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Car Tales: Happy Cruising! 1964 Pontiac GTO

Three deuces and a four-speed and a 389
Listen to her tachin’ up now
You know your car has hit legend territory when it has a song written about it.
1964 Pontiac GTO for sale
In this case ‘GTO’, recorded by Ronny and the Daytonas, which sold over a million and a quarter records in 1964, hitting the number 4 slot on the American charts. Later the song was covered by the Beach Boys and others, including Big Star’s Alex Chilton.

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But it was, after all, the Pontiac GTO being so celebrated in song. A car that looks like a craggy mid-1960s movie star, the Pontiac GTO, which launched in 1964, was considered the very first muscle car.
1964 Pontiac GTO side view
In its time few cars had its mystique, street credibility, and appeal. ‘The new GTO does what so many others only talk about – it really does combine brute, blasting performance with balance and stability of a superior nature.’ So said Car and Driver magazine that year.
The 1964 Pontiac GTO was initially offered as an option package on the Pontiac Tempest LeMans.
Accordingly it became the first automobile to coin the concept of high-performance, low-cost muscle cars. While a maximum of 5000 sales was expected, the total units shifted of the 1964 Pontiac GTO was 32,450 cars. The 1964 ‘GTO’, ‘the Goat’, ‘the Tiger’ or ‘the Great One’ – assorted sobriquets it enjoyed – was an unsurpassed, unimaginable success. And it sparked that new era of American muscle cars around the world. The car took its name from the famous Ferrari 250 GTO which itself stood for Gran Turismo Omologato.
It might not surprise you to hear that the GTO was the baby of a certain General Motors whizzkid – and legendary playboy industrialist – called John DeLorean. For without DeLorean’s wild cat attitude – and that of Russ Gee and Bill Collins, his GM co-creators – the GTO would never have existed. Or set the standard for what was about to be unleashed on the U.S. motoring public.
Their vision was to transform the upcoming second-generation Pontiac Tempest into a sporty car, with a larger 389 cu in (6.4 L) Pontiac V8 engine from the full-sized Pontiac Grand Prix hardtop coupe in place of the standard 326 cu in (5.3 L) V8.
1964 Pontiac GTO rear view
The GTO’s success was to come in the face of General Motors having a self-imposed ban on placing engines larger than 330 cubic-inches in the A-body. Yet by making the GTO an option package for the Tempest, DeLorean was able to bypass this restriction and slip the GTO in under the GM radar.
1964 Pontiac GTO interior
By promoting the big-engine option as a special high-performance model, they could appeal to the youth market: they were only too aware that Ford’s Lee Iacocca was about to launch the Ford Mustang as a variant on the second generation Ford Falcon compact.
So we have one of these beauties this very moment at Beverly Hills Car Club, a first-generation 1964 Pontiac GTO featuring body by Fisher and finished in a color scheme of Silver Mist Gray combined with a gorgeous Blue interior. This original California car is equipped with an automatic transmission, V8 engine, Holley carburetor, dual exhaust outlets, three-spoke steering wheel, roll bar, GTO badging, chrome bumpers, AutoMeter gauges, forward-folding front seats, manual-crank windows, glove box, Toyo tires, chrome wheels, jack, and a full-size spare tire. The VIN number decodes that this original California car was rolled off the assembly line in Fremont, California. This is a sharp-looking American muscle classic car that is an excellent weekend cruiser and is mechanically sound.
The Ronny and the Daytonas’ ‘GTO’ song had been written by a couple of kids who took the tune to Pontiac.
But when a representative of the car company approached the Beach Boys with an idea of them recording it, the Southern California musical icons asked for way too much money. A lucky break therefore for Ronny and the Daytonas, who certainly benefited from GM’s promotional clout. And the Beach Boys did finally get round to recording ‘GTO’.
And there were more songs celebrating this culturally significant car. Blues legend John Lee Hooker’s ‘Mustang Sally Bought a Brand New GTO’; ‘Santa’s Got a GTO’ by the Ramonas… Who are not to be confused with the immortal Ramones, and the lyrics to their song ‘Rock’n’Roll High School’:
Well the girls out there knock me out, you know Rock, rock, rock’n’roll high school
Cruisin’ around in my GTO Rock, rock, rock’n’roll high school I hate the teachers and the principal
Don’t wanna be taught to be no fool Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock’n’roll high school
Happy Cruising!
-Alex Manos, Owner
1964 Pontiac GTO buyer Alex Manos

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