It is considered the first muscle car … the first car to articulate the power and spirit of American youth … a powerful experience that still quickens the hearts of Baby Boomers today. It is widely agreed that this 1964 Pontiac GTO 2-Dr Hardtop started the muscle car era. At the heart of this beast was a big block 389 that used a hot rodder inspired Tripower carburetor setup to tweak even more power from this monster engine. Pontiac’s John Delorean and his engineers dared to build a factory hot rod, and the automotive world would never be the same again.
This Grenadier red 1964 Pontiac GTO 2-Dr Hardtop shown here is offered for sale by Classic Rewind out of LaMotte, Iowa. They say the color is correct to this car, even the black vinyl roof and black interior are the original design. This first generation, highest horsepower GTO is highly sought after especially in the condition this one has with its original driveline. It’s loaded with the optional Hurst 4-speed manual transmission and 3.90 10-bolt differential. It rides on classic red wall tires. It comes with its 389 ci motor, 348 horsepower and the legendary Pontiac Tripower.
“This show stopper is parade ready and so dependable that you could drive your dream car every day,” says Classic Rewind in their ad copy. Click the link to view 39 more detailed photos.
Delorean’s engineers took a mid-sized Pontiac Tempest and envisioned it as the right platform to build a street performance car. When GM banned factory involvement in racing it put a crimp in Pontiac’s style. Delorean and his team decided to pursue the idea of inspiring performance in their street car lineup. They found a loophole in Pontiac’s policy to allow the GTO with its 389 big block motor to be offered as an option package.
Although it was approved by Pontiac General Manager Pete Estes, most Pontiac officials thought the GTO option would never sell so they restricted the GTO to an initial production run of only 5,000 units. Those officials ended up eating a little crow because Pontiac sold 32,450 GTO’s that year. Breaking it down, there were 18,422 hardtops and 6,644 convertibles, with an extra 7,384 “Post” sports coupes also sold that year. They figure about 8,245 of the GTOs had the Tripower option. The Sports Coupe was lighter than the hardtop by about 20 pounds.
The GTO was to be a Tempest optional package which you could buy for $295 extra. That came with a single Carter four-barrel carburetor. But you could upgrade to the Tripower, three 2-barrel Rochester carbs rated at 348 hp, as an additional option to the package. The GTO came with dual exhaust, chromed valve covers and air cleaner, seven-blade clutch fan, a ride and handling package including stiffer springs and a larger sway bar, metallic drum brake linings, limited-slip differentilal, heavy-duty radiator, and the usual power options available at that time. Pontiac dared to be different sporting hood scoops, fancy wheels and chromed dual exhaust tips.
After the success of the GTO, all the American car companies followed Pontiac’s credo. Stuff the largest engine you can into the lightest body possible. That was the way the muscle car era started. The race was on.