Options

Here’s where Pontiac really excels in the personal car field. The company has gone all-out during the past several years to make a car available for every buyer. Even the trailer folks are catered to, with special towing and braking packages, etc.

Suspension options for the GTO are rather limited, since the car is already well set-up. However, heavy-duty shocks may be purchased. Aluminum front drums and metallic brakes have been mentioned. Special rally wheels are a new twist, made of stamped-steel and vented for brake cooling. They’re nutty.

Powertrain options have been covered, as have engine goodies. Inside, there are a number of things the average good guy would probably want. The full instrument panel is a must. This consists of an excellent electric tachometer with tattle-tale red line, speedo, ammeter, and oil and temperature gages. All these are set in a wood dash insert. A three-spoke dished steering wheel is optional, with a simulated wood plastic rim. Incidentally, the spokes in this wheel have been specifically designed so that all instruments can be read between the spokes—thoughtful, and necessary for a car used in extended competition such as rallies.

And there are added things, like bucket seats with electric adjustment, center consoles, tonneau covers, electric antennae, etc. There’s also a special Bobcat Kit for the engine from Royal Pontiac, which we’ll recap next month. You can get special paint direct from the factory, too, if you order it. There are three basic special equipment forms that pertain to Pontiac, colored red, blue, and green. The red and blue ones apply to the GTO. Check with your dealer for these forms, and look through the GTO brochures, which also contain much of this information.

Driving

Generally speaking, driving this car was a new experience for us. Some of the fellows had driven or owned Pontiacs, but none with all the special equipment this one had.

The first time out to San Fernando dragstrip, a good stiff headwind was blowing and the best performances were in the very low 90s and high 15s. This was in strictly street condition, a condition we maintained throughout the test—carb cleaners on, ignition normal, suspension untouched, etc.

Next we went down to the beautiful new Carlsbad strip, where Jim Nelson let us wail away by ourselves one Saturday. After we made a few runs right on 100 with a best e.t. of 14.86, Nelson couldn’t stand it any longer and came boiling out of the tower to beg a ride. He cranked a best time of 101 mph in 14.65—this still in street trim. We went back to Carlsbad the next weekend after adding Jardine three-port headers installed by Jerry Jardine and some 8.50 M&H cheater slicks. Running 26 pounds of air in the tires and uncorked, speed was up to 102 mph and the e.t. dropped clear to 13.77! Keep in mind that no special tuning had been done on the car, either.

A couple of pointers on this particular car/ engine combination. The hydraulics tend to pump up at about 5,500. If you come off the line at 5 grand, shift to Second at 5,100 and the next two gears at 5,200 for the best results. Of course, these figures can change from strip to strip and between individual cars. We point this out to show the car is getting its best performance below the apparent red line. If you pump the lifters, you can plan on losing at least a half-second.

Nearly everybody dug the handling of this car, even the super-boss brakes. We liked the firm ride, but would opine that things get cramped for us big guys in the back seat. We got about 13 mpg around town, which is good for a Tripower set-up. On the single carb and with the 3.90s in the rear, the little bear would sing along at 92 mph. Then you mashed harder and stuff began happening.

We tried lots of very high-speed panic stops in rapid succession with not a sign of brake fade. But, man, those drums and wheels would blister your hand. The power steering was great after we got use to it, but most of the fellas would prefer the quick-ratio manual steering. Everybody liked the styling, even the girls, who usually classify things as cute or awful. Personally, the only changes we’d make are the addition of more traction at the rear, possibly street slicks (for dry weather, of course), and possibly a flat-tappet cam to get more revs. As a total driving impression, handling the GTO is best described as wild!