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Pontiac GTO & Firbird (1965-1970); Will GM Launch the Late Models New for 2017?

Updated on May 6, 2014

1963 Tempest

History of a Legend

Pontiac was created by General Motors in 1926. It was named after the great Ottawa Indian Chief named Pontiac. Chief Pontiac was geographically close to Detroit (Ohio) and had led a revolution against the British. Pontiac was indeed popular with Americans. The early Pontiac logo was a profile of Chief Pontiac; which was later changed to the Arrowhead.

Popularity took off for Pontiac with the birth of the GTO. The GTO was an upgrade to the Tempest. The Tempest was actually a Spy operation from the 1960s, and it means a violent wind. Pontiac wanted to portrait a racing image and came out with the Lemans. Neither the Lemans nor the GTO (Gran Turismo Omologato,) actually had anything to do with those european racing classes; outside of the name.

The exception being a race between Ferrari and the new GTO. The GTO actually won; with a race time so fast that it was said that a GTO couldn't actually go that fast if you pushed it off a building.

Nevertheless, a legend had been born. This Super Spy machine's 3 deuces carburetor system did make it a fierce car. It's horsepower to body weight ratio made it the most powerful stock car in 1964.

Early advertisements related the GTO to a Tiger. Depicting it as fast and furious. Newspaper reporters kept calling it "The Judge" The standard with which to compare all other cars in it's class. A saying that GM would capitalize on with the debut of the 1969 Judge model.

The Judge was a street dominator and not afraid to show it. It rumbled down the streets with dual chrome exhaust and the flashiest Orange color with funky 1960s style stripes that you ever saw.

GTO 1965 Car of The Year!

Trans Am Quiz

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More Recent Times

In more recent times the GTO has yielded to the Pontiac Firebird and Trans Am. My first Hotrod was a 1971 Pontiac Firebird. It had a 350 cubic inch engine with a shift kit automatic transmission. We put 455 heads, a 400 cam shaft, and the biggest quadra-junk carb that Mr. Boesche our auto shop teacher had ever seen. It had racing tension and was complemented with an accel dual point distributor.

A stock 1970 Trans Am with a 455 4speed would pull the front end off the ground. Mine would not; it did break it's 160 mph speedometer the fun way.

The Trans Am was featured and made popular by the late 1970s Smokey and The Bandit movies. The 1967 Firebird emblem had now made it's way into a full fledged and flamed rising Phoenix on the hood.

Pony Car Market

Today's economy can definitely support a larger Muscle car. the new Dodge Challenger is proof of that. It has seen huge success. Pontiac made the decision to push the pony car when our countries economy was good. Our youth had more money to spend than they do today. As our economy declines so does the youth dollar.

The GTO was originally a cruising machine. It had a huge trunk to put your cooler and beach gear; and the horsepower to get you there fast. Convertibles were readily available; as fun was the theme.

Pontiac had managed to turn the GTO into a cheer-leader's mobile. Something unisex; instead of racing Ferrari's, it raced Plymouth Neon's.

There is a definite market for larger muscle machines. Today's family man would like a Camaro or Mustang; however you just can't fit the family into it.

Dad's need a modern GTO. Like the 1968-1970 Dodge Chargers or Plymouth Roadrunners. We need a machine with a large enough trunk and back seat to support a family; if you need to. Something that's still got power, room-yet 2 door for style, and is available in convertible.

Classic car values are rapidly increasing. It's a better investment than real estate or gold! The market is positively booming.According to Knight Frank's Luxury Investment Index, the average collector car is up 430% in just the past 10 years! Just visit any Classic Car auction such as Barret-Jackson or Mecum and you'll see these beauties go for hundreds of Thousands of dollars.

Horse Power

OK Let's talk about horse power for a minute. The Original 389 GTO with 3 Deuces had about 355 Horses. The 400 Cubic inch Ram Air II in 1968 had about 366 horse power. The 1970 455 cubic inch Ram Air IV had about 370 HP.

I have a classic car book that was a birthday present to me back in the 1980s sometime. It has a photo of a stock 1970 Trans AM with 455 4 speed that actually lifted the front end right off the ground.

Pontiac was known not to list the real horse power. For some reason, they kept the posted horses well below actual capacity. They may have been trying to ensure that they delivered at least what they stated or perhaps they knew what the US Government was about to do.

The US Government believed this horse power to be unnecessary, and passed several laws. Under the guise of emissions and fuel conservation; they intentionally choked out these motors and cut horse power. The laws were passed around 1970, but did not take effect until 1972. If you want real power; buy 1971 and older.

Compare that to the television commercials that you hear today. They speak of cars with an amazing 200 horse power. I think it's amazing what kind of horse dung they are trying to feed us.

Pontiac Poll

Would you Like to See a New Retro Style GTO & Firebird?

See results

Only Buy Pontiac

If we are going to see GTOs and Firebirds make a come back; we need to call General Motors. We need to email them with requests. Please make sure they know that we are interested in Retro style Hot rods and not in the Trans Am's of the 2000s. I mean, yuk. What were they thinking.

There is a reason that Pontiac became successful. There is also a reason why they failed and were shut down. If General Motors was to re-release a 2017 version of Pontiac's best models; they would see sales like they have never before.

Imagine a 1969 GTO Convertible Judge in Carousel Red (Orange) with Hideaway headlights. Imagine a 1967 Red Firebird Convertible. And Imagine a Black 1979 Bandit Machine with T-Tops, all updated fresh and new for 2017.

Pontiac was GM's fastest machines. These cars had more style and flare that most on the market. Pontiac gave birth to the first Muscle car, ever (The GTO). Don't let them get away with killing our heritage.

Again, I recommend calling the company; sending an email, and not buying a GM car unless it's a Pontiac. Why should you settle for a lesser quality vehicle than GM's best line.

The GTO is a dying breed. They have been crashed in movies and rusted to death. Just like the Tiger, it's an endangered species. Don't forget to write GM, and in the meantime buy yourself a Classic GTO while there are any left.

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    • profile image

      Chris , Toronto 3 years ago

      Some of the coolest cars ever for everyday people were pontiacs!! Please build excitement like pontiac!!

    • profile image

      Tammy 3 years ago

      Would love to see Grand AM and Grand Prix come back as well

    • JosephShope profile image

      Joseph Shope 3 years ago

      GM could make it a limited Run line.

    • profile image

      nedacfilms 3 years ago

      I would actually like to see GT0 make a third comeback.... problem is that it won't be a Pontiac, as the Ponchos are done, so maybe a Chevy GTO lol?!?!

    • WrenchWench profile image

      Wrench Wench 3 years ago from Seattle

      Wow, I think I learned at least 5 new things that I never knew about Pontiac before. Thank you for writing this hub! I'll definitely have to send GM an email, cause I would love to see an actual retro style muscle car come out. It's so tiring hearing all the manufacturers say they are coming out with retro style cars, and then finding out they are really just unartistic box bodied cars with a few more lines than the cheap models.