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1964 Pontiac GTO

The Pontiac division of GM made the GTO from 1964 until 1974. This car is legendary. It wasn’t the first muscle car, but it soon became the one other manufacturers wanted to be like. The name is from an Italian acronym for Gran Turismo Omologated or the Grand Touring class. From ’64 until ’73, this model was similar to the Pontiac Tempest and LeMans. For the last model year, it was based on the Pontiac Ventura as a power option. From 2004 until 2006 GM subsidiary Holden of Australia built  a GTO left-hand drive based on the Holden Monaro for domestic use.

Pontiac GTO 1964

© Randomshots | Dreamstime.com 1964 Pontiac GTO

 In 1964, GM issued an edict banning all its divisions from participating in auto racing. This was a problem for Pontiac since it heavily relied on the racecar circuits for advertising and promotion of its products. The GTO violated this new policy, but a loophole existed, and Pontiac offered the car as a power option package for the Tempest. Pontiac got approval to build a maximum of 5,000 units with management insisting there was no market out there for another muscle car.

When the GTO option package became available, it was either a two-door coupe, a hard-top, or a convertible. The basic option has a Carter four-barrel AFB carburetor on a 389-cubic-inch engine rated at 325hp (242 kW) at 4800 rpm. The engine powered a basic three-speed, floor-mounted standard transmission with a Hurst shift kit. On the basic engine, you might choose a two-speed automatic or maybe kick it up a notch with the four-speed manual Super Turbine 300 or kick it up another notch with the tri-power carburetors, three Rochester 2G carbs.

Included as standard equipment on all option packages available were duel exhaust, seven-blade fan clutch, valve covers, and air cleaner, both chrome. All GTO models came with heavy-duty springs, sway bar, and wide red line tires.  All the usual options  were available for the interior, including a dash-mounted tach. The exterior came with twin hood scoops and the GTO badges. The unseen options were metallic drum brakes, limited-slip differential, heavy-duty cooling, with a ride and handling package also available. Using the highest power option package, the GTO would do 0-60 in 6.6 seconds reaching 97 miles per hour and 14.8 seconds in the standing quarter-mile.

Pontiac GTO engine 1960's

© Kasiden | Dreamstime.com 1960s Pontiac GTO engine

There was an aftermarket Bobcat power kit available for all Pontiacs with the 389 engine. The kit included pieces to change the distributor spark advance to 34-36 degrees, a thinner copper head gasket for increased compression, intake manifold gaskets for cooling the carb, larger carburetor jets, and locking rocker arm nuts to keep the hydraulic lifters at their maximum adjustment. This kit was available through the mail and, if properly installed, would increase the rating from 348hp (260 kW) to 398hp making a high-octane fuel necessary to avoid valve ping.

If power was your desire, you could take a second step. You could blueprint this version, that is, remove the heads and have them machined to meet precisely the engineers’ blueprint specifications.


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