So glad I purchased a GTO when they were available
May 15, 2018
Back in 2005 I never thought I would purchase a $35,000 car, but the Pontiac GTO had everything I was looking for in a sporty car: Excellent styling, rear wheel drive, large powerful V8 engine, solid transmission, and a stiff suspension. I am SO glad I bought it when I did, rather than waiting for the "new" Camaro to debut. The Camaro was a HUGE disappointment, with its high belt-line (meaning much smaller windows that are too high to comfortably rest your arm on the window sill while driving!), poor visibility, and cheap interior plastics. In contrast, the GTO has large windows, very nice soft plastics in the interior and very nice suede fabric on the door panels. The seats provide excellent support. While the GTO is low to the ground (it IS a sport car, after all), it is not difficult to get into and out of as many sporty cars are. And you do not feel like you are sitting in a "bucket" that you need to climb out of, as is the case with most unibody constructed cars.
The LS2 6.0L V8 engine is awesome, with plenty of power in reserve at all times. Yes, premium fuel is recommended, but at least the engine has no gimmicks like a turbo that needs to be cooled down after you stop, before you turn the engine off! The automatic transmission is also a very strong 4-speed (including overdrive) model, rather than those newer 6-, 7-, and 8-speed automatics that cannot decide what gear to be in when you are trying to accelerate quickly or climb the mountains!
The steering and suspension are very tight, with no play whatsoever.
Problems? The throttle-body unit had to be replaced, and would have been under warranty if I had driven it more in the first 3 years (warranty period). The radiator sprung a leak after 120,000 miles, and a small plastic heater valve developed a crack at 146,000 miles, causing all coolant to drain out; then the replacement part also cracked within 3 weeks! But that has been it.
One interior mistake was the standard power seats. When you are in a hurry to get into or out of the back seat, you need to press a button and hold it to move the seat forward to give enough space to climb in and out of the back. This mechanism has broken on BOTH of my front seats; the passenger seat now cannot move at all; it cannot even recline. I have not had it fixed because the estimate for parts and labor was close to $1100!
Speaking of the back seat, you would be hard-pressed to find a two-door car with as roomy a back seat as this one. Back seat passengers have a tremendous amount of room.
Because of the different rear-impact standards in the USA from Australia (where the GTO was made), the gasoline tank had to be relocated for the US market to behind the back seat. The result is that the trunk is quite small. I have not had a problem with it, but that's because I travel alone.
My GTO has 147,000 miles now and is still on the original set of brakes!
I am upset that this vehicle is nearing the end of its reliable life (how much longer can the water pump, fuel pump, hoses, etc last before I get stranded?) because there is really nothing else to replace it at a reasonable price. The Camaro design is poor (a shame because I usually love the feel and characteristics of GM cars), and I don't trust Ford (Mustang) or Chrysler (Dodge Challenger) reliability; I have heard of too many problems with them (Challenger = 8-speed automatic transmission.... ridiculous!). And I don't want to buy any technology that is older than this GTO. I don't mind continuing to pay for repairs, since I still love this car, but I just don't want to get stranded in some remote unfamiliar area, away from repair shops I trust. I wonder about parts availability in the future too, since it is a Pontiac, and there were so few GTO's built during its 3-year run (I believe it was limited to 18,000 per year?).