R.I.P. Pontiac

by john on April 25, 2009

1966 Pontiac GTO

I’m feeling a little nostalgic this morning after reading about the demise of Pontiac. I haven’t been a life-long Pontiac owner or anything but one of my first cars was a used Pontiac GTO – a 1966 Goat similar to the picture shown here. Well, I guess I should qualify that. My GTO was similar to this one in the same way that Susan Boyle is similar to Megan Fox.

It was 1985 and I already owned a 1971 Volkswagen Beetle that I had owned for a couple of years. For some reason that is lost to time the then 19 year old me decided to buy a muscle car. I don’t recall being very knowledgeable or choosy – and since I didn’t have much money to spend I couldn’t get much. But eventually I found myself owning the original muscle car, the Goat, a 1966 Pontiac GTO. It was in terrible shape – rusted body, especially at the rear quarter panels, interior was mostly stripped and most sadly of all, which I only realized later, the stock 389 triple-carb motor had been replaced with a 400 from a standard LeMans. Bigger isn’t always better – that 389 was a classic engine.

In addition to the different engine it sported a Hurst speed shifter and rear slicks. The car was huge and couldn’t corner a lick. But man could it haul ass going in a straight line. My plan was to restore the car to it’s former glory by doing all of the work myself. I didn’t know anything about body work but I bought all the tools to be a Bondo maven and over the course of a couple of years I actually did quite a bit of work in filling out the body to a shape that sort of resembled what it was supposed to look like. Once primed, it actually sort of looked decent, but only if you stood back a hundred yards and squinted. But I had a lot of fun working on it.

The problem was that I couldn’t legally drive it around and eventually that was the demise of the vehicle for me. Try getting auto insurance as a 19 year old boy with a speeding ticket or two on their record. Trying to insure a non-stock muscle car. My insurance agent just laughed at me. He said he would insure me for the summer for something like $3,000. Right. So off it went. I was sad to go.

Until a couple of week ago when I rented a Pontiac G6 while on business in Georgia I hadn’t driven another Pontiac since my GTO.

It was not the same.

R.I.P. Pontiac – you will be missed.

The 1966 Pontiac GTO
Wheelbase, inches: 115.0
Weight, lbs: 3,445
Number built: 96,946
Base price: $2,783

Top Available Engine
Type: ohv V-8
Displacement, cid: 389
Fuel system: 3 x 2bbl.
Compression ratio: 10.75:1
Horsepower @ rpm: 360 @ 5200
Torque @ rpm: 424 @ 3600

Representative Performance
0-60 mph, sec: 6.5
1/4 mile, sec. @ mph: 14.65 @ 98

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sanjay Heera August 26, 2009 at 8:26 am

Man, im a little dishearted about the fall of pontiac…… im now 18 years old, and have wanted a 66-67 gto for 6 years now, well as my first car, i fell in love wth it in the 4th grade, there was a yellow 67 next door to my uncle… on my 18th birthday, i recieved a hot rod magazine in the mail, saying how pontiac has fallen, there was a blue GTO on the cover, i was happy recieveing a magazine on my 18th birthday with my favorite car on it, ha ha… two days later, i baught the car…. now i own a car with more power than i will ever need, for now… it will be expensive to maintain, but i have dedicated myself to this car, its not perfect but, the metals nearly perfect and the 389, is in it… no rust, no interior except seats, black primer… but the fact is, i still dont really believe it….. ha ha

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