Gran Turismo Omologato (GTO), a luxurious automobile by Pontiac, dates among the first and best muscle cars to be engineered and sold in the 60s. GTO ranked among the most luxurious brands in the market back then. With highly performing parts like front disc brakes, power steering, and T-Handle shifter, this model had all the higher-end features expected in a costlier machine. What's more, GTO was well-equipped with the Ram Air III engine, a positraction, rear-deck spoiler, and blackout grille. It awestruck the muscle car industry and quickly earned a reputable brand name among consumers. With such a grand entrance, consumers anticipated lots of things from the manufacturer. Unfortunately, the project was short-lived, which raised countless questions like “Why Did Pontiac Stop designing The GTO?"
If you're interested in learning more, keep reading!
Pontiac GTO underwent multiple changes and upgrades but only lasted 5 generations. All these changes were aimed at responding to consumers’ demands and adapting to the ever-changing technology in the industry. Let’s take a moment to understand about these generations:
1st Gen (1964 - 1967)
The first Pontiac GTO had wider wheels, stiffler springs, 4-barrel carburetor, hood scoops, dual exhaust pipes, 3-speed manual transmission, among many other features. The vehicle could run from 0-100 km in 1.115 hours with 122mph as the highest speed. Consumers complained of poor drum brakes and demanded the need for power steering. With the requests, Pontiac was quick to make some tweaks to the car’s overall styling and engine performance. The car could now offer 335 horsepower. By 1967, GTO had an improved styling and increased engine power of 400 CI engines.
2nd Gen (1968 - 1972)
GTO experienced a complete makeover in this generation. For instance, its elegant A-body construction now boasted semi-fastback styling. The manufacturer also shortened its wheelbase by reducing the overall length. With 15 more horsepower capacity, this 2nd generation GTO had better performance and newer design changes that increased its demand and sales By mid-1968, the car was already offering a Ram Air II package that included the 041 cams. But that was not all; 1969 saw this model upgrading to better taillights and grille. All these changes gave the vehicle a competitive advantage in the automobile industry. Consumers appreciated its upgraded suspension, quad headlamps, and elegant body lines. To gain a more solid brand name, the 1971 GTO experienced more styling changes. However, the no-lead gasoline policy significantly reduced the vehicle's compression ratios and slowed the sales ratios. Later that year, Pontiac removed GTO from the stand-alone lineup but did not offer any changes. That was the first major signal that customers’ appeal on GTO was reducing.
3rd Gen (1973)
GTO’s 3rd generation model was shorter-lived, lasting for only one year (1973). The manufacturer did not make many upgrades in the 1972’s. Unlike the past gen models, the 1973 machine had a 2-door coupe featuring the "Colonnade" styling. The minor hood change was the placing of the Aeronautics ducts at the center position. By this time, the federal laws demanded all car manufacturers include high-impact bumpers. Pontiac was forced to remove its Endura bumper and install chrome bumpers. Regarding performance, GTO’s speed was exceptionally well thanks to the new suspension geometry. There was also an increased spring stiffness and an anti-roll bar thickness. Its standard 400 CI 8-cylinder engine had 230 horsepower. Sadly the 455 engine did not appear in the 3rd gen and as a result, Pontiac did not generate a higher profit margin. Instead, the manufacturer only sold 4,262 GTOs.
4th Gen (1974)
The 4th gen GTO was also short-lived. The manufacturer shifted to an X-body and the LeMans GTO was no longer offered. Consumers saw a more compact model with only 350 CI 8-cylinder engine and a lowered horsepower. GTO was lighter and could run from 0-60 mph in only 9.3 secs. The only notable inclusions to the automobile were the Rally II wheels, blackout grille, and twin sport mirrors. Also, the F41 suspension guaranteed drivers a more excellent handling. The 1974 model sold more than 1973’s. However, the increased sales could still not save Pontiac from the reduced profit margin.
5th Gen (2004 - 2006)
To regain its brand name, Pontiac did all it could to have a comeback. GM, through Pontiac, decided to revive the GTO but did not work from scratch. The manufacturer now converted Holden Monaro into a new GTO. It also tried to redesign the 2004’s model to mimic the 1964's exhaust sound. These efforts raised a cry from consumers who felt GTO was losing its authentic look. The newly redesigned vehicle was now featuring an LS1 engine with 350 horsepower. But despite the added power, GTO could still not meet the consumers’ expectations. And so, Pontiac only sold 13,600 GTOs in 2004. The 2005’s had very minimal improvements. Pontiac made minor changes to the split tailpipes, brake upgrades, and hood scoops. Though these changes increased the vehicle’s overall performance, the sales continued decreasing. By 2006, GTO still saw minor changes and Pontiac stopped designing more numbers. And that was the end!
In summary: The 5 major reasons why GM stopped making the Pontiac GTO brand were:
- Pontiac was becoming more and more unprofitable in its sale.
- Pontiac was in a severe financial position since GM was already bankruptcy
- GM employees were exhibiting a ditch attitude in saving the brand since their redesign efforts(from the first to the fifth generation) bore no fruits
- The vehicle was experiencing a significant aesthetic decline, making it to lose its authentic taste and looks
- Consumers complained that GTO lacked safety features and arguably, GM did not show any willingness to fix the issues.
Pontiac GTO remains a favorite among many muscle car enthusiasts. The power-packed horsepower and elegant striking style is undeniable. But despite its flaws and flops, the vehicle still outperforms many of its competitors. While many are curious if Pontiac GTO will ever come back to the market, we’re almost sure that the 5th gen GTO was Pontaic’s last attempt to design the vehicle. And like many other brands, Pontiac GTO seems to be a past that is unlikely to resurrect.
Written by Benjamin Smith
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