Classic Pontiac GTOs

The first generation Pontiac GTO was a muscle car of the 1960s and 1970s era. Although there were earlier muscle cars, the Pontiac GTO is considered by some to have started the trend with all four domestic automakers offering a variety of competing models.

All '64 GTOs were powered by a 389-cubic-inch V8 and could be had with an optional tri-power setup for a total of 348 horsepower. Transmissions were a standard three-speed manual, along with the more commonly ordered four-speed manual and a two-speed automatic. A convertible was also available.

1966 saw a complete restyle of the GTO, and the GTO’s first appearance as its own model rather than part of the Tempest line. Not much changed on the exterior of the car from ‘66-’67, but significant changes took place underneath: the 389 V8 increased in displacement to 400 cubic inches and three different single carb versions were available. The old two-speed automatic transmission was also replaced with a three-speed TH400.

The 1968 model year was a great one for the Pontiac GTO. The GM A-body platform was redesigned, and the ‘68 GTO had a sleek new shape that featured a body-colored Endura front bumper. The ‘68 GTO was awarded Motor Trend Car of the Year, and that year saw the second highest sales ever for GTO.

1969 brought on a special edition of the GTO called “The Judge” with a unique striping pattern and rear spoiler, among other sporty additions. The top-of-the-line Ram Air IV 400 was rated at 370 horsepower - although, that figure is said to be significantly underrated compared to its actual output.

The GTO continued to see significant changes in the 1970 model year, with quad headlamps and more aggressive body lines. The Judge option remained in production, with the new availability of a 455-cubic-inch engine that produced an astounding 500 foot-pounds of torque.

By 1971, the muscle car era had peaked due to increasing pressure from both insurance companies and environmental agencies. New styling included dual hood scoops directly over the front grilles, marking the final year of the Judge. The Pontiac GTO saw many more restyles and quite a few more years of production, even well past the end of the first Muscle Car craze.