The Pontiac GTO, in the minds of many, was the first salvo in the Muscle Car wars, but it was born of a different need. In early 1963, most of Pontiac’s marketing was based on performance. They had been making an impression in NASCAR and NHRA competition. However, in 1957, General Motors had entered into a voluntary agreement, along with the other members of the Automobile Manufacturers Association, to abstain from competing in auto racing. In January of 1963, word came down from GM Brass that there would be no more involvement in competition. Pontiac had to do something to create some brand excitement without doing it on the track.
Pontiac’s John Z. DeLorean, Bill Collins, and Russ Gee came up with the idea for the Pontiac GTO, a factory hot rod that would replace the standard 326 cubic-inch V8 in the mid-size Pontiac Tempest with the 389 cubic-inch V8 from the full-size Catalina. At that time, General Motors had an internal edict that mid-size cars were not to have engines in excess of 330 cubic inches, a rule Pontiac skirted by saying it didn’t apply to engines offered as “options.” Elliot “Pete” Estes, former president of Pontiac and soon-to-be VP of GM, approved an initial production run of five thousand cars for the GTO option package. DeLorean bestowed the GTO moniker on the package, lifting it directly from the Ferrari 250 GTO. Thus began the Muscle Car era.
Our feature car is a 1970 Pontiac GTO convertible in Bermuda Blue with a Parchment vinyl interior and white convertible top. This GTO has been the subject of an exhaustive restoration. It features the matching-numbers 455 cubic-inch Ram Air V8 producing 360 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque, backed by a Turbo Hydramatic 400 three-speed automatic transmission, one of only 241 1970 GTO convertibles so equipped.
The Bermuda Blue paint on this Pontiac GTO looks to have had great care in prep and application. The chrome and stainless both present well. The glass and weatherstrip both appear to be recent. Rally II wheels are dressed with polished trim rings, and shod in reproduction Firestone Wide Oval bias ply tires. Both the white convertible top and Parchment top boot are in fine nick.
Inside the Pontiac GTO, the Parchment interior is a brilliant complement to the Bermuda Blue exterior. All of the soft trim looks showroom fresh. The GTO is well optioned with power steering, power brakes, hood mounted tachometer, power windows, power locks, sport mirrors with remote driver-side control, power convertible top, AM radio, and air conditioning.
Under the hood of the Pontiac GTO resides the matching-numbers 455 cubic-inch Ram Air V8. The engine bay is highly detailed. The foam gasket that seals the intake to the Ram Air hood shows very little deformation. The 455 cubic-inch V8 is backed by the aforementioned Turbo Hydramatic 400 three-speed automatic transmission.
This stunning and rare Pontiac GTO is accompanied by the original build sheet, owner’s manual, and a reproduction window sticker. It will cross the auction block at the Mecum Auctions 35th Annual Spring Classic Auction in Indianapolis May 13th through the 21st.