Six Things to Know About the Pontiac GTO
- Legendary engineer John DeLorean's most notable contribution to Pontiac is the GTO which he co-created with engine specialist Russell Gee and chassis engineer Bill Collins. It was DeLorean's idea to name it GTO from the abbreviation of Gran Turismo Omologato (the Italian for Grand Tourer Homolgated) based on a successful racecar's name. Because of these initials, this muscle car has been nicknamed as "The Goat."
- Because of this racing car roots, it's only natural that several drivers have chosen to drive the Pontiac GTO on the track. Australian professional racing driver Joey Scarallo used one during the 2009 SCCA World Challenge. Meanwhile, Champion Formula D driver and occasional stunt driver Rhys Millen drove a drift car version of the Pontiac GTO and won two seasons in Winnipeg in 2004 and 2005.
- There's another sportsman who's also a fan of this muscle car. WWE wrestling legend John Cena doesn't think much of the GTO's handling on the road. Still, as a patriotic muscle car enthusiast, he owns three of these Pontiac cars at their top-of-the-line configuration. He also appreciates the fact that his GTOs are both look and sound loud thanks to the Ram air flow motor on his red 1969 and red 1970 models as well as the 454-cubic motor on his black 1971 model.
- Cena's fellow celebrity, singer turned actor Justin Timberlake, doesn't quite share his preferences in patronizing only American cars. While he normally drives the German Audi, Timberlake was recently seen driving a classic black Pontiac GTO convertible with a woman on the passenger's side.
- Action movies love the Pontiac GTO, whether it's the classic version from the 1960s-1970s or the more recent 2004-2006 reincarnation. The classic has been featured in xXx with Vin Diesel, Knight and Day with Tom Cruise, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle with Lucy Liu, Faster with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and The Punisher with Thomas Jane. Meanwhile, the reincarnation found its place in The Mechanic with Jason Statham, Herbie: Fully Loaded with Lindsay Lohan, and Transformers with Shia LaBoeuf.
- The classic version of the Pontiac GTO has also been seen on the small screen. It had quite a few appearances in various TV shows including The Monkees, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, I Dream of Jeannie, 90210, Miami Vice, Magnum P.I., and The Walking Dead among others.
Getting Problems with the Pontiac GTO
Getting an original version of DeLorean's best-known Pontiac model might be a little bit more difficult than getting the 2004-2006 reincarnations, but both these cars can't claim to be perfect. These are the common problems that owners and reviewers have encountered with the Pontiac GTO parts and accessories:
Got the old Goat: Problems with the 1964-1974 for its original owners
Managing to acquire and restore the very first muscle car is only the start of an original GTO owner's problems. General Motors issued two recalls, one in 1966 and the other in 1968. The first one was because of an improperly installed steering shaft that caused a binding condition that could expose the shaft to abnormal stresses that would eventually break the shaft and cause a loss of control in the steering. It's possible that the owners of the GTO at that time would not have noticed this problem, so the shaft should be replaced with an improved design. The second one was called for because some dealers did not receive a brake pedal support bracket in the kit, which they use to convert manual disc brakes to power disc brakes. So, some cars with power disc brakes might get broken or cracked brackets which can cause leaks in the hydraulic system and a loss in braking control.
Got the old GTO: Problems for new owners of the classic
Current owners of the original GTO might notice rusting in certain areas of the car's body, including the trunk, quarter panels, and fenders. What's more, they could also need to start the car with jumpers even with a new voltage regulator and battery installed.
Got the new GTO: Problems with the 2004-2006 version
With its bland exterior styling, hefty price tag, and more refined aura, it doesn't seem right to continue calling the new GTO a goat. Still, this car has problems that have gotten owners annoyed with it. The soft suspension can't handle the power of the V8 engine that could go up to 400 hp and have 400 lb-ft of torque. Slow reflexes coupled with too much body roll and weak brakes don't make for that legendary feeling. Furthermore, it's rather hard to store a lot of junk inside a trunk that only has nine cubic feet of space. Finally, a car safety group has complained to the NHTSA that the tires on the 2005 model year were too wide at 245 mm. The tires would rub against the struts, causing them to wear out and create the risk of tire failures.
Pontiac GTO Maintenance Tips for Better Handling
The Pontiac GTO holds the distinction of being the first muscle car ever produced, with its original production run in the mid-1960s to mid-1970s. Muscle cars have always impressed enthusiasts with their powerful 5.7-liter LS1 V-8 engines that generate a whopping 350 horsepower at 5200 RPM and 365 pound-feet of torque. These high-performance vehicles are also ideal for DIY enthusiasts, as they were made using simple technology, making them extremely easy to modify and maintain.
If you own a GTO, one of the easy modification and maintenance jobs you can do is to strengthen your muscle car's frame. Better security during a crash and better handling in difficult road conditions are among the benefits of a stronger car frame. Here are some tips you can follow to achieve them for your GTO:
- Keep the frame rust-free.
The frame is one of the vehicle parts most likely to develop rust because of frequent exposure to water and moisture. Although you cannot avoid that, you can prevent rust with proper maintenance, which is a lot easier and less expensive than getting rid of the rust that has already formed. Over time, your car may lose its integrity to rust. So check your car frame regularly for any early signs of rust. Its paint, which seals the metal frame and helps keep moisture at bay, must also be protected by washing your GTO's frame every two weeks and waxing it every month. While you are at it, check the frame for any bubbling, scratches, or flaking. Scratches or flaking can make your car frame vulnerable to moisture and rust. Bubbles, on the other hand, can be a symptom of rust that is forming beneath the paint job.
- Use products that prevent rust.
If there is a damaged area on your car's paint, apply a sealant to prevent rust from forming. But first, you have to clean and dry the area before you use the sealant so that dirt or moisture will not get sealed under the coating. Washing your car more often is a must when you drive over icy roads that are covered in salt, as getting rid of salt can help stop rusting. To boost your car's protection from rust, you may also buy an anti-rust spray or a protective lubricant, especially if you drive your GTO in harsh conditions. The anti-rust spray and the lubricant adds a layer of protection to your car's paint job.
- Examine the welds of your chassis.
Inspect the welds and see to it that they are all secure. Do you notice small holes within the welding? If so, you can fix it yourself through spot welding, or you may take it to a mechanic for a low-cost repair. Do not delay this, as tiny holes can become big eventually and cost you more in repairs.
- Install sub-frame connectors.
Get them for your car, and your GTO will thank you for it and reward you with a stronger chassis, better rear suspension performance, and ultimately, better handling. Sub-frame connectors work like the cross rails for fences. The best thing about them is that they will not cost you an arm and a leg. Make sure that you get connectors that are compatible with your GTO's production year.
Pontiac GTO: The Classic Muscle Car of the '60s
The first true muscle car with attitude–this was how the Pontiac GTO rolled during its arrival in the 1960s. Sporting a V8 engine and a racy trim like a boss, the GTO was built for what it stands for: Gran Turismo Omologato, an Italian term for an official Grand Tourer class car. However, this world-famous muscle car was in hiatus for three decades until its comeback in 2004–with more power and stylish features than ever.
1964-1967: The Pontiac Tempest option
Envisioned to emphasize street performance despite General Motors’ factory-sponsored auto racing ban in 1963, the Pontiac GTO braved the rules and shone as GM’s A-Body platform, leveling with the Ferraris of its time. It served first as an option package for the Pontiac Tempest, either as a hardtop or a convertible. During its early years, the GTO underwent several styling and mechanical changes and gained high sales for the GM.
1968-1973: Indestructible GTO
A more curvaceous, semi-fastback GTO with a shorter wheelbase debuted in 1967. It boasted of its clean, minimalist, and tough redesign features, concealed headlights and wipers, and the body-color Endura front bumper, which made the GTO almost indestructible. However, towards the end of this gen, the sales dipped due to the energy crisis, leaving consumers disheartened in buying high-maintenance muscle cars.
1974: The new Pontiac Ventura
Along came the Pontiac Ventura, which replaced the Tempest as the GTO package’s base. The package included a three-speed manual transmission, powered by 5.7 L V8 engine at 200 hp at 4,400 rpm. This option could be for a two-door sedan or hatchback coupe with impressive interiors. Ride and handling were improved drastically with the radial tuned suspension and tuning options.
1975-1998: The planned revival
GM decided to discontinue the GTO option, replacing it with the Buick V8 engine for the Pontiac Ventura. However, Pontiac planned to revive the GTO; its prototype was applied to several models, but these cars did not gain popularity during this time. Thus, GTO was temporarily out of the scene.
2004: The powerful comeback
The revival of the GTO happened six years after, as a rebadge of the Holden Monaro, a two-door coupe in Australia. There, the new breed of GTOs were assembled,but did not become a hit when they arrived in the United States. Critics said that the body was too conservative for a race car with such class. Muscle cars from competitors also stole the scene from the pioneering model. Massive restyling and engine overhaul was then done to achieve the GTO trademark. Its new LS2 engine with increased power and torque gave it the edge it needs; it also became more sporty and stylish.
2006: The GTO had to go
Interior and exterior upgrades were done this year: from blacked-out tail lamps to more efficient power seats. However, GM decided to make the 2006 model year as the last for the GTO. Although it has something to do with the new airbag deployment guidelines, the sales also dipped. Still, the GTO model left a legacy that GM could collaborate with other divisions to create superb, top-of-the-line automobiles.