I didn’t know C/D’s Rich Ceppos as a fuzzy-cheeked teen-ager, but I’m sure he was a stroke. Anyway, he conned his mother into getting a GTO so he’d have the right car to take trolling for tootsies. Some of the best times of his life were in that car, squealing its tires and frothing its 10W-30 in a full-throttle search for the meaning of manhood.
He’s turned out better than anyone would have imagined back then, I’m sure, but he still goes into soft focus at the thought of a GTO, and he’s mentioned about eleven times how really important it is to him that a GTO be on this list.
Aw, dagummit, Rich, you don’t know how much this grates, because all GTOs were stones. The street cleaners gobbled them up like popcorn.
Still, stoneism is a relative thing. Hemis, Six Packs, and LS6s were rare. The streets were thick with strutting GTOs and 325-hp SS396s and 390 Fairlanes and 383 Mopars. They had a million races among themselves, and somebody won every one of them. GTOs did okay in that crowd.
The important thing about the GTO is that it defined the type. There were fast cars before the GTO, but – with the possible exception of the 409 Chevy – they had no identity. They were simply options. By collecting a few fast-car options into one jaunty package and naming it the GTO, Pontiac created the muscle car. It was brilliant marketing. Just as Honda had detoxed the image of motorcycles, the GTO purified the street racer. Everybody thought GTOs were neat, even Ceppos’s mom.
I promise you, Rich, nobody’s mom thought a 440 Six Pack Mopar was neat, and therein lies the difference between a GTO and a real muscle car. A 1964 Pontiac GTO with Tri-Power, rated at 348 horsepower, would clear the quarter in about 15.2 seconds at 93 mph.
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