All GTOs in this model year...
All GTOs in this model year received the vented NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautic) hood. Many call it the NASA hood, which is incorrect. Even Pontiac literature from back in the day made that error.
Relying upon a Pontiac club and its members to help you find and restore the Pontiac you desire can be a rich and rewarding experience. That’s what Steve Laughlin, a high school teacher in Audubon, New Jersey, learned when he embraced the help of the GTO Association of America (GTOAA) to help him from purchase to podium finish on his ’73 GTO Sports Coupe.
“I joined the Delaware Valley Old Goat Club chapter of the GTOAA in 1994,” Laughlin recalls. “Like many GTOAA members, I looked forward to receiving the club’s The Legend monthly magazine. In addition to reading about other members’ GTOs, I made it a point to review its classified section for another GTO to add to my herd. Specifically, I had my heart set on a ’73 four-speed GTO, since I’m partial to both ’73-’77 A-bodies and sticks.”
In 1999, Laughlin spotted an advertisement in The Legend for what he was looking for. It read: “’73 GTO, PHS documented, 4-speed, buckets, console, gauges, A/C, vinyl top, blue ext., blue int. Together but needs some work. Lots of extra parts. $2,100 OBO.”
For ’73, the GTO was available...
For ’73, the GTO was available as an option on the LeMans coupe or Sport Coupe, and shared its exterior styling. The blue GTO decals on the fenders and trunk lid were custom made by Jim Osborne Reproductions and match the color of the interior and Cordova top. The GTO’s current owner added the Hurst emblem.
“I called the owner, GTOAA member John Maldari, and arranged the purchase after he sent me photographs of the car and we discussed its condition in detail,” Laughlin says. “The Goat was in rough shape, but I bought it because it was close enough that I could get it without going cross-country. From the start, I didn’t like its Admiralty Blue factory color, but I loved its code-251 Blue interior. In my opinion, the color scheme didn’t have enough contrast to accentuate the interior color, and I knew even before I bought it that I’d change the exterior color to Cameo White.”
Model-year ’73 couldn’t be described as stellar for the GTO marketing-wise. Pontiac’s marketing and sales efforts were focused on introducing the all-new ’73 LeMans (the first major A-body restyle since the ’68), the new European-inspired Grand Am, and the redesigned Grand Prix. With the musclecar era breathing its last breaths, the GTO found itself quickly heading for extinction. Gone were the major marketing campaigns for the GTO—no pop songs, no national sweepstakes giveaways, little to no print advertisements, and not even a TV commercial. In fact, there isn’t a photo of it in Pontiac’s full-line or LeMans Sports Coupe dealer brochures. To find official mention of it in them, you’d have to read carefully for one sentence: “Even our legendary GTO is available as an option.”
Luckily, the GTO option for ’73 carried on the spirit of the Great One even if it didn’t carry over its look. Listed as RPO-code W62 ($354), it added heavy-duty three-speed floor shift, 400 four-barrel V-8, G60-15 blackwall tires, dual exhaust with chrome extensions, blacked-out grille, hoodscoop, firm shocks, and heavy-duty large front and rear stabilizer bars to the LeMans coupe or sport coupe. A total of 4,806 of them were built—4,312 Sport Coupes and 494 coupes.
Laughlin’s GTO was built at Pontiac’s Atlanta, Georgia, factory early in the model year—October 5, 1972—and shipped to Pellies Pontiac in Highland Falls, New York. It included a wide selection of available extra-cost options, including power steering, brakes, and door locks; Rally Gauge cluster and tach; air conditioning; Sport [trim], and more. Its MSRP was $4,771.60.
“The car sat for the first year [I had it] while I was doing other projects,” Laughlin says. “I did all the mechanical work to it first. I changed the engine and trans from the 350 and Saginaw three-speed manual that were in it to a correct code-WK 400 block with 4X heads, which I bought fully assembled, and a Muncie M20 wide-ratio four-speed from a ’70 Olds Rallye 350, which I owned at the time. I sourced and purchased the correct shifter, installed new exhaust, replaced the gas tank, and added a set of Honeycomb wheels (now riding on BFG 245/60R15 and 255/60R15 rubber) that were included with the extra parts that came with the car. I restored the suspension and installed new rubber bushings, and left the 3.23 rear axle stock.”