The “Endura” front fascia of the 1968 GTO may have been the most dramatic
GTO produced. The styling, options and performance got Pontiac
Motor Trend’s Car of the Year Award in 1968.
See All Facts and Figures
1964 -1970 Pontiac Tempest and GTO
Bonus – 2004-2005 Pontiac GTO Facts
Double Bonus – 1955-82 Pontiac V-8 Engines
Pontiac GTO 1964-1970 versus 2004-2006
“GTO” Does one have to say any more than that to evoke images of power and performance in the muscle car era? Whatever you brand loyalty, you cannot say that the GTO was not the icon of the mid-size performance car of the 1964-1970 period. Not only did Pontiac define what we later came to call the muscle car, but during the initial period of that time – on the street – Ram Air GTOs were a force to be reckoned with.
But consider Pontiac’s dilemma in 1964. As the performance brand designee for GM, suddenly NASCAR and professional drag racing was cut off by a GM “no racing” edict. And GM was so serious that they pulled the rug on privateers and other previously supported organizations. John DeLorean, Pontiac’s General Manager, had to come up with something to energize the brand without incurring the wrath of management.
He and Jim Wangers, the head of marketing for Pontiac’s Ad agency had enough savvy to know that the emerging “youth market” needed to be promoted to, and while the Grand Prix and Catalina could be had with the HO 421 powerplant, it was just too expensive for the market they wanted to target. The new mid-size Tempest had been in 1961 launched and was selling well to younger audiences – especially the 326 CID V-8 version. With the new mid-size arriving, the stage was set for an opportunity to add some zest to the the new car.
But the 326 CID, while perky wouldn’t deliver the power they envisioned without modifications that would not make the car “streetable”. The venerable 389 CID V-8 was tried and true and in “Trophy” form was perfect for the job, but . . . GM, once again, had decreed that cubic inches in the mid-size car could not exceed 350 CID (don’t ask, it was bureaucracy at work). After some head scratching, DeLorean and Wangers figured out an answer – they made the engine an option not a model . . . and the rest is history!
We know the original is a legend. Bob Lutz and Pontiac tried to recapture that flame in 2004. Did they? Lots of opinions abound. Click the box below to find out what we think.
Selling the Pontiac GTO
Pontiac realized that to sell to the youth market, big inch full-size lightweight Catalinas running in Super Stock weren’t going to send young buyers to the showroom. Thus various dealers were recruited to campaign GTOs in drag racing in the stock classes. Some of these cars were stripped out, lightweight versions, but as the NHRA and AHRA caught on, they returned to very well tuned versions of the GTO.
By 1965, Pontiac used its expertise gleaned from professional racing to offer “Ram Air” versions of the 400 CID V-8 that made impressive horsepower.
Check out this weekend warrior 1967 Ram Air GTO campaigned by Cars Magazine Editor Marty Schorr – “King of the Road“. It shows what a super-tuned ram air GTO could do.
A Road Test of the 1967
Pontiac Ram Air GTO
From 1964 through 1969 GM limited their mid-sized muscle to 400 CID, but after that anything goes. In 1967, on pressure from Chevrolet and its Corvette, multiple carburetors were also banned. Surprisingly, the new Rochester Quadra-Jet 4-barrel seemed to flow up to 800 CFM and did not limit performance. Pontiac once again used its early 50s racing experience to develop the “Ram Air 400” into a powerhouse.
In this October 1967 issue of Car Life magazine, they tested the Ram Air GTO and came back with some impressive numbers.
Notable in their evaluation of the car were these points:
Looks: “. . . the car is attractively styled, luxuriously appointed . . .”
Interior. “GTO bucket seats are among the most attractive found . . .”
Handling: “Ride and handling are best described as firm and stable . . .”
Acceleration: ” . . . provided a level of acceleration beyond belief”.
Don’t forget to get more details on the 1967 Pontiac GTO from the October issue of Car Life Magazine HERE.
Ronny and the Daytonas
Song: “Little GTO”
“Three Dueces and a 4-speed and a 389”
Ronny & the Daytonas were an American surf rock group of the early 1960s, whose members included John “Bucky” Wilkin AKA, Ronny Dayton (songwriting, guitar, vocals), Paul Jensen (vocals, guitar), Thomas Ramey (bass, guitar), Lynn Williams (drums), and Lee Kraft (guitar), with contributions from others such as Larry Butler (organ), Ronny Clark (studio guitarist), and Buzz Cason.
Their 1964 debut single “GTO” reached No. 4 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.
Hear –> “Little GTO“
of the 1964-1970 GTO
Ford submitted these specifications to the American Automobile Manufacturers Association who placed them is research files that were retrievable in paper. We have captured those for the 1964-1970 years.
(A typical cover sheet and a subsequent page are shown at right).
You can see and download these accurate technical descriptions:
- 1964 Pontiac Tempest-GTO AAMA Specifications Sheets
- 1965 Pontiac Tempest-GTO AAMA Specifications Sheets
- 1966 Pontiac Tempest-GTO AAMA Specifications Sheets
- 1967 Pontiac Tempest-GTO AAMA Specifications Sheets
- 1968 Pontiac Tempest-GTO AAMA Specifications Sheets
- 1969 Pontiac Tempest-GTO AAMA Specifications Sheets
- 1970 Pontiac Tempest-GTO AAMA Specifications Sheets