1964 was all about the birth of big-engined, muscular midsize models, and the ’64 PONTIAC GTO IGNITES THE SUPERCAR REVOLUTION!
Pontiac called it “A Device For Shrinking Time & Distance.” Magazine editors called it a “Supercar”. And enthusiasts flocked to Pontiac dealers from coast to coast to see the new GTO, an option that breathed life into a Tempest. Pontiac, not Ford, Chevy or Plymouth, essentially created an option that ignited the Supercar Revolution and an almost cult-like movement. The GTO’s extensive performance and comfort and convenience “menu” was the envy of the industry. It was the Supercar for all seasons and reasons. Red FLAMME GTO Concept, top, toured the Auto Show Circuit in 1964.
Because the GTO became an overnight sensation, fiction often gets in the way of reality when discussing responsibility for its concept and creation. Pontiac’s primary players were Pete Estes, General Manager and John DeLorean, Chief Engineer. DeLorean’s staff included a number of racing enthusiasts. The concept of putting a 389-inch engine from a full-size Pontiac into a Tempest evolved from meetings DeLorean had with two performance-savvy guys – Bill Collins and Russ Gee. Gee headed up the Experimental Engineering Department. One of the key meetings was not however about creating a high-performance street car. It dealt with building a slightly longer wheelbase Tempest to replace the NASCAR Super-Duty 421 stockers that had become history!During the discussion of a unique 389-engined Tempest, Jim Wangers, top, right, a successful Pontiac drag racer and account executive at Pontiac’s McManus, John & Adams, got involved. He also had a relationship with Ace Wilson, owner of Royal Pontiac. He presented youth-market-targeted GTO concepts to Pete Estes. He passed them along to DeLorean and the 389 Tempest GTO program was greenlighted. Ferrari originally used the model designation GTO – Grand Turismo Omologato – for its 250 GTO. Essentially, it means a vehicle meets the standard specifications for racing in the Grand Touring category. Within the enthusiast community in the U.S., the ’64 PONTIAC GTO IGNITES THE SUPERCAR REVOLUTION and a whole new youth market was created.
For some Baby Boomers, Pontiac’s GTO is the automotive equivalent of Jimi Hendrix’s Star-Spangled Banner guitar shred at Woodstock: powerful, iconic and emblematic of an extraordinary era in American history. Pontiac offered a GTO until 1974, then dusted off the badge again for its last hoorah 30 years later on the 2004- ’06 edition. A few versions of the model were significant, at least one was legendary (we’re looking at you, The Judge), but it was the pure-and-simple ’64 that lit the fire. The GTO’s origin story is almost as legendary as the car’s performance reputation.
Continue reading ’64 PONTIAC GTO IGNITES THE SUPERCAR REVOLUTION and Hemmings’ 1964 GTO Buyer’s Guide @ https://www.hemmings.com/stories/1964-pontiac-gto-buyer-s-guide/
Pontiac GTO enthusiasts should check out, https://www.gtoaa.org/