When people hear “GTO”, they think of a sleek and sexy muscle car ready to take the world by storm. That’s why the Pontiac GTO’s 2004 revival drew a round of head scratches.
A 2004 Pontiac GTO, via IFCAR
Yes, you’re looking at a 2004 Pontiac GTO, and, yes, it doesn't resemble the old GTO, which GM nixed 30 years prior.
Old GTOs, like this 1974 model, looked and performed like true muscle cars, via Bull-Doser
It's pretty typical to heavily revamp the body in muscle car revivals. However, instead of appeasing the strong nostalgia among modern muscle car enthusiasts with a 2000s-era muscle car appearance, GM decided to give its fourth-gen GTO a family sedan-style body with a Pontiac nose that probably had people mistaking it for a Grand Prix upon first glance.
You may be wondering why future collectors would want this car. Short answer: it’s much cooler than it looks. We’ll cover the long answer later in this post, but first, let’s talk about why GM decided to revive the Pontiac GTO 30 years after killing it off.
Why GM Brought Back The Pontiac GTO
After GM pulled the plug on the Pontiac Firebird in 2002, the Pontiac lineup no longer had a V8 coupe. GM wanted to fill the void with another V8 coupe, and they didn’t find one until some GM executives visited Australia and fell in love with the Holden Monaro GTO. They brought it to the USA, lightly modified its body, and rebadged it into the Pontiac GTO in 2004.
Even though the two-door four-seater didn’t look like a muscle car, it sure performed like one. When GM rolled out the car, it had a 6.0L LS2 with 400 HP. Those were actually the same engines that powered some Corvettes at the time. It’s hardly a surprise, given how the first engine made it possible for the Pontiac GTO to go 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds and the second engine helped bring the time down to less than 5 seconds.
In a nutshell, the fourth-gen Pontiac GTO was a performance car under the hood...but nowhere else.
What Led To The 4th-Gen Pontiac GTO’s Demise?
The answer is simple: poor sales.
In the first year, GM thought they’d sell 18,000 units but ended up selling only 13,500 units. They responded to the disappointing sales numbers by tweaking the following year's model with the new LS2 engine, two scoops on the hood, and split rear exhaust. The improvements had the GTO beating the 2005 Ford Mustang GT by 100 HP. It also outperformed the Camaro and both of Dodge's performance vehicles (the Charger and the Challenger). However, sales still weren’t good enough, and GM discontinued the Pontiac GTO in 2006.
A 2006 Pontiac GTO with the new LS2 engine and two hood scoops, via Crossley1
Despite its under-the-hood muscle, the family sedan looks of the GTO didn't appeal to muscle car enthusiasts. The GTO name came with high expectations, and the 4th-gen Pontiac GTO didn’t quite meet them in the appearance department. Had Pontiac named it something other than a GTO, sales might've been higher.
Another reason behind its demise could be its MSRP. It cost $5,000 more than the Mustang at the time. Only a few people wanted to fork over that kind of money for a muscle car that didn’t look the part. Not to mention, some GM and Pontiac fans didn’t appreciate the fact that this car originated in Australia, which made them view it as an “un-American” car.
All that being said, it may end up being a good thing that GM rebranded the car a GTO instead of letting it develop its own identity because it will likely boost the car’s value in the future.
Why The 4th-Gen Pontiac GTO May End Up Being Worth A Lot of Money
To put it simply, the 4th-gen Pontiac GTO is unique. It’s a muscle car that looks more like a grocery getter.
Besides its unique appearance, here are 5 more reasons the GTO may be a future collectible:
1. It’s the last muscle car Pontiac ever produced.
During Pontiac’s heyday, they made some awesome muscle cars (the Trans Am, anyone?), so it’s a pretty big deal that the Pontiac GTO was the last one to ever roll off the production line. In the future, collectors may appreciate it as much as we do right now.
2. It’s underappreciated.
Let’s face it: many of us judge a book by its cover, and we extend that mindset to cars. A lot of buyers were – and still are – so instantly turned off by the 4th-gen Pontiac GTO’s run-of-the-mill appearance that they never bothered to look under the hood. That’s where all the goodness is, which brings us to the next point…
3. It's fast.
A muscle car that can go from 0-60 in less than five seconds and outperforms many of the other highly-regarded muscle cars at the time? What collector wouldn’t want that?
4. It’s rare.
Only 38,500 4th-gen Pontiac GTOs were made. How many of those do you think are still being stored and maintained today? Probably a small fraction.
5. It’s really affordable.
Despite the defunct Pontiac brand and the GTO's rarity, it’s surprisingly affordable. You can find a well-maintained one for about $10,000, give or take.
If you happen to come across a 4th-gen Pontiac GTO in great shape, we highly suggest snatching it up if you can. It may pay off big time a few decades down the road.