Muscle Cars were born in 1964 with the release of the Pontiac Tempest GTO. General Motors had banned its divisions from motor racing, which had been a major part of Pontiac`s promotional activities. So instead of the focus switched to high-performance road cars. The recipe was simple: take the new Tempest intermediate saloon and drop in a 389ci ( 6374cc ) V8 engine as used in the full size Pontiac Catalina and Bonneville. Corporate rules dictated that intermediate models could not have engines larger than 330ci ( 5408cc) but this was to be an option package, not a model in its own right, so it slipped through a loophole.
John Z DeLorean , the Pontiac`s chief engineer came up with the name GTO was the designation of the fastest of the Ferrari 250 range and purists were outraged that mere Pontiac was impertinently appropriating the initials.
The GTO package cost just $300. There was a choice of two specifications for the 389ci ( 6374cc ) V8,either with a four barrel carb and 325bhp or three twin-choke carbs and 348bhp. The package also includeda twin exhaust system, faster steering and high performance tyres. Production was initially limited to 5000, but the GTO was a huge success and more than 30000 were sold. A crisp restyle for 1965 made the GTO even more popular : more than 75000 were built most of them hard top coupe`.
From 1966 the GTO was a model in its own right and it continued to offer bargain-priced performance until emissions regulations began to strangle the powerful V8s in the late 1960s.
1966 Pontiac GTO
Engine : 6474cc 90-degree V8
Bore x Stroke : 103.2 x95.3 mm
Valvegear : Pushrod operated overhead valves.
Fuel System: Triple Rochester carburettors
Suspension: Front- wishbones and coil springs Rear: fourlink live rear axle with leaf spring.
Wheels : 14in steel wheels
Brakes: Drum brakes all round , servo assisted.
Top Speed : 120 mph