After working hard, saving your money, and finally getting that dream muscle car, the last thing you want is to find out you’ve bought a dud (we know from personal experience). Sure, a flashy exterior and speedy V8 are cool, but the novelty begins to wane if you can’t trust it to take you from point A to point B.
That, dear reader, is why reliability (regardless of the category of vehicle you select) is of the utmost importance. Not only can repair skyrocket costs, but it’s also stressful on a continual basis. Though nearly every muscle car has a similar V8, V6, or I-4 package, not all is alike below the surface. One V8 may be a race-winning legend, while another could be bonafide junk.
With that in mind, we hope to eliminate the possibilities of such an outcome, particularly if it’s a stable muscle car you seek. If that is the case, we know the greatest, most reliable, muscle car on the used market today: the 1967 Pontiac GTO…
Old But Gold: The 1967 Pontiac GTO
Though occasionally overshadowed by its newer, more popular alternatives, the Pontiac GTO is (arguably) more important to American car culture than any other classic muscle car. As such, it’s not uncommon to hear the GTO described as the first real muscle car. To get a good picture of how great the original GTO is, we need to explain its history.
Before the creation of the GTO, Pontiac was solely dedicated to luxurious vehicles. However, as the culture of America changed during the 1960’s, prospective drivers went from wanting opulence to wanting speed. Thus, with collaboration between Jim Wanger, John DeLorean (yes, THAT DeLorean), and others, the first Pontiac GTO was born.
Well, technically the first ‘GTO’ was a trim option, not an entire model. The vehicle in question was the Pontiac LeMans ‘GTO’; a supped up version that reached 141.2 MPH all the way back in 1957.
The marketing plan was a huge success for Pontiac, although that only presented yet another roadblock. Because motorsports were so dangerous during the early-1960’s, GM (Pontiac’s owners) put a halt on racing their large sedans.
What they didn’t do, however, was restrict racing with smaller bodies. This, combined with all of Pontiac’s engine mounts being the same, helped DeLorean and Wanger to finally get the GTO on the road (as well as on-track).
An Engine Ahead Of The Times
From 1964 (the first year) to 1966, not many major changes were made to the car or engine. All of that changed in 1967, when the first generation Pontiac GTO saw its end. Up until that point, the GTO had a 389 cu (6.4 L) V8 making ~325-hp. 1967, on the other hand, had a bigger 400 cu (6.6L) V8; 335-hp standard.
Besides the added displacement and extra ponies, the 1967 GTO’s engine was also still as lighter-weight as its predecessors. Plus, the ’67 saw the carburetors replaced from a Tri-Power to a 4-barrel Rochester Quadrajet system. As an aside, a select few iterations of the 400 cu Pontiac GTO came with even more than that, too! Notably, there’s the Ram Air one’s, but those we’re only available on 751 out of the 81,000+ GTO’s for 1967.
Pontiac’s history began with accessible luxury cars, so they knew how to make a well-built car; one that would withstand the test of time, best illustrated by the sheer number of mint ’67 GTO’s still active/for sale today.
Needless to say, the improved carburetors (along with everything else for the ’67 model) made a world of a difference in both speed and reliability. It was a win-win: more power, better efficiency, and a longer lifespan to boot.
“Pontiac! All The Way From The Back Field!”
Using the LeMans/GTO, Pontiac single-handedly revolutionized a nation’s automotive desires. What started as a strictly utilitarian take on cars progressively evolved into a cult of adrenaline addicts, a majority of which were young-adults itching for their next dose of high-speed fun.
Pontiac, from the very beginning, knew who they were marketing the GTO towards young people. Those who were “cool” and “hip,” so to speak. And what better manufacturer to take up that challenge than 1950’s – ’60s Pontiac? “Why?” Simple: (most) young people don’t want a car that’s hard to maintain, yet, still plenty fast. Given Pontiac’s track record, they had an ideal starting point.
Vehicles like the Star Chief and Bonneville gave Pontiac all the practice in the world to make a reliable car. All they really had to do was strip down a pre-existing model (the LeMans), upgrade its respective components, and shed some unnecessary weight. Then, voilà, you’ve got the sturdiest muscle car to date.
Well, it’s certainly easier said than done, so good on Wanger and DeLorean! The GTO is, after all, high-up on the ‘Reasons We want Pontiac back’ lists…
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