The Pontiac GTO: 50 Years of Excitement

April, 2014


Fifty years have passed since Pontiac’s design team defied GMs policy of limiting engine size in smaller cars, by dropping a big block motor in the intermediate-sized Tempest. The rest, as they say, is history. The muscle car era was born, and GTOs, affectionately called Goats, became an important part of American car culture. Although the Pontiac is no longer in GMs stable of vehicles, the sporty GTOs of the ’60s and ’70s are some of today’s most desirable collector classics. Through the GTO, it seems Pontiac has made good on its advertising slogan, “Building Excitement.”


In 1964, Pontiac offered the GTO package, which was a high performance option for their existing Tempest. Recognizing they had a winner on their hands, the following year Pontiac added the GTO model to their lineup. This car, with its distinctive look and serious horsepower, was tailor-made for the need-for-speed crowd.

However, as is the case for any sports car, all GTOs were not created equal. The early ’60s song by Ronny and the Daytona’s, “Little GTO,” summed up the hot setup for the Goat. “Three deuces and a four-speed and a 389 … turn it on, wind it up, blow it out GTO.” It’s no exaggeration to say that many of the fast cars of the day became quite familiar with the Goat’s taillight design.

Chances are, you know someone who owned a GTO, and you’ve probably heard them passionately relay stories about their experiences behind the wheel, particularly their drag racing feats. Perhaps the story goes something like this: “Since the shift leveler was pretty small in diameter, it could be used like a spring to slam in the next gear during power shifts. Before the engine reached the point of the shift, I preloaded the lever in the direction of the shift, depressed and released the clutch as quickly as I could, causing an almost instantaneous change in gears. What a ride!” Of course, you can bet the story ends with, “Man, I wish I hadn’t sold that Goat.”

Collector GTOs and Celebrity Goats

Prices continue to rise for GTOs at collector car auctions. Primarily, buyers are looking for original, unmodified vehicles, with matching drivetrains. Here are some of the first-year GTOs, as well as some later high-end Judge models, that sold at auctions in 2014.

  • A 1964 GTO Hardtop: $41,800
  • A 1964 GTO Convertible: $82,000
  • Multiple 1969 GTO Judge Hardtops: $60,500 to $110,000

In 2013, a 1971 Judge convertible sold for $232,500
Of course, the GTO story wouldn’t be complete without mentioning two star cars that heightened the reputation of these legendary street machines. The 1966 GTO Monkeemobile was one of the celebrities of the hit TV series “The Monkees.” This famous, customized California cruiser sold at auction in 2008 for $396,000. The action movie, “XXX,” starring Van Diesel, featured a gun-toting “Goat.” This 1967 GTO sold at auction in 2011 for $29,120.

All prices provided above include buyer’s commissions.