1964 Pontiac GTO, the muscle car that started the entire craze

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The Pontiac GTO was owned by one family for 50 years
The Pontiac GTO was owned by one family for 50 years

Editor’s note: This piece is part of the ClassicCars.com Journal’s Muscle Month. We’ll be featuring stories, cars and people during July about everything and anything that goes fast.


There were high-performance American cars before the Pontiac GTO, but that is the car that touched off the horsepower wars of the 1960s and helped coined the term “muscle car.” 

As the ClassicCars.com Journal kicks off Muscle Car Month, the Pick of the Day is the first year of the trend-setting street warrior, a 1964 Pontiac GTO hardtop with matching numbers and one-family ownership since 1968. 

The Pontiac GTO sports a set of Redline tires

The Pontiac Le Mans GTO, as the model was originally called before later becoming simply GTO, was completely restored “over the years,” according to the Milford City, Connecticut, dealer advertising the Pontiac on ClassicCars.com, and it “performs like it did in 1964.” The car is an authentic GTO model, documented by the Pontiac Historical Society, the ad says.

During the family’s ownership, the patriarch decided a change of hue was in order, the ad notes: “The father changed color to a rare Pinehurst Green with new black interior.”

The dad changed the Pontiac GTO color to Pinehurst Green
The dad changed the Pontiac GTO color to Pinehurst Green

The GTO is powered by its correct 389cid V8 rated at 325 horsepower with a Muncie 4-speed manual transmission and a 10-bolt rear with 3.23:1 ratio. The ad includes a comprehensive list of the car’s serial numbers.

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Pontiac’s midsize performance car was created by an insider group of Pontiac execs, including John DeLorean, Bill Collins and Russ Gee who were determined to bypass General Motors’ newly enacted competition ban by building a street machine that would uphold Pontiac’s performance image. They got around the ban by making GTO a line-item performance and trim package for the Pontiac Le Mans. 

The GTO’s interior was completely redone

The colorful DeLorean thought up the name, officially referred to as “Grand Tempest Option” but really inspired by Ferrari’s famous 250 GTO race cars. GM’s general manager Pete Estes approved the GTO despite its engine being larger than the company’s self-imposed limit of 330 cubic inches for midsize cars, but he wasn’t so sure the car would sell. 

The original production run was just 5,000 models, but it soon became obvious that Pontiac had a runaway hit in its showrooms. Many thousands more were built. 

This GTO looks very clean and authentic in the ad photos and is priced at $43,000. 

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

15 COMMENTS

  1. The 1964 Pontiac GTO body style’s very similar to the 1964 Chevy Malibu SS, a car that came with a 327 cu. in. Motor, carter 4 barrel carburetor, 4 speed transmission, 300 hp.

  2. I was on a City re development Committee in Pontiac, Michigan…my home town, with john De Lorean in 1964.
    He was the GM representative to the Committee.
    We pulled up to the meeting place at the same time…it was the first day of introduction of the GTO.
    He took me for a ride around the block….i fell in love!!!!
    I purchased HIS Silver Grey 64 GTO Coupe from GM, a month after he introduced it!
    A lovely car…i enjoyed it for many years!
    Jack Simon

  3. i still remember my friend’s 64 gto gold convertable with a 65 front nose. Al -the Magwheel- owned it on long island,NY. i wonder what happened to that car?

  4. Seems a little overpriced for non original color car. Seems funny that one would restore a vehicle and devalue it by painting it the wrong color.I also see add-on gauges under the dash.

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