The word is out and it's spreading like wildfire. The long-awaited return of the legendary GTO to the Pontiac lineup has sparked conversation all over the world. It seems that the opinions about this landmark announcement are as varied as the number of people we've interviewed. In Part II, we'll hear the comments of some prominent names in the Pontiac hobby as well as someone who has made a career out of being a hard-core Pontiac fan, a Senior Vice President at Pontiac's advertising agency.
Arnie "The Farmer" Beswick
An icon of Pontiac drag racing, having run a long line of Stock, Super Stock, AFX, Pro Stock and Funny Cars since 1958. Today, he races a low 7-second 1964 GTO known as Tameless Tiger and appears at races and shows all over the U.S. and Canada. If Pontiac Drag Racing has a patron saint, it's The Farmer."I'm very, very excited to say the least. We now have a car for which we can use the name GTO. This is a big plus in my book. Of course, the fact that it will be a high-performance rear wheel drive platform is another."Yes, there are some negatives in my thinking as well, but I guess we'll take what we can get at this point, rather than lose all our rear wheel drive platforms as we thought we would with the loss of the Firebird. There were quite a few of us looking down our noses and saying, 'What the hell is GM's mentality and what has happened up there?' I've said that many a time."Now that we have Mr. Lutz and we have this GTO coming in, I'm hoping it's the start of a whole new era with GM. If we can get things turned back to where we have car people running that company, like we had in the '50s and '60s, we're gonna have the whole car world talking big time. "I would like to see a little more Pontiac identity in this GTO. Naturally, if I had my choice, I'd like to have a motor that was a pure Pontiac. Not necessarily the old Pontiac V8; there's just too much new technology out there. But I'd like to have something that we don't need to share with the rest of the GM Divisions. Pontiac is where it is today because of so many individual, beautiful traits. Whether it was styling or performance, it was and is on the cutting edge. They were the cars that everyone who appreciated a beautiful car idolized. I would love to see the GTO initiate a rebirth of that era."I believe that if they don't tie Mr. Lutz's hands, we'll see that. It's not going to happen overnight, but if they just let his wheels turn, the sky's the limit to what we could have. My fingers are crossed for that to happen and I see great things coming down the pike. I'll be disappointed if they tie Mr. Lutz's hands like everybody else--they just didn't have car people in GM management. That's been the whole problem for the last 15 or 20 years."When asked whether there was any possibility of Arnie Beswick running a 2004 Tameless Tiger GTO he simply replied, "You better believe it!"
Sr. VP, Pontiac Regional Creative Director, D'Arcy. Bob started with D'Arcy, Pontiac's national advertising agency, shortly after the introduction of the Fiero in 1984. Since then, Bob has been a key player in many of the performance, heritage and motorsports projects and events for Pontiac, including NASCAR, IMSA and NHRA. He is still seeking the perfect '61 Ventura coupe project to join his '87 Firebird Formula convertible."GTO vs. GTO, 40 years after? The toughest competition the new Pontiac GTO will face is not from another car, but from its own history. "Pontiac killed the GTO rather than dishonor it with a forced march through the polyester performance trials of the '70s. And tempting as it may have been since, Pontiac managed to resist calls for a GTO revival until the right car was here. Now, a RWD 300+ hp V8 coupe of shattering performance is nigh upon us, and enthusiasts everywhere will want to know--is it really a GTO?"The answer will depend on recapturing the GTO's fundamental honesty. Back in the day, Pontiac had the good taste and good sense to let the GTO do the talking, rather than to pre-fabricate a gee-whiz image on its behalf. It clearly respected its customers, who returned the favor by making it an automotive icon."The new GTO will honor the legacy if we are single-minded enough to let it be a good looking, high performance car built for uncompromising enthusiasts. That is a heck of a proposition. And hopefully for our entire industry, the wave of the future."
Owner, Performance Years. One of the first aftermarket suppliers of NOS and reproduction parts for GTOs and Firebirds. Chief moderator of the Performance Years Message Boards."I've been very much behind the return of the GTO ever since Pontiac started showing the front-drive prototypes back in 1984-85. As far as I'm concerned, the return of the GTO name to the Pontiac lineup will be a huge benefit to the GTO hobby no matter what type of car the nameplate is attached to. With the GTO name back in the spotlight, the attention drawn to the new car will undoubtedly have people seeking out information about the originals and that heightened focus will definitely help the cause. The fact that Pontiac will be putting the nameplate on a high performance V8-powered, rear-drive platform will help ensure that the new GTO will live up to the heritage of the name."
Contributing Editor, HPP. One of the country's top GTO restoration experts and a GTOAA show judge. Quint has restored a number of GTOs, including a Polar White 1970 Judge."The new 2004 GTO should be a breath of fresh air, if exhaled in the right direction. The Aussie car is sure to make a kick with the market as long as Pontiac remembers to 'go home with the one who brought you to the dance' by staying true to the concept. This fragile yet famous trademark needs to be nurtured with high tech kid gloves, as well as performance, looks and retrostyling. It must not allow itself to fall to the level of the past of re-introduction name failures like the 1980s Duster and Charger from Chrysler. All indications are that the people at GM have placed the right 'car guys' on staff to insure this new platform becomes the 'correct' color--gold this time. I can only wish that if I had the ability to air my opinion to the GM brass on the 14th floor it would be this: Never let Pontiac sit in the back seat with regard to performance; the LS6 engine will fit in more than just one platform. "The boys in Dearborn have made incredible strides focusing on the retro look for the T-bird and Mustang. I can't help but drool every time I see them. Remember it takes more than just the split grille and paint to build a GTO that does justice to the original. It has to project the attitude of those who want to own and drive it and the soul of the 11 GTOs that came before it."Based on lessons learned in the past, I can see a bright future for Pontiac again, I just hope GM will remember there is no Astre, Phoenix or Aztek Club of America."
Contributing Editor, HPP. One of the country's top authorities on modifying the front-drive Grand Prix. Absolutely scary computer expertise combined with ASE-level mechanical skills. First person to put a supercharged Grand Prix GTP into the 12s."History can be very cruel sometimes. To me, this cruelty meant being born 30 some years too late to enjoy some of the finest musclecars to ever roll off Detroit's numerous assembly lines. Luckily, through, my father and I have been able to learn about some of the rich history both Pontiac and other GM divisions made in the 1960s and 1970s. However, nostalgia can never replace being there which, sadly, I wasn't."Fast forward to 2002. It appears General Motors is about to make a huge leap of faith, bringing back a nameplate some said would never return and others said could never touch the original. To this I say bravo; it must take a lot of guts to try another rear-wheel-drive V8 coupe, after just canceling the entire Firebird and Camaro lineup from the arsenal due to faltering sales figures. Now I'll let the rest of the history experts discuss the significance of this event. I'm here to add a different perspective."As one of the very few people to ever drive a left-hand drive Holden on U.S. soil, I must comment on my incredible experience. The car I had the pleasure of piloting was not a Monaro coupe, but a Commodore Sedan. When you sit in a Holden, especially an HSV Holden (Holden Special Vehicles), you immediately notice two things--the seats feel more like Recaro racing seats, and the interior is very functional and usable."This particular Commodore was a supercharged V6 (L67) variant with a 4-speed automatic transmission (4L60E), basically a rear-wheel drive version of a Grand Prix GTP. Driving impressions were incredible, and even with the V6, acceleration was brisk. Shifts were firm and precise, and the exhaust note was pleasant. Build quality was impeccable, i.e., no annoying squeaks or rattles (characteristics of an F-body) were present. It had a wonderfully tuned suspension, great for cornering with minimal road jarring. "I can only imagine the improvements Holden has made for the all-new Monaro, and how much of that will carry over to U.S. soil in the GTO. I hope that GM has the foresight to bring over all the Monaro options for the GTO including the larger wheels, brakes, and incredible seating and color choices. Will I purchase one? God willing, yes! But I only have one remaining question for the powers that be at GM ... where's the Judge? I think an LS6 would be just the right touch."
Current President of the GTO Association of America. A longtime hobbyist and owner of a '73 GTO that is driven to GTOAA and POCI events every year, regardless of where they are."The announcement by Mr. Lutz of a new Pontiac GTO is very exciting. After many failed attempts by GM to recreate the original Legend, this vehicle surely has the right combination of power and modern technology to worthily carry the GTO name. A conventional driveline with one of the most powerful engines GM has to offer will surely make this car a new legend."With the absence of a GTO for nearly 30 years, the GTO Association of America is looking forward to a renewed interest in the original 1964-74 GTOs. A new GTO cruisin' the streets will surely bring a resurgence of the originals. Many feel the GTO should remain in the past, but it is time for a new GTO for the new enthusiast. Three cheers to GM and Bob Lutz for their foresight and efforts in bringing the right car to the market."
(A view from down-under)National President, Pontiac Car Club of Australia and International Director-POCI"Strangely, for a good year before it happened, we knew something major was in the wind. I had a strong gut feeling the yet-to-be-released Holden Monaro was to become something great or greater, be it the replacement Fifth-Gen. Camaro or Firebird or a Chevelle, etc. But I really believe the GTO, if it was to make a comeback, would be nothing but the first great musclecar of the new century ... built for today's standards."In the PCCA, we have many contacts, including some insiders locally who knew bits, but it was great news when Mr. Lutz announced the GTO comeback and I'm sure nobody will be disappointed with the Coupe."Locally, I don't agree with the marketing choice of putting the GTO, as the lower grade car, to a GTS and have voiced my opinion. The GTO is The Great One. It does not deserve to be a lesser model, i.e., a GL, GT or LE or a GTS. Those initials mean bugger all."GTO stands for something great, greater than these marketing geniuses who reside down here appreciate. At least Mr. Lutz and Pontiac will get it right, thankfully."I have driven both cars and each is inspirational in its own right. The GTO locally is about AUS $73,000 drive away. That converts to around US $36,000 for a high-powered LS1 V8 with a lot of good stuff on it and engineered into it."The GTS is legendary with its LS6 V8, again with a list of available goodies both standard and available for making up a truer musclecar. It costs down here around AUS $93,000 or about US $46,000. Those prices will bear little resemblance to what the sale price could be in the U.S. Historically, with the other vehicle built in this country and exported to the U.S., Ford's Capri convertible, it was cheaper to buy in the U.S. than one mile from where it was built. Ford at the time related build numbers and LHD volume as being the reason. Who knows?"Every musclecar enthusiast will want to keep an eye out for the new USA Pontiac GTO. They are very well built (more like a BMW, some say) and go like the bat out of hell. I'm really looking forward to seeing what Pontiac's engineers put into it. We can all still have some driving excitement..."
Photography courtesy of Holden Division, General Motors
It's not known yet how much...
It's not known yet how much of the HSV aero package will be included on the Pontiac GTO, if any at all. Taillamp design is expected to carry over from Holden to Pontiac.
HSV interior accommodations...
HSV interior accommodations are luxurious and colorful, with yellow, tan and red leather available in addition to black. Specially-selected leather hides are stitched in the same pattern as HSV team driving suits. With concerns over cost, it is unlikely that this interior trim level will make it stateside. The basic layout is expected to be similar--with left-hand drive, of course.
Holden coupe profile is attractive...
Holden coupe profile is attractive and aerodynamically clean. We're betting that the GTS's 19-inch wheels and extra-large brakes won't make it stateside.
Though the GTO and top-dog...
Though the GTO and top-dog GTS look nearly identical, there are significant differences under the skin, including heavier-duty suspension, larger brakes and 19-inch wheels. The most dramatic difference is, of course, the 300 kw (405 horsepower) LS6 V8 engine which is 60 horsepower more than the GTO's 255 kw (345 horsepower) LS1.
GTO color choices in Australia...
GTO color choices in Australia run the gamut from understated to very loud. There is no word yet on the Pontiac GTO's color palette.