1965 Pontiac GTO
Born in October 1963 as a $295 option package, the Pontiac
GTO put a 389-cubic-inch V8 in a Pontiac Tempest/LeMans body, and is considered
to be the first factory-built "Muscle Car." The GTO was produced
from 1964 through 1974, when high insurance rates and emmisions regulations
forced the dropping of its legendary horsepower down to a meager 200 h.p.
John Z. DeLorean, then a Pontiac chief engineer, gave the
GTO its name by appropriating the Italian racing designation Gran Turisimo
Omologato, a name associated with Ferrari. Pontiac expected to sell 5,000
1964 GTOs, but demand skyrocketed and GM built 32,540. Sales reached a high
of 96,946 GTOs in 1966.
Starting in 1966 the GTO went from being a package option
to its own model and remained that way until 1971. In 1970 the GTO underwent
a major design change that stayed with until 1973 when the front end was
changed due to government safety regs concerning bumpers. In 1972, due to
declining sales, the GTO reverted back to being an option package on the
LeMans and Lemans Sport, costing just $353.88.
Many critics said, "Everything wrong with the '64 was
fixed in 1965," which meant more horsepower (360) and a better suspension.
This was the first year the trademark Pontiac stacked headlights appeared
on the GTO, as did the prominent (non-functional) hood scoop and styled
steel Rally wheels. Sales rose to more than 75,000, as Pontiac GTO was named
"Motor Trend" magazine "Car Of The Year."
While everyone else scrambled to market GTO clones, the mildly
restyled '65 GTO was an even bigger hit than the '64 model. Even though
there was a UAW strike at the start of the model year, 75,352 GTOs were
sold in 1965.
The song "Little GTO" came out shortly after the
car and spent 17 weeks on the pop charts, rising as high as No. 4. More
than a million singles and 500,000 albums sold. It was recorded by a group
of Nashville session musicians under the name Ronnie and the Daytonas:
"Little GTO, you're really lookin' fine.
Three deuces and a four-speed and a 389. Listen to her tachin' up now, listen
to her whine. C'mon and turn it on, wind it up, blow it out GTO."
Improved camshafts and intake manifolds boosted horsepower
ratings to 335 for the four-barrel-equipped 389 and 360 for the Tri-Power-topped
engine. A big boost to the rapidly growing GTO legend was the August 1965
release of an over-the-counter dealer- or customer-installed cold air induction
kit for Tri-Power cars. The kit made the hood scoop functional and gave
birth to Ram Air. The Ram Air package continued as a dealer-installed option
in 1966. A few factory-built Ram Air GTOs were built and known as the XS
package (after the engine block code).
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