HomeFeatured VehiclesPick of the Day: 1965 Pontiac GTO

Pick of the Day: 1965 Pontiac GTO

The rise of the Great One


Pontiac sold 75,352 GTOs in 1965. It’s one of the best-selling muscle cars ever. With so many built, it’s easy to get jaded because it’s easy to find one in the collector market. Yet, with so many built, there’s bound to be some that stand out from the masses. Our Pick of the Day is one of the more interesting 1965 Pontiac GTOs out there. It’s listed for sale on by a dealership in Lillington, North Carolina. (Click the link to view the listing)

Compare the lines between the full-size and mid-size Pontiacs.

After the GTO’s introduction for 1964, Pontiac made marginal improvements to make the package even better. Horsepower increased for both the four-barrel and Tri-Power (up to 360, a 12-horse increase), but perhaps the biggest news was Pontiac’s facelift for the A-body. Tempest and LeMans models now featured vertical headlights like the full-size cars, but the Coke-bottle styling of the latter had yet to reach the A-bodies, instead continuing to exploit the crisp styling that was introduced for 1964. This and other minor restyling created a look that has come to be known as the quintessential GTO.

Also new was a hood design that featured a single non-functional hood scoop. Ornamentation was not unusual, but air induction for a street car was. It became reality as a dealer-installed option in the middle of the model year, leading to the first of Pontiac’s “Ram Air” engines in 1966.

The GTO’s success in the market was a lot more than letters and sales numbers. Pontiac had a strong, sporty image. It also had success in racing, but that success was curtailed once General Motors exited racing after supposed monopolistic fears. As Pontiac had banked on racing to support its image, it instead turned its attention to the street and exploited that with the GTO. While Pontiac previously offered performance cars for the street (such as the Catalina with the 421 HO), what made the GTO different was its size and image – a name and look all its own that wasn’t compromised by pedestrian family cars. That’s what distinguished the GTO from other cars in the market. By 1967, every Detroit manufacturer offered a proper competitor to the GTO.

This 1965 Pontiac GTO two-door hardtop is equipped with the 335-horsepower 389 and an automatic transmission, so nothing too exciting. However, the way this one is trimmed is what stands out: Capri Gold with a Beige vinyl top. Vinyl tops were only available in Black or Beige, and seeing the latter in contrast with any color is possibly a new experience for many. Both colors nicely complement the Gold interior, which features the Custom Sports steering wheel (“Looks like wood. Feels like wood.”), console, power windows, AM/FM radio, dash pad, clock, driver’s side remote mirror, and more.

“The original grill is good as are the headlight trim. The taillights and chrome in rear pitted and original,” says the seller. “The door handles are good and original. Wheel well moldings are good and original.” Transmission has been switched to a 700R automatic, which gives four forward gears including overdrive – a nice concession to modernity, plus the original two-speed comes with the car. “Edelbrock aluminum intake, Edelbrock carb, small chrome air cleaner, chrome water neck. New alternator, new belt and hoses, power steering, chrome valve covers, aluminum Edelbrock heads,” adds the seller.

There’s plenty of GTOs on the road. There’s few like this. Why not check this one out and see if it moves you? For $52,000, it may be worth your time.

Click here for this of the Day.

Diego Rosenberg
Diego Rosenberg
Lead Writer Diego Rosenberg is a native of Wilmington, Delaware and Princeton, New Jersey, giving him plenty of exposure to the charms of Carlisle and Englishtown. Though his first love is Citroen, he fell for muscle cars after being seduced by 1950s finned flyers—in fact, he’s written two books on American muscle. But please don’t think there is a strong American bias because foreign weirdness is never far from his heart. With a penchant for underground music from the 1960-70s, Diego and his family reside in the Southwest.


  1. My Mother was one year late in buying the two door, Blue (WOW! What a color!) 66 GTO! I remember the rainy night she drove it home. I loved that car. Only problem was it would overheat in bumper traffic. Living in SoCal that was a common occurrence! I ended up with the car my Mom got a 64.5 Mustang with factory AC!

  2. The problem with over heating was , needed a larger radiator and electric fan.”Simple” Must have been from a rich family, What mother “Gives” her car she just bought to her “Privileged” Son? Back in those days , normal families didn’t have that kind of money?? Moma’s boy I guess??

  3. The car has problems, no tri power, auto, it looks like the stripped version. That’s not ‘GOAT’ car. Hope the buyer loves it.

  4. Great write up. Was a fan of the GTO from its beginning. Parents drove Bonnevilles and Grand Prixs. Learned to drive on my Mom’s then new 67 GP. No way was I getting a GTO. Even used. Do I settled on getting a Lemans. But a 64 Cutlass 2dr Hardtop with a 330 was found. At 16, insurance was less because it did not have a muscle car name. Never have had a “Goat”. But I still like “em.


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