There are a lot of stories about the 1964 Pontiac GTO, most of them well-known and committed to memory by fans of the pioneer that blazed the trail for midsize muscle cars.
Among them is the one about how first-year orders came to about six times the number Pontiac management expected when it turned the seriously amped-up LeMans loose. It makes you wonder if any of those 32,450 buyers had bothered to read the GTO sales catalog first.
Said Pontiac, "To be perfectly honest, the GTO is not everyone's cup of tea. … Its suspension is firm, tuned more to the open road than to wafting gently over bumpy city streets. Its dual exhausts won't win any prizes for whispering. And, unless you order it with our lazy 3.08 low-ratio rear axle, its gas economy won't be anything to write home about." Apparently, one man's warning is another's ringing endorsement.
The 1964 GTO came three ways. There were the expected sporty-car styles of the day, a convertible and a two-door hardtop, but there was also a coupe with a fixed B-pillar, which Pontiac called the Sports Coupe.
For a car created on the GTO's premise -- stuff the largest available engine into the lightest possible body -- the Sports Coupe came closest to the mark. At 3,000 pounds, it was 20 pounds lighter than the hardtop and 150 lighter than the convertible. Plus, with the lowest starting price of the three ($3,200), there was a little more left over for the buyer to start equipping a "Goat" the way he wanted.
The original owner of our the above car went in big for performance options and easy on the luxuries. The 389-cid V-8 engine is the triple two-barrel-carburetor version, good for 348 bhp at 4900 rpm. The transmission is the close-ratio M-21 four-speed stickshift. The final drive is a 3.90:1 ratio with the Safe-T-Track limited-slip differential. Meanwhile, everything is manually operated: seats, windows, even steering and brakes.
The GTO coupe shown here, one of 7,384 made for '64, is now in the hands of its third owner, Brian Thomason, of Aurora, Colorado. He bought the Gulfstream Aqua car in 1988, but it's been in its present condition since 2002, when a full restoration was completed. A documented matching-numbers car, it has won several top awards for Brian at GTO and Pontiac-Oakland club meets.