the pontiac GTO was the pioneer of the muscle car that we know and love today. General Motors introduced the Pontiac brand in 1925 initially as a companion marque to its expensive Oakland brand. In 1931, GM pulled the plug on Oakland to allow Pontiac to be its successor.
Pontiac made some great cars over its time, but the one that stood out the most was the GTO. The GTO had its first run before the oil crisis forced GM to discontinue the model in 1974. General Motors felt the iconic Pontiac GTO needed a second innings in 2003. Soon after they realized that people were not lining up to buy them.
There were many issues with the revived model, so let’s take a closer look at why no one bought the last 2006 GTOs.
April 2022 Update: This article was updated with new information about the Pontiac GTO.
Pontiac GTO: Genesis Of American Muscle
The Pontiac GTO pioneered the muscle car when it was first introduced in 1964. Some say that without the GTO, the Ford Mustang, or Dodge Charger wouldn’t exist. The GTO was initially built between 1963 and 1974. In its lifetime, the model witnessed four-generation updates. The early versions featured big gas-guzzling V8 motors displacing between 6.4 to 6.5-liters. The second-generation model was even offered with a 7.5-liter V8. But sales started to decline amid the oil crisis and GM discontinued the model after nearly a decade in production. Today, gearheads really enjoy restoring some of the original GTO models.
The Revival Of The Pontiac GTO
Three decades later, GM decided to relaunch the Pontiac GTO as a modern rendition of the classic. However, GM’s V-body platform was to save costs when designing the new GTO. This imported version of the car was a rear-wheeled drive coupe, built by GM’s Holden brand in Australia. Essentially, the resurrected GTO was a rebadged left-hand drive version of the Holden Monaro. However, it was no slouch!
The 2004 Pontiac GTO packed a 5.7-liter, LS1 V8 engine that made 350 horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque. The subsequent year, GM threw in an even bigger 6-liter LS2 V8 that pushed the power output to 400 hp and 400 lb-ft. The GTO 6-liter had a top speed of 180mph and would accelerate from 0-60mph in 4.8 seconds with a 6-speed manual transmission. It was even capable of covering the quarter mile in 13.1 seconds. The LS2 powered model featured hood scoops and a split rear exhaust. The 2005 Pontiac GTO was quite the impressive beast.
GM made some revisions to the 2006 model adding bright red and orange metallic paint options, while dropping the blue and yellow colors from the palette. The tail lamps were blacked out, and interior features were improved. However, the 2006 Pontiac GTO would be axed due to teething problems.
Demise Of The Pontiac GTO In 2006
The revived GTO featured modern vehicle styling that was poles apart from what GTO purists were expecting. Being based on a Holden, the US market felt the GTO lost its charm and authenticity. It was no longer the muscle car it once was.
The styling was only one of the problems with the new GTO. The car was plagued with reliability issues, reportedly regarding its leaking water pump that would eventually lead to overheating. The spark plugs would need replacing often, it was prone to coolant contamination, along with brake and transmission fluid issues. These teething problems meant that dealers struggled to push them from dealerships.
The final nail in the coffin for the 2006 GTO was the question of safety. With stricter regulations coming into force, the GTO would not meet the new safety requirements for airbags the following model year. The 2006 model of the GTO was the last to be imported from Australia and General Motors closed that chapter for good.
Under the General Motors umbrella, many recognizable automotive brands existed. However, with sales dwindling and costs escalating, between 2005 to 2010, GM started to pull the plug on a lot of its brands. In 2005, Oldsmobile was the first brand that was axed. By 2010, the automaker has killed off Hummer, Saturn, and Pontiac along with some of its overseas operations, including Holden. Vauxhall and Saab were sold off. GM streamlined its portfolio and is now looking toward the future. While the Hummer has been revived as an EV. The original GTO that put Pontiac on the map, which was also responsible for the demise of the brand.
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