I didn't even want another car, let alone a GTO. On that rainy Saturday in March 2008, I was paying a visit to Desantis Chevrolet in Brockton, Massachusetts, to have my '97 Cadillac Eldorado serviced. When I pulled into the dealership, however, I saw a Torrid Red '04 GTO prominently displayed on the used-car lot, wedged in between a '99 30th Anniversary Trans Am and bunch of utilitarian Chevrolet Malibus.
I asked my friend, Steve Lofgren, a salesman at the dealership, "What's up with the GTO?" He replied, "Ross, that's your car!" No matter how many times I said no, he knew I really meant yes. Unwilling to give up, he stood behind me, dangling the GTO's keys. I saw his reflection in the passenger-side window. It's not hard to guess what happened next. "Let's go put some premium fuel in it and take it for a test drive," he said.
I remember exactly how the GTO felt that afternoon. I was impressed with its responsive steering and its tight, agile suspension. Then I proceeded to test the LS1's acceleration. My Cadillac was fast, but the four-speed-automatic GTO was super-fast.
The 4L60-E shifted itself out of First gear at a mild 4,000 rpm, but the torque planted me firmly in the seat. Second gear put the rear of the car into a fish-tail maneuver. I even remember blurting out a joyful expletive as I brought the rear-wheel-drive monster back under control.
When the test drive was said and done, I traded in my Eldorado and counted myself the new proud owner of fantastic 21st century Pontiac musclecar. I don't know why it was traded back in as a lease return with 33,495 miles, but I have been happy with it ever since!
I think the aftermarket has done a fantastic job offering enhancements and performance components for the modern-muscle GTOs, and I started adding mods to my Goat within a week of buying it. First on the list was an '05 rear bumper/rear valance, followed by special-appearance package (SAP) front grilles, and then a Viper alarm/remote starter; the latter two were installed by Phil Wagner of Eastern Sound and Security (ES&S) in South Easton, Massachusetts.
My GTO's stock exhaust still had plenty of life in it, but I wanted it to announce its presence with a more aggressive sound. I had a Magnaflow after-cat exhaust system installed, including crossover; 2.5-inch, stainless-steel pipes; a single muffler; and dual 3-inch, stainless tips. Later, American Racing stainless-steel headers (1.75-inch primaries) with SLP Performance high-flow cats, MSD wires, and SLP Performance underpulleys and MAF were installed, promptly followed by a new K&N cold air induction system. The next morning, I used the remote starter to initiate the Goat's new growl, and set off the car alarms in my '00 Monte Carlo and my neighbors' two cars.
In 2009, I found an AEDC functional ram-air hood about 20 miles from my house and bought it. I then went crazy on Internet auctions and almost lost my girlfriend in the process! Among the items I bought were a set of BMW halo headlights, which I equipped with 6,000k HIDs and DEPO LED taillights. I also had a trick sound system installed, again by ES&S.
I had my GTO dyno-tuned by Slowhawk Performance in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. The result is 362 rwhp and 370 rwtq, and a best pass of 12.62 at New England Dragway. More recently, I've added a set of 17x8 TSW Jarama wheels to the GTO, which are now wrapped in 245/45ZR17 Toyo Proxes T1-R tires.
My Pontiac is a blast to drive and it turns heads wherever I go with it. I enter it in local car shows and cruise nights, and it has taken a Second and Third place trophy in its class. I also brought it to the GTO Gathering/Newport Summer Jam in Newport, Rhode Island, in 2009 and 2010. Both times it was the only '04-'06 example with a sunroof (dealer-installed).
I think I'll never be done modifying my GTO, as upgrades allow it to continue to stand out from the rest of the herd. I hope to enjoy my Pontiac for a long, long time. Thank you for letting me share my story.
My Pontiac and Me spotlights reader experiences with their own Pontiacs in their own words. To be considered for publication, submit several high-quality color photos (if digital, each photo must be larger than 1 megabyte in JPG format—no other formats, please), your own Pontiac story (typed, approximately 500 words), your name, address, and telephone number to:
High Performance Pontiac Magazine
My Pontiac and Me
c/o Christopher Phillip
9036 Brittany Way
Tampa, FL 33619
Please note: HPP pays $50 if your story is printed. A contract release and W-9 with your social security number will be required.