In terms of its innovative styling and performance, the 1968 GTO was a tough act to follow. The most impressive and well-received of these styling cues came in the form of the "Endura" front bumper.
Endura is a flexible Space Age material with the "supernatural" capability to absorb low-speed, front-end impacts and miraculously return to its original shape. It literally allowed the vehicle to rebound somewhat from the object it encountered. This was a dramatic improvement over the easily dented chrome front bumpers of previous years. To make the styling even more desirable, the material was painted to match the body itself (at least in theory), thus providing an overall chic look for the newest A-body to wear the GTO nameplate.
Needless to say, the Endura bumper was a runaway hit. TV commercials showed people beating on the front bumper with crowbars and newscasters bouncing GTOs off of poles. Even Motor Trend took notice, naming the GTO its 1968 Car of the Year. But who was to say back in 1967, whether this body-painted rubber front bumper would revolutionize the industry or merely go the way of the Edsel. Well, Pontiac was hedging its bets.
Just to be safe, PMD still offered a chrome front bumper as a delete-option alternative to the Endura piece. The irony is that today these chrome bumper Goats are about as rare as hen's teeth. It seemed that nobody wanted chrome when Endura could be had. But we found one.
So here it is in living color, a rarely seen 1968 GTO with a chrome bumper. This Solar Red, Cordova-topped factory freak is owned by David Cumley of Morgantown, W.Va. You may think that the chrome bumper cars were so rare that they all may have been strippers from the factory. Let's face it, Pontiac wanted to push the Endura GTOs, right? Well, maybe not.
This GTO has the makings of a special order machine. It has the 400 HO powerplant that is backed by the optional 4-speed transmission and a 3.55 Safe-T-Track rear. Creature comforts include Rally Gauges, a pushbutton AM radio, tinted windshield and an 8-track player. Now here's the kicker. According to the owner, this GTO has just 3,315 original miles on the odometer. How's that for rare?
Of the 87,684 models sold in 1968, only 2,108 were clad with the chrome bumper up front. Popular or not, they are an interesting footnote to GTO history and one that we remember in these pages.