The Classic ‘67 Pontiac GTO
The 1967 model year saw the muscle car flex its muscles, having become its own separate Pontiac model the year before (it had been an optional trim package for the Tempest LeMans from ‘64-’66). Designers made a few styling changes to the new GTO by adding eight tail lights (four on each side) and additional chrome on the front. With the Rally II wheels and colored lug nuts, the classic gave off an aggressive, no-nonsense appearance.
The most significant changes were under the hood. The stock 6.4L V8 was bored out to 4.12 inches, raising the displacement to 400 cubic inches (6.6L), capable of 360 horsepower. The Tri-Power carburation was scrapped in favor of the Quadrajet 4 bbl system. The increase in power made the GTO a serious contender in the muscle car market, faster than the Camaro and almost as quick as the Mustang.
Pontiac replaced the two-speed automatic transmission with a Turbo-Hydramatic, which included the Hurst Performance dual-gate shifter (both manual and automatic capabilities). The car could be locked into automatic by keeping the shift knob to the left or tapping it right, and you could use it as a manual.
The model year included several safety items, including shoulder belts, padded dashboards, a collapsible steering column, and emergency flashers.
A total of 81,722 units were sold, with about 80% of them being hardtops (only 9,517 convertibles and around 7,500 Sport Coupes).
The 2008 Pontiac G8
When General Motors contracted with Holden of Australia to produce the G8 in 2008 and ship it to the US, many early reviews wondered if the new car might be the salvation of the brand. The G8 was a full-sized sedan with plenty of muscle under the hood. Pontiac looked to the G8 to replace the popular Bonneville they discontinued in 2005 and the Grand Prix, which Pontiac was phasing out of the production line.
The G8 was primarily based on the Holden Commodore, although it had a unique front end and other styling differences. The G8 was offered as a base model with a 3.6 High Feature V6 that had been popular in the Cadillac CTS and Holden Commodore for years. It produced a pedestrian 256 hp and was paired with a five-speed automatic.
The G8 GT and the GXP models are where the modern Pontiac began to tap into its muscle car roots. The GT had a 6.0L V8 that made 365 hp and could motor down the track doing 0 - 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. The GXP borrowed the 6.2L LS3 Corvette engine, making a more respectable 415 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. The GXP was blisteringly fast, reaching 60 mph from a standstill in 4.5 seconds and a 13-second quarter mile.
Pontiac soon discovered that the G8 would not be the sales winner they had hoped, with nearly half of the inventory remaining unsold. When GM declared bankruptcy in the financial crisis of 2008, Pontiac became one of the casualties of its reorganization. About 35k G8s were made, including 1,827 GXPs, and even when Pontiac slashed the prices another $5k to move the remaining inventory, even the discounts failed to elicit much customer response. Production for Pontiac stopped in mid-2009, leaving dealers stuck with inventory that it appeared that no one wanted.
What Are The Ways A ‘67 GTO Compares To The G8?
Apart from the fact that both cars had powerful V8 engines, there were other areas in which the GTO and G8 shared a connection.
Design and Dimensions
The ‘67 GTO was a classic, straightforward muscle car with a Coke-bottle look characteristic of the GM A-platform. While most of the new design was a holdover from the 1966 model, the classic muscle car exuded some serious aggression.
By contrast, the modern-day G8 offered subdued styling based on the Zeta platform. (Pontiac had relaunched the GTO in 2004, but it lasted only three years. It was also a rebadged Holden product). The GXP had an upgraded suspension system, a rear diffuser, and a sporty front bumper cover, distinguishing it from the base and GT models.
The modern GXP has a length of 196.14 inches, a width of 74.76 inches, and a height of 57.68 inches. The classic GT0 was considerably longer at 206.6 inches, 75.0 inches in width, but was a bit shorter at only 54 inches. The ‘67 had a touch longer wheelbase of 115 inches, compared to the modern muscle car GXP, sitting at 114.76. At over 4,000 lbs, the G8 was about 600 lbs heavier than its first-generation relative.
In 1966, a bestseller by consumer advocate Ralph Nader changed America's perception of automobile safety. The book Unsafe At Any Speed: The Designed-in Dangers of the American Automobile was a scathing expose of how unsafe the American auto was and prompted swift governmental action. Many car companies recognized the impending regulations and complied with additional safety measures (like seat belts) to convince the public that their best interests were being addressed.
The ‘67 GTO had several safety measures that were ahead of their time, including emergency flashers, an energy-absorbing steering column, a dual master cylinder (as a redundant system), and even an option for shoulder seat belts to go with the lap belts being installed by the factory.
Similarly, the 08 G8 also featured several safety measures, including six airbags (most manufacturers installed side airbags as additional protection even though federal regulations would not happen until 2014). The car also included traction control, an electronic stability system, and ABS brakes. The car earned a “marginal” safety rating from the IIHS and was never tested by the NHTSA.
The base price of the ‘67 GTO was around $2,925 - $3,400, depending on the options. (The figure translates to roughly $27,000 in today’s currency). By contrast, the 2008 G8 had a base price of $27,595, and the GT models ran about two grand more.
The ‘67 GTO has a faux-wood-grained instrument panel that complimented the wood sport steering wheel that could be ordered as an option. The instrument panel included four round gauges, a speedometer, a tachometer, a fuel gauge, and oil and temperature gauges. The Hurst Performance stick shifter could be locked into a manual for a more sporty feel or kept in automatic for a more standard driving experience. The GT0 had an option to delete the radio, should an owner wish.
The 08 G8 had cloth seats (with an option of leather), power windows and locks, a CD player, and a speaker sound system (11 speakers in the GT) controlled through steering wheel controls. The driver and passenger seats were powered, and there was an option for heated front seats. The cockpit of the ‘08 gave a more driver-centric experience, enveloping the driver with easy-to-reach controls and instrumentation.
The ‘67 GTO was all about power, and with its hefty V8 engine, it was not built for fuel efficiency. (This car was built before the oil crisis of ‘73 when Americans started parking their V8s because they couldn’t afford to drive them). The combined fuel mileage for the GTO was around 9 miles per gallon.
The 08 Pontiac G8 used an Active Fuel Management system that could drop four cylinders during highway cruising to improve mileage. The combined fuel economy was 18 mpg (15 city/24 hwy). With its 19-gallon tank, the range was over 342 miles, almost double what the ‘67 could do.