

GTO by William 74
GTO, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Considered to be the first real muscle car, Pontiac's GTO started out as an option package on the midsized Tempest, and was available in coupe, hardtop, and convertibles. But, instead of a fancy stereo or two tone paint, the GTO delivered a 389 cubic inch mill and a stick shift, and a useful bump in performance. Further options included a Hurst shifter, a three-carb induction system, and a heavy duty ride and handling package.

The big engine/smaller car recipe is a classic one, but one that almost didn't get made. Since the fifties, there had been a "gentlemen's agreement" among the big three to not formally go automobile racing, and to further this, General Motors had a corporate policy limiting engine sizes in their mid-sized cars. Shoehorning the big 389 into the Tempest was against this policy, but Pontiac executives okayed a limited run of cars, fearing it wouldn't find a market.

They were wrong-the GTO went on to sell 10,000 units in it's introductory year, and went on further success on the sales floor as well as on the drag strip.

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