Last True GTO?
Many enthusiasts feel that 1972 was the last of the true GTOs.
It came back in 1973 as a LeMans option. The LeMans received
a new body for 1973. The styling, especially the rear quarter
panels and rear quarter windows, was noticeably different from
the direction of previous Pontiac A-bodies. The GTO option was
offered on the LeMans coupe and sport coupe. The sport coupe
had louvers instead of rear quarter windows.
Big Engines Remain
The two GTO engines remained the 400 and 455 V8s, but horsepower
was down to 230 and 250, respectively. Compression had been
dropped again to 8.1:1. The automatic transmission was the only
one allowed with the 455, but the 400 could be ordered with
a three- or four-speed manual transmission plus the automatic.
All LeMans options were available on the GTO. The two-door coupe
accounted for 494 sales and the sport coupe attracted 4,312
customers for a total of 4,806 1973 GTOs.
The 1973 Pontiac Grand Am started out in the development
stages as a GTO then Can Am.
Formula X Performance Pontiac - Department X courtesy High Performance Pontiacas written by Don Keefe
(John R.) Schinella had a trio of prototypes built during the
'73 model year-a LeMans, a Ventura, and a Firebird. All were intended
to include performance suspensions and wheel/tire combinations.
While they didn't make it to production, they actually pointed
the way for some other specialty editions that came later.
While at a casual glance the collection of photos show three identically
painted models, there is more going on than initially meets the
eye. For instance, the X-bodied car appears to be a '74 GTO, but
is in fact, a '73 Ventura. Additionally, the prototypes are shown
with different wheels and tires and different turn-signal configurations.
'73 LeMans Formula X - Of the three Formula X cars, the A-bodied
LeMans had the highest level of modification. Up front, a Trans
Am-style Shaker scoop was used, with the accompanying hole added
to the hood. A set of '66 Grand Prix turn-signal lamps were also
grafted to the stock grille. The LeMans was photographed with
and without the GP signal lamps, as they appeared to be added
in a latter portion of the Formula X program.
'73 Ventura Formula X - As mentioned, the Ventura looks very
much like a '74 GTO, and it is likely this car had a large influence
on the production '74 GTO. Visually, the car is too close to the
production '74 Goat for it to be any sort of coincidence. They
both have the Shaker scoops, the '66 GP turn-signal lamps-even
the prototype stripe design is similar to the later production
version. About the only differences that really jump out are the
lack of a black strip on the bumper and the "350" callouts
on the front fender. Unlike the LeMans, the interior of the Ventura
Formula X appears to have been left alone, as there aren't any
red and blue pleats on the seats, though they are white.
Read the complete High Performance Pontiac article
"X Body Platform" - can you say Nova?
Another body style change marked the 1974 GTO. The GTO option
was shifted to the Pontiac Ventura platform for what turned
out to be the GTO's final year. The sole engine for the '74
GTO was a 350 V8 with a 7.6:1 compression ratio and 200 horsepower.
A four-speed manual transmission was still optional. A rearward
facing "shaker" hood scoop like the Trans Am scoop
allowed cold air into the Quadra Jet four-barrel carburetor
under full acceleration.
The Final GTO
Given the tough insurance and government restrictions, the '74
GTO made a valiant effort to keep the muscle car alive. The
smaller displacement engine avoided the insurance surcharges
on big displacement engines. Other makes were doing reasonably
well with smaller performance cars so Pontiac thought it was
worth a try. The 1974 GTO sold considerably better than the
'73 model. The unique-for-a-GTO hatchback accounted for 1,723
sales and the coupe with its traditional trunk sold 5,335 units.
The total of 7,058 was encouraging but not enough to continue
the GTO option.
The Legend Lives On
The GTO ceased production, but its legend remained as strong
as ever. After many beautiful muscle cars were quickly cast
aside during the seventies energy crisis, those same cars soon
became very desirable collector cars. The GTO was at the forefront
of the muscle car restoration hobby. In 1982, the GTO Association
of America was established to preserve and promote the original
muscle car. An aftermarket industry evolved to serve needs of
GTO restorers. Many of the same people who owned or wanted a
GTO in the sixties proudly drive them today. It takes a great
car to fuel that kind of desire for 35 years. The GTO helped
to establish Pontiac as the performance and "excitement"
division of General Motors. Pontiac continues to be at the forefront
in terms of creating driving excitement which takes on a new
dimension for the next century.
Over half a million GTOs were produced during an eleven year
run. Totals ranged from a high of 96,946 in 1966 to a low of
4,806 in 1973.