Welcome to month three of High Performance Pontiac’s GTO 50th Anniversary celebration. We kicked off this yearlong GTO anthology in our Jan. ’14 issue with a look at the ’64 GTO and how it was brought to market; we followed it with a shout out to the iconic ’65 GTO last month. This month, it’s time for the ’66 GTO to take center stage on our pages.
Here are some quick facts. The Goat’s third model year was its best selling in history, the first factory ram-air package was introduced, and the Monkeemobile became the most famous GTO of the year. For those who were there firsthand -- Pontiac engineers Bill Collins, Russ Gee, and Herb Adams; and Pontiac marketing maestro Jim Wangers -- it was the best of times, and they cherish their memories of the ’66 GTO to this day.
We reached out to our fans on Facebook (you can be one too, at www.facebook.com/highperformancepontiac) to tell us their fondest memories of the GTO. Here are some of their replies:
- When I was a little kid ... I used to like Z28s. My brother took me for a ride in his very fast ’67 GTO. I happened to see a Z28 and said, “There is my favorite car! Those are so cool!” My brother replied, “Let’s see how cool it is.” He proceeded to blow the Z28’s doors off with ease. I was a devoted GTO fan from that point forward. I have owned three in my lifetime and I am currently restoring a ’68. -- Pat PJ Hunkins
- My brother’s mate had a ’66 Goat, bronze, only a 4-bbl auto, but oh my, what a beast for its time. That kicked me off on the Pontiac road. [I] have had two ’66s now, [and] presently have a ’66 LeMans convertible. Living the dream! -- Paul Power
- My parents bought a ’69 GTO in 1970. I learned to drive in it, and the day I turned 16 in 1977, I begged my mom to let me drive to my girlfriend’s house … she reluctantly let me take it out. I was coming home late at night and it was raining, so I decided to try some maneuvers … the [GTO] ended up in the ditch but with minimal damage. I managed to get [it] out of the ditch and drove home well after midnight. Quietly parking in the garage, I snuck down the hall to my room. I laid in bed staring at the ceiling until I couldn’t take the guilt any longer. I walked into mom’s room, woke her, and told her, “Mom, I wrecked your car.” “Are you OK?” she asked. “Yes,” I responded. She said, “Go to bed.” That [GTO] is still in my garage today. -- Dave Davis
- I wasn’t fortunate enough to be around when the GTO rolled out, but I can remember my dad telling me stories of his friend who had a GTO back in the ’60s. Fortunately, Pontiac introduced a new GTO to a new generation, so 40 years later I was able to get an ’04 GTO. Thank you GTO, for allowing me the opportunity to make a few stories of my own. -- Mike Contoni
- My first car was a ’64 GTO ragtop -- red, white top, white interior, Tri-Power, four-speed, Posi, power windows and top, remote mirror, tach, dealer add-on FM radio -- [that I bought] in 1971 for $350. -- Bill Purkhiser
- I have 2 GTOs -- a ’72 and ’04. I love them both very much. -- Richard L. Schiller
- I bought my first GTO on Sept 25, 1979. [I] sold it reluctantly in 1991. I bought another GTO in May 2011. [It’s an] ’05 with the rare Midnight Blue Metallic [exterior], Sport Appearance Package (SAP) option, six-speed manual, and LS2. -- Gary Lucas
- I was just a little guy, but I remember Dad’s ’65 GTO running 0.2 second off the national record in B/SA, runner-up in Top Stock Eliminator (lost to Al Olster’s A/SA Mopar Hemi), and class winner all in the same day … My first car was Dad’s hand-me-down ’68 GTO 400 H.O. It ruled the streets in the small town I’m from, and yes, if I could have any car back that I sold over the years, it would be this one. -- Bill Nas
- In high school my auto-tech-class teacher had the students write a report and present a slide show. I looked at all the muscle cars and common hot rods, and the GTO and LeMans sucked me in. The looks. The style. The power, and everything else just screams muscle car. I got an A-plus and extra credit for being the only person in the class who did the report. My favorite year [GTO] is the ’66. I’ve been dying to find one to drive daily and restore someday. I’m only 22, so there is plenty of time. -- Dustin Woodworth
- I remember when my cousin Carl bought his very first new car. It was the ’65 GTO ragtop. It was equipped with a four-barrel carb and four-speed transmission … He said he was sorry that he didn’t order the Tri-Power setup and close-ratio tranny. I asked him if there was anything else he would have ordered, and he said a 3.90 rear. When the new models came out for ’66, that’s when I ordered mine with Tri-Power, close-ratio four-speed, and 3.90 Posi rear. I don’t know, but I think my cousin was just a bit jealous of what I bought. -- John Hotetz
- My ’68 was a reliable, trustworthy friend. Two of my children came home from the hospital in it. I raced it, broke it, fixed it, and did it all again. I had to part with it after 300,000 miles. That day I cried in it. -- John “Crawdaddy” Crawford
- It was 1968. My dad had just passed away; I was 17. My mom said she would help me get a car, and I had my eye on a ’64 GTO at the dealer. It was love. The car was rough, but in 1968 if you had a GTO in high school, there was nothing better. The day after I bought it, I looked out the window at it and realized something was desperately wrong. The car had been wrecked and the dealer welded the front half of one to the back half of another. The car never ran right -- the dealer had taken us to the cleaners. In March 2005, I decided the time had come for me to get the GTO I never really had. I found a numbers- matching ’64 convertible 1,200 miles from me. I bought it after seeing only a five-minute video of the car. I signed the papers at 9:30 a.m. At around 5 p.m. that night, John DeLorean died. It had to be a sign, right? I had the car shipped to my home. It was the car I had always wanted. [I] still have it and will always keep it. I waited a long time for this one. -- Tom Maddox