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The return of a legend: Pontiac brings back the GTO

Andrew Doud / Reporter

In the ‘60s and early ‘70s muscle cars ruled the streets and the strip. Names like Mustang, Chevelle, Challenger, Charger and Camaro were dominant forces at red lights. These cars were distinctly American. They were fast, loud and went far beyond a basic means of transportation.

Many of the cars that made such a statement back in the day have since become collector’s items, with only Mustangs and Corvettes still in production. In recent months, however, automakers have tried to revamp the cars that were commonplace forty years ago.

Mustang and Corvette have undergone a facelift for the 2005 model year, while Pontiac has brought back the GTO. The GTO was one of the first cars to start the muscle car craze in the’60s. It was originally produced in 1964 and, until now, a new one has not hit the road since 1972.

The 2004 GTO has a 5.7L LS1 V8 engine putting out 350 horsepower and 365-pound feet of torque. It is rear wheel drive and is available with a six-speed manual transmission.

Judging by those numbers, it would seem that the American muscle car has returned, except for the fact that it looks nothing like the GTO from back in the day. In fact, it looks more like a glorified Grand Prix and it is not American.

The GTO is actually Australian built. Perhaps Pontiac needs to get a clue that the first year GTO was more of an insult to the original than a testament to what once was. Apparently, the rest of America had this same outlook, with sales of the 2004 GTO being much lower than anticipated. For 2005, the GTO gets a little more aggressive looking with a hood scoop and somewhat sharper lines, along with a C6 LS2 Corvette engine unleashing 400 horsepower.

Maybe buyers will respond better to these changes, but if you are going to bring back a legendary car, stay true to the legend. The reason that the Mustang and Corvette have been around for 40 and 51 years respectively is because they have stayed true to what made them so successful originally.

If Pontiac wants to see sales skyrocket, it should start producing in America and take styling cues from the past.