Jay Leno Presents Muscle Car Genesis: The Pontiac GTO

There were only two kinds of GTOs available for purchase in the 1960’s, and one was considerably cheaper than the other.

That’s because one of the models was offered by Pontiac, taking inspiration from Ferrari’s famous, and successful racecar: the 250 GTO. Now, although the nameplate means Gran Turismo Omologato, which translates as “homologated grand tourer”, it has nothing to do with Pontiac’s racing program.

As a matter of fact, by the time the GTO was made available, Pontiac – which was advertised as GM’s performance division – ended factory support for racing activities, but John DeLorean thought it was a fitting that would commemorate the car maker’s past.

The GTO started life as a Tempest, with a 389 cu in (6.4 L) Pontiac V8 engine, despite GM’s policy of not allowing big engines on A-body vehicles. But by doing so, the team of engineers responsible for its creation (John DeLorean, Bill Collins and Russ Gee), inadvertently conceived the muscle car genre, and the rest is history.

The model visiting Jay Leno’s garage is a rare 1964, convertible, stick-shift GTO in mint condition, with air conditioning, belonging to Tim Miller for the past 22 years. It’s powered by the 389 cu in (6.4 L) four-barrel engine, but it also has Tri-Power two-barrel Rochester 2G carburetors in the trunk. How’s that possible? Well, the Tri-Power variant, rated at 348 hp, didn’t come with air conditioning, so those who wanted both had to order a normal 389 four barrel and get the Tri-Power though the part’s department – which the dealer delivered it in the trunk.

Catch the rest of the story in the video down below.

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