Pontiac GTO - Origins

Origins

The GTO was the brainchild of Pontiac engineer Russell Gee, an engine specialist; Bill Collins, a chassis engineer; and Pontiac chief engineer John DeLorean. In early 1963, General Motors' management issued an edict banning divisions from involvement in auto racing. At the time, Pontiac's advertising and marketing approach was heavily based on performance, and racing was an important component of that strategy. With GM's ban on factory-sponsored racing, Pontiac's young, visionary management turned its attention to emphasizing street performance.

In his autobiography “Glory Days,” Pontiac chief marketing manager Jim Wangers, who worked for the division’s contract advertising and public relations agency, states that John DeLorean, Bill Collins and Russ Gee were indeed responsible for the GTO's creation. It involved transforming the upcoming redesigned Tempest (which was set to revert to a conventional front-engine, front transmission, rear-wheel drive configuration) into a "Super Tempest" with the larger 389 cu in (6.4 L) Pontiac V8 engine from the full-sized Pontiac Catalina and Bonneville in place of the standard 326 cu in (5.3 L) Tempest V8. By promoting the big-engine Tempest as a special high-performance model, they could appeal to the speed-minded youth market (which had also been recognized by Ford Motor Company's Lee Iacocca, who was at that time preparing the Ford Mustang).

The name, which was DeLorean's idea, was inspired by the Ferrari 250 GTO, the successful race car. It is an Italian abbreviation for Gran Turismo Omologato, ("Grand Tourer Homologated") which means officially certified for racing in the Grand tourer class. The name drew protest from enthusiasts, who considered it close to sacrilege.

The GTO was basically a violation of GM policy limiting the A-body intermediate line to a maximum engine displacement of 330 cu in (5.4 L). Since the GTO was an option package and not standard equipment, it could be considered to fall into a loophole in the policy. Pontiac General Manager Elliot "Pete" Estes approved the new model, although sales manager Frank Bridge, who did not believe it would find a market, insisted on limiting initial production to no more than 5,000 cars.

Read more about this topic:  Pontiac GTO

Famous quotes containing the word origins:

    The origins of clothing are not practical. They are mystical and erotic. The primitive man in the wolf-pelt was not keeping dry; he was saying: “Look what I killed. Aren’t I the best?”
    Katharine Hamnett (b. 1948)

    Lucretius
    Sings his great theory of natural origins and of wise conduct; Plato
    smiling carves dreams, bright cells
    Of incorruptible wax to hive the Greek honey.
    Robinson Jeffers (1887–1962)

    Grown onto every inch of plate, except
    Where the hinges let it move, were living things,
    Barnacles, mussels, water weeds—and one
    Blue bit of polished glass, glued there by time:
    The origins of art.
    Howard Moss (b. 1922)