The GTO, America’s Most Disobedient Muscle Car, and Its Rebellious Past

For those who remember when this car was the pinnacle of performance, we may wonder what became of the legendary GTO.

Since the ideal American spirit had shifted from the more conservative/stoic persona of the 1940s to the rebellious nature of the 1960s, 1964 was a watershed year in the American auto industry. That meant kids all over the country were following in their heroes’ footsteps by spitting in the face of nuance. Everything from the clothes people wore to their cars was rocking brightly colored paint, powerful presentation, and a rock n’ roll style! The legendary Pontiac GTO was the first vehicle to try out this defiant stance, as it defied all the rules at GM to prove that people want performance. Tiny by today’s standards, but John Delorean recognized the enormous potential hidden beneath the hood.

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When the Pontiac GTO finally arrived on the market after years of planning and construction, millions of eager buyers snapped it up. Commercials for the vehicles featured ferocious tigers reclining on the hood, a nod to the 389 ci V8 engine that produced 348 horsepower. Considering that annual production had peaked at 32,450 vehicles in 1964, the meteoric rise to 96,946 that occurred in 1966 thanks to the introduction of the A-body, makes it clear that this was an insane figure for the era. GTO production remained consistently high at around 80,000 units per year for three years before falling to 72,287 in 1969.

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Sales of the GTO had dropped to 40,000 by 1970, and by the time it was discontinued in 1974, they had dropped to just 7,058 vehicles. Starting with the 389 in 1964 and culminating with the legendary 400 ci V8, the GTO was equipped with some seriously massive power plants throughout its production run. High-performance exterior options like the Ram Air IV package will always be associated with the legendary American speed demon. Iconic as the GTO was, the brand was given a new lease on life in 2003 with the release of the new GTO, which featured an LS1 engine producing 350 horsepower and an LS2 engine producing 400 horsepower by 2006. This was a huge improvement over the traditional muscle cars of the past, but it wasn’t enough to save the floundering Pontiac brand, and the GTO was discontinued in 2006, just two years before Pontiac was officially discontinued.


Krista Fernando
I'm a freelance writer with a strong desire to write on the most popular topics. My goal is to write about anything that has been thoroughly studied and to make blogs sparkle. Continue reading!

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