I have an automobile addiction. Many of us do. For me it started at age 6 when my dad brought home a restoration project he had just purchased. He pulled into our driveway in a beat up sea foam green monster with a shit eating grin on his face. I would later find out the color was called Reef Turquoise arguably one of the ugliest colors GM had ever put into production. He ended up painting it Midnight Blue. This car would plant a seed that would define a large chunk of my life. At 6 years old my dad was my hero and the car he brought home on that fateful day was a 1966 Pontiac GTO Convertible with a 389 cu in. tri-power, 4 speed manual transmission. Single handedly the coolest thing my 6 year old eyes had ever seen. This post is dedicated to that car.
In 1964 Pontiac introduced a $296 engine option for one of their two doors at the time called the Tempest. For your 296 bucks Pontiac would throw in a 389 cu in (6.4 L) V8 rated at 325 bhp (242 kW) at 4800 rpm and a bunch of other goodies including the GTO badges. These would be the first Pontiac GTO’s.
In 1966 the GTO would emerge from behind the Tempest and Lemans as its own model. Affectionately nicknamed The Goat the ’66 would go on to sell 96,946 units. The most units sold by ANY American Muscle car ever. Three body styles were available the hardtop, sports coupe and the convertible (pictured above). The ’66 Goat would also feature two engine options the standard 389 cu in. Four-barrel or the more potent 389 Tri-Power which put down an impressive 360 bhp and 424 ft/lbs of torque. Also impressive were the the 6.5 sec 0-60 and 14.05 sec 105 mph 1/4 mile times that Car and Driver threw down in March of ’66. Other options included a functioning ram air set for the tri-power motor, 3 different transmission configurations and way too many rear end gear ratios to list. Full loaded you could take the GTO home for just over $4000 American green backs.
Of course everything wasn’t perfect. There were some complaints. The brake performance was terrible due to the four drum brakes. (I’ll verify this.) Many reviewers of the Goat at the time also complained of the steering being too slow. Especially in models not equip with power steering.
All of these great attributes combine to form the original American Muscle car. Combine that with Pontiac’s ground breaking advertising campaign and you have the recipe for a one of the greatest American classics.
The above photo was taken of my dad and myself in 1991. 6 years after he bought the GTO.