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A GT with SelectShift Cruise-O-Matic became a GTA, and received appropriate badging on the front fenders.
On the other hand, John Smith, in Super '60s Fords, commented that "The only new thing about the transmission was the advertising! It employed the same shift quadrant pattern as on the previous Galaxie, and had been available as a 'floor shift' all the way back to the 1962 Galaxie 500/XL models." Dual-range Cruise-O-Matic had first appeared in 1958.
GTs and GTAs were easily identified by their black-out grille and hood "louvers." On the bodysides were three vinyl stripes just above the rocker panels. Upon closer inspection, one could find GT or GTA identification at the center of the grille, front fender plaques mounted within the stripes, and a badge on the right side of the rear deck on a distinctive chrome panel placed between the taillights.
The chromed hood indentations, or louvers, carried the engine's displacement in red numerals. At the end of the rear fenders, the word Fairlane was spelled out in individual chrome letters. Lesser models had their letters attached with a chrome line under them, same as on the full-size Fords.
Inside, bucket seats were standard. A GT badge crowned the front of the console, beneath the dash. It featured a storage compartment and attractive brushed stainless trim. Doors also carried stylish GT identification. As exclusive as the console setup looked, it was shared with the 500/XLs, which were very similar to the GTs except for the engine. Both GT and 500/XL models sported red and white lights built into the door arm rests.
Full wheel covers were standard, and the engine came with a viscous drive fan and the chrome dress-up kit. Other special GT and GTA features included 120 pounds of insulation and sound deadening material, wide rims, larger tires, and a heavy-duty suspension highlighted by a stabilizer bar.
Of course, this made the car heavier: about 400 pounds more than a Fairlane 500 hardtop with a 390. Little wonder the GT/GTA wasn't the best choice for racing.
Motor Trend's 0-60 time with a GTA hardtop was 6.8 seconds. The standing quarter-mile came in at 15.2 seconds and 92 mph. It all looked great on paper, especially when MT's test of a Pontiac Tempest GTO with a four-speed stick showed no better figures. One GT ad carried the headline "How to Cook a Tiger," offering "An original Ford recipe that may be tasted at your Ford Dealers...Remember-it's a very hot dish!"
In reality, it was the GTO that cooked the GTA as Car Life proved in a two-car comparison. In fact, nearly all the GM and Chrysler super sport cars were just a bit faster than the GT and GTA, especially the Plymouth Belvedere and Dodge Coronet and Charger with the 425-horsepower 426 Hemi V-8.
The Pontiac GTO had a 389-cid V-8 rated at the same 335 bhp as the Fairlane GT, but at 5,000 rpm as opposed to the Fairlane GT's 4,800. With Tri-Power (triple two-barrel carbs), the GTO was rated at 360 bhp at 5,200 rpm. This could be boosted even further with a dealer-installed fresh air intake system.
Meanwhile, the Chevelle SS 396 was rated at up to 375 bhp and the Olds 4-4-2 boasted a 350-bhp, 400-cid power-plant, while the Buick Skylark GS had a 401 rated at 325 horses, but this was later bumped to 340. Within the Ford family, Mercury trotted out the Comet Cyclone GT with the same 335-bhp 390.
Go on to the next page to learn about NASCAR and the Ford Fairlane.
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