Few model names evoke the muscle-car era of the 1960s and early 1970s like the GTO. Introduced as a 1964 offshoot of the Tempest, Pontiac's original GTO quickly captured the attention of youthful drivers who craved a strong V-8 engine and performance-oriented adds-ons in a comparatively lightweight body. Production of the original GTO lasted until 1974, and more than half a million were built.
After an absence of three decades, the legendary GTO makes a comeback as a 2004 model. Based on the Australian-built Holden Monaro performance coupe, the revived GTO appeared in 2003 as a show car at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show and Detroit's North American International Auto Show. The unveiling took place just seven months after GM announced at the New York International Auto Show that it would bring back the GTO in the 21st century.
Like the originals, the new GTO has rear-wheel drive and a V-8 engine that is adapted from the LS1 V-8 used in base-level Chevrolet Corvettes. For GTO use, the engine has been given a high-lift camshaft and increased airflow induction, which results in greater horsepower and low-end torque than the Holden Monaro provides. A six-speed-manual gearbox and a Hydra-Matic transmission will be available, and both will work with a 3.46-1 final drive ratio.
Pontiac says the GTO will be able to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds with the six-speed manual and reach speeds as high as 160 mph. As many as 18,000 GTOs will be produced annually at GM's plant in Australia.
While developing the GTO, General Motors has shunned any sort of retro look, opting instead for a contemporary appearance that doesn't stray appreciably from the Holden Monaro. In show-car form, the GTOs were painted with special high-gloss red or yellow paint. Though it is basically a Monaro underneath, the coupe features a Pontiac signature dual-port grille. A wide, aggressive stance clearly suggests the nature of the performance coupe. Alloy wheels hold 18-inch tires.
Four adults can fit inside the GTO, which has 2+2 bucket seating. Black leather upholstery is standard, but hues that match the car's body will be available. The GTO's color-coordinated interior extends into the door panels and instrument cluster. The GTO show car seen in early 2003 featured metal pedals with black grips and a silver and black steering wheel.
A six-CD changer coupled with a premium 10-speaker sound system, cruise control, keyless entry and a multifunction drive information center are standard.
Under the Hood
A specially tuned LS1 aluminum-block 5.7-liter V-8 engine generates 350 hp at 5,200 rpm and 365 pounds-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. Two transmissions will be available: GM's 4L60-E four-speed Hydra-Matic unit or a close-ratio six-speed-manual gearbox that is also used for the Chevrolet Corvette Z06. A three-channel traction control system and a limited-slip differential are included.
Antilock brakes and three-point safety belts for all seating positions are standard.