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GTO vs. GTO


#1

Only three letters are needed to signify the original muscle car—GTO. The iconic Pontiac is the godfather of the muscle car movement and has characterized the class since. When Pontiac resurrected the nameplate in 2004, most critics agreed that the new car was dynamically excellent, while a few were skeptical of its worthiness to carry the GTO name. Read our point-counterpoint below and decide for yourself.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/09/13/gto-vs-gto

#2

I know that this is a polarizing outlook and that I’ll probably catch a bunch of crap, but the modern GTO is absolutely worthy of the nameplate.

I believe that it captures the spirit of the original. Just like the original, it came out as a low frills sport coupe with the most advanced engine available for the time. It didn’t offer any frills that weren’t necessary to going fast (unlike a lot of muscle cars today) and it really set the bar for what other manufacturers had to bring to the table.

Yes, the looks are love it or hate it, but Pontiac has a rich history of hitting or missing in the design department, so I really don’t see that as a valid argument against this car. I say it is absolutely a GTO and one would take an honored place in the garage next to my 69 Grand Prix.


#3

I forecast there demise the minute I saw the new gto I could not tell it from a Toyota or honda; i guess the mopar and ford people had the last say on retro cars


#4

Realistically, the demise of Pontiac (along with Saturn and Hummer for that matter) had little to do with the GTO. If anything, the high performance Holdens (both GTO and G8) that GM brought over were life support for an already dying brand.

Late-90s/Early-00s GM did very little in terms of differentiating Chevrolet from Pontiac along with seriously mismanaging their funds. The writing was on the wall for Pontiac well before this car was introduced, it was just a matter of the financial crisis finally pushing it over the edge.

I guess I struggle to understand the “looks” argument when 5th-gens were great factory performance cars, and when it comes down to it, the fastest and best handling GTOs every produced. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder - I just happen to prefer non-retro styling.


#5

@llorettaarts last I remembered, everything looked like a Japanese econo box back then… It was a dark time for car styling, but bears nothing on how the car ACTUALLY performs. Unless you go by the racing stripes adds HP method of calculation.


#6

you are right about styling but all I am saying is the challenger & mustang reboot cars hit it out of the ball park and are still doing so 13-14 years later


#7

I just Brett’s reply and I agree that the last model gto’s were a better handling but i’m a 73 yr old with fond memories of my 68 & 69 goats


#8

I vote for the 1969-1970 GTO RamAir4…the only GTO engine that was heavily modified with different heads, intake, cam and exhaust…right from the factory…impossible to find today as most exploded on drag strips…followed by the 455 HO big block that had the torque,…but not the lumpy idle or high RPM cam…although the second series GTO bodies were heavier and more luxurious…they still performed well on the street…


#9

@llorettaarts True, but I don’t think Pontiac was going anything different form the rest of GM so I’m still wondering how Pontiac’s demise was indicated by the GTO’s styling. GM’s business model back then centered around trucks and FWD cars, the GTO was something completely different and fresh and quite the risk. Just like with the G8 and the Chevy SS sedan, you actually gotta market the thing properly for it to be successful. I think Pontiac’s demise is more due to the company being forced to lean out and not being to willing to kill their flagship even though Pontiac was the REAL innovating branch and always has been.


#10

Just like the original GTO evolved thru the years it was good or bad in step with the times. It does not help after a 30 year absence and then rushing a car into sales in the U.S. market. Using styling cues from the first GTO would not of worked in 2004. The GTO should of been named something else. Just like the G8 was done and praised for what it was. I purchased my 2004 GTO and looked at different hoods and chose one from MPD. That hood has the styling cues of the '68-'69 GTO hood and also is functional. I still enjoy my '04 GTO, parked next to my '69 Grand Prix and other cars.


#11

FYI The 3X2bbl manifold was cast iron not aluminum…


#12

The 2004 was just another fiasco failure by Lutz who was dead set on importing another cookie cutter boring car. Just look at what he did to the other GM divisions when he was there.


#13

I don’t know quite how to break it to all of you who complain bitterly about the modern GTO’s cookie-cutter styling, but back in '64, the GTO was practically indistinguishable from the rest of Detroit’s mid-sizes, and especially GM’s A-body siblings. That is, until one mashed the go-fast pedal to the floor. In that scenario, the '04 was the perfect descendant of the '64.
My only complaint is that the thing that made the original GTOs stand out to me was the engine. Don’t ask me why, but I preferred the feel of driving the Pontiac to any of the other early muscle cars. The only other one that came close was Plymouth’s GTX, and even though the 440 had gobs of power, the whole package just felt a little, well, clunky compared to the GTO. Plus, I never did get to the point where Mopar’s gear-reduction starter didn’t set my teeth on edge. At any rate, that’s my two cents worth.


#14

@rbonto Don’t sugar coat it. Please, do tell us how you really feel.

Have you been behnd the wheel of one? If not, I think if you should take the opportunity to drive one, it would change your mind. Personally, I’m glad Lutz brought it over. I wish GM had brought more Holden/HSV based products over.


#15

Had a 65, No need to perfect or refine it just don’t match up. And yes I know it’s 2018.


#16

@MisterTorgue
You hit the nail on the head. Lutz did us a huge favor by going out on a limb and fighting to get the Holden cars here (GTO, G8, G8 GXP, & SS). I agree the GTO styling was not exciting, but driving the car was. All of the Holden cars have a sporty European feel to them that American car companies struggle to duplicate. The worst thing about all of these cars is that production has been discontinued.


#17

Well I have a PRE- GTO, the 1963 Lemans. Has the first and only 326V8 that was really a 336cc engine, with the ropeshaft drive and transaxle in the rear. Now THIS is the car we should include in the talking. :o) www.littleindians.com


#18

The 64 was a great car. No frills. I bought one back then “3 deuces and a 4 speed”. The early cars were recalled to replace the vacuum advance for the outboard carbs with a standard linkage. The vacuum set up made the engine over rev when you ran it up.Great car, should have held on to it


#19

The 5th-gen GTO looked like a Cavalier with a split grille. I have a 2008 Saab 9-7x Aero with the LS-2. It’s a rocket ship in soccer mom’s clothing.


#20

Say what you will. I owned my "67 for 29 years until selling it at nice profit last year. I wanted it new when I got out of the Navy (incl. 'Nam) and had to wait for a used one over two decades later. I enjoyed my Goat. When the Monero-based GTO came out, I considered buying one but didn’t have the funds. I would consider one today. Except for the reversed radio (Australian right hand drive), I enjoyed my test drive in the probably 2004. My brother had a new '64 and loved his. I’ve loved them both.