A Sharp Looking 1969 Pontiac GTO

Creating the Pontiac GTO

The meaning of the letters GTO reportedly stand for  “Gran Turismo Omologato“. What this phrase denotes is that the car is eligible to be entered in races like the LeMans and stock car races. The tern used refers to the car’s approval for such events. This translation leaves little doubt that the Pontiac GTO was created with racing and power in mind. Some call the Pontiac GTO the first muscle car.

1969 pontiac gto the judge

1969 GTO front end and grille

Surprisingly, the Pontiac GTO was the idea of a GM advertising agency executive and John DeLorean, one time Pontiac chief engineer and later an automaker himself. It’s said that DeLorean came up with the GTO designation based on the Ferrari 250 GTO which didn’t sit too well at the time with GT Class followers. Nevertheless, Pontiac went forward with the vehicle during a period of auto making where powerful cars meant increased sales.

Characteristics of the 1969 GTO

Built on a unitary steel chassis, the 1969 Pontiac GTO had small design changes from the previous year. Changes were new grille inserts, a new rear bumper and the elimination of the small triangle vent windows. The car came with a list of attractive standard options including bucket seats, a Hurst floor mounted shifter for a 3 speed transmission and special exterior trim.

Two new engines were offered in 1969, the Ram Air III and Ram Air IV. The difference between these two engines was a Carter or Rochester carburetor.

1969 pontiac gto

1969 Pontiac GTO

The front seats got adjustable head rests and the dashboard was completely padded in 1969 to be in compliance with federal safety regulations. The 1969 GTO taillights were also moved above the back bumper.

The Judge

One thing that sets the 1969 Pontiac GTO's apart from other model years is that this was the year that "The Judge" model was unveiled. The Judge GTO was built through 1971. The first difference with The Judge model was it's 366-horsepower Ram Air III 400 V-8 engine. The 1969 GTO buyer could also opt for a 370-horse Ram Air IV 400. The car's name was taken from Rowan and Martin’s hit television show, “Laugh In.” The car was decked out quite well with a rear spoiler, decals and stripes, and Rally II wheels. In addition to The Judge, Pontiac offered the 1969 GTO in a hardtop and convertible body style. Today, the higher priced 1969 GTO collector car is The Judge Convertible model.

Interestingly enough, during the 1960's automakers didn't really advertise the top speed of their cars. Not that the information wasn't there. It was there for the asking. With the horsepower races going on during the 60's, a car with an very high advertised top speed would mean that the insurance companies would raise prices. If a top speed was advertised at well over 100 MPH you could expect a premium increase. Some of the GTO top speeds could reach 130 MPH. Most 1969 Judges were Carousel Red.

pontiac gto 1960's

Another profile view of 69 GTO

The Judge was Pontiacs highest performing GTO muscle car model and had heavy duty parts from front to back. Many will tell you that The Judge GTO was the ultimate GTO.

The Judge hardtops, the same as with regular GTO models, could be built on either the standard frame, which received new semi-gloss black paint for 455 cid equipped cars, or the convertible's stiffer boxed rail frame.

1969 Production Totals and Models

In addition to The Judge, Pontiac offered the 1969 GTO in a hardtop and convertible body style. Today, the higher priced 1969 GTO collector car is The Judge Convertible model.

1969 Potiac GTO production totaled 6,825 of The Judge models, most being hardtops, 58,100 regular hardtops and 7,328 regular convertibles.

1969 gto rear

New rear bumper and taillight placement for 1969

1969 Pontiac GTO Specifications

The 1969 Pontiac GTO came with a variety of engines including the Ram Air's mentioned above. All engines were 400 cubic inch V-8's with horsepower ranging from 265 to 370. The base model was powered with a 350 horsepower engine.

The 1969 GTO came with a three speed and four speed manual transmission along with a Turbo Hydra-Matic three speed automatic.

Brakes were four wheel hydraulic drums.

The car's dimensions included a 112.0 inch wheelbase, a length of 201.2 inches, a width of 75.8 inches and height of 52.3 inches. Weight was a bit over 3,500 lbs.

New car price for The Judge hardtop was about $3,500, for The Judge convertible $3,700, the regular GTO hardtop $3,150 and the regular convertible model $3,390.

See the AutoMuseumOnline articles on the links below...

The 1969 DeTomaso Mangusta

The 1967 Pontiac GTO

The 1969 Chevy Camaro Muscle Car

The Shelby GT 500 Super Snake

A few good books about the Pontiac GTO include GTO, 1964-1967 (Muscle Car Color History) by Paul Zazarine and How to Restore Your Pontiac GTO, 1964-74 by author Don Keefe.

1969 gto dashboard

69 Pontiac GTO dashboard

 Pontiac GTO Collector Car Values

All of the 1969 Pontiac GTO's are great collector automobiles. As mentioned above, The JUdge model which debuted in 1969 appears to hold the greatest value with The Judge Convertibles usually being the highest.

1960's Pontiac GTO values in general have remained strong and appear, as of this writing, to be increasing. Reportedly only five 1969 GTO Convertibles were built with the new Ram Air IV engine. This makes these some of the rarest of all GTO's.

Looking at only finely restored 1969 GTO's, prices will usually vay by exact model and degree of originality. The Judge models will generally have auction asking prices of $100,000 plus. Some high end auction asking prices have been known to hit $200,000.  Convertibles most likely higher. Regular GTO's of show quality will range from the $40,000 to the $70,000 asking price. A lot here will depend on degree of restoration and engine size. GTO's not of show quality may be priced less.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)


The Sporty and Luxurious 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix

Out of all the familiar automobiles from the 1960's, and there were plenty, the Pontiac Grand Prix is one of the most well remembered. The 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix is a true classic car. This was Pontiac's big sports luxury hardtop and was one of the most popular personal automobiles of the 1960's.

1966 pontiac grand prix

1966 Pontiac Grand Prix

A Sporty Yet Luxurious Automobile

The Grand Prix was built on the Pontiac Catalina platform. This was Pontiac's shorter big car chassis. The Grand Prix differed a lot from the Catalina with it's sportier interior including popular Strato bucket seats. Between the seats was a console along with a floor shifter.

One thing the Grand Prix was well noted for was it's luxurious interior while keeping the sporty touch. Seat coverings were either cloth upholstery or Morrokide. This sporty interior touch also included a tachometer and rear audio speakers. If a car buyer wanted to display performance yet do it in a luxurious enclosure, the Pontiac Grand Prix was his or her automobile.

The first generation Grand Prix debuted in 1962. The car was targeted at the younger car buyer and was designed as a performance car. It was a hardtop sports coupe. This was the same market that Ford Motor would target a few years later with their Mustang.

pontiac grand prix 1960s

Pontiac Grand Prix

1966 Grand Prix Styling

The 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix was little changed from the 1965 second generation Pontiac  however these second generation models were significantly changed from the first generation.

One change in 1966 was the addition of blacked out plastic grille. The pointed nose of the car had some resemblance to Pontiac's GTO.

The 1965 and 1966 Grand Prix is noted for it's flowing appearance, kicked up rear fenders and quad headlights. The first generation cars were much more straight lined. The second generation Pontiac Grand Prix was also a weightier car and the models in general used chrome sparingly.

The attributes of the second generation Pontiac Grand Prix were it's performance, big size and luxury. Some drawbacks compared to the first generation models, although arguable, might be not as good workmanship and not as good handling.

1966 grand prix dash

1966 Grand Prix dash

1966 Grand Prix Production

The first generation Grand Prix was accepted quite well. Sales went from 30,195 in 1962 to 72,959 in 1963. The 1964 model year saw 63,810 vehicles built. Things changed in 1965. Production that year totaled 58,881 cars and then in 1966 production fell dramatically to 36,757.

One explanation for the downward spiral could be the introduction of the Ford Mustang in 1964. While the cars in many ways, size and weight in particular, were quite different, both cars were appealing to the younger market. Additionally, the Grand Prix was priced about $900 to $1,000 or so higher than the Ford Mustang.

Beginning in the 1969 model year the Grand Prix would be shortened to a 118.0 inch wheelbase becoming a mid size car and be part of the Pontiac LeMans series.

1966 Pontiac Grand Prix Specifications

Two engines were available for the 1966 Grand Prix. These were a 389 cubic inch V-8 with a four barrel carburetor putting out between 265 and 333 horsepower.  The 389 was the standard engine. The other was a 421 cubic inch V-8 that could deliver from 338 to 376 horsepower. Either engine made the 1966 Grand Prix a 1960's muscle car. Interestingly enough, Pontiac discontinued the offering of a three two barrel carburetor set up on the 389 but kept it on the 421.

1966 grand prix rear window

1966 Pontiac Grand Prix concave rear window

The 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix was built on a 121.0 inch wheelbase with an overall length of 214.6 inches. This was an inch longer wheelbase than the original 1962 models. The Grand Prix was a full size Pontiac with a weight around 4,000 lbs.

Transmission options were a three speed and four speed manual along with a  three speed Hydramatic.

The links below are to additional AutoMuseumOnline articles for comparisons to the 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix...

1967 Pontiac GTO History and Specs

1969 Dodge Charger

The 1970 High Performance Ford Mustang

1966 pontiac grand prix rear

Pontiac Grand Prix rear view

The Pontiac Grand Prix Collector Car

Because the 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix was built in part to be a muscle car, chances are today you'll see plenty that have been modified. There are some good looking Grand Prix street rods you're sure to come across.

Price wise you'll see some wide ranges because of modifications. You'll see the best prices on original, or as near to original as possible, models. In general you'll see higher collector valuations on the first generation Grand Prix models from the 1962 through 1964 model years. These are thought to be somewhat more distinctive and crisp looking and some would say better built.

A two door hardtop 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix, as of this writing and in excellent condition, might have a price tag in the high teens. We have also seen several priced above $20,000. Degree of modification and overall condition will mean a lot on this car.

The first generation Pontiac Grand Prix values as mentioned above will generally be more. You might find asking prices on mint museum condition vehicles as high as $50,000. While this is a high figure you'll find others priced in the $20,000 and $30,000 range.

If you're looking for a 1966 Grand Prix project car you should be able to find one in the $5,000 range. If the car doesn't run you'll certainly pay less.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)


1948 Pontiac Silver Streak Eight Convertible

A vintage American automobile to say the least, this 1948 Pontiac Silver Streak 8 Convertible is a fine representation of late 1940's design. The Pontiac Silver Streak was one of four cars offered by Pontiac in 1948. In addition there was the 1948 Pontiac Streamliner Eight Wagon offered.

1948 Pontiac Torpedo

1948 Pontiac Torpedo Silver Streak

Two models were Streamliner and Torpedo. Each came with a six cylinder and an eight cylinder engine. Wheelbases in 1948 were 119.0 inches and 122.0 inches. Two 

The Torpedo Eight was also called the Silver Streak and was built on the 119 inch wheelbase only. The Silver Streak was the name given for the straight eight engine.

Some refer to the car itself as the Silver Streak which we've also done in this article but officially to Pontiac the car was a Torpedo model. The Silver Streak / Torpedo was built by Pontiac from 1940 through 1948 with the exception of the war years. Production stopped in February 1942 at which time about 83,500 1942 models were built.

The 1948 Silver Streak Convertible

Pontiac offered the Silver Streak 8 Deluxe Convertible featured in this article on the shorter 119 inch chassis. The convertible was also offered with the six cylinder engine. These were Pontiac's only convertibles at the time. The Silver Streak Eight Torpedo, some have said, was America's first muscle car.

1948 pontiac convertible

1948 Pontiac Convertible

The overall car design was similar in a large way to the pre War styles however 1948 was the first year that Pontiac offered both the Standard and Deluxe styling themes.

One of the differences between the Standard and Deluxe models was the amount of bright trim. In addition, Deluxe models had stainless steel gravel guards. The Indian head hood ornament was on both the six and eight cylinder cars. The Silver Streak 8 script appears on those cars with script as shown on our photo. Some design tweaking was done for the 1948 models.

For instance, the 1948 model's grille was a bit lower than the grilles of 1946 and 1947. The Torpedo was built on the GM A Body which was shared by Chevrolet. The Streamliner was built on a B Body that was shared with Oldsmobile, Cadillac and Buick.

1948 pontiac torpedo dashboard

Pontiac Torpedo Eight interior and dash

1948 Was a Strong Sales Year

Total Pontiac production for 1948 was about 334,000 vehicles of which 84,600 were Torpedo models. Out of these about 11,000 convertible Torpedo models were built.

Sales were terrific in a large part from the pent up consumer demand from the war years. Pontiac sold every single car they produced. The first new post war generation of Pontiacs would debut one year later for the 1949 model year.

1948 Pontiac Silver Streak 8 Torpedo Specs

This Pontiac Torpedo came with a 249 cubic inch Silver Streak Straight Eight engine delivering 107 horsepower.

1948 was the first year of the Hydra-Matic transmission for Pontiac. The Hydra-Matic was the first fully automatic transmission built. The first Hydra-matic, also called Hydramatic, came out for the 1940 model year for Oldsmobile. Cadillac followed one year later. It wouldn't appear in the Pontiac for another eight years largely because of the war.

Over two-thirds of the 1948 Pontiacs produced had these automatic transmissions.

1948 pontiac torpedo grille

1948 Pontiac Torpedo full width grille

Dimensions for the 1948 Pontiac Torpedo included a wheelbase of 119.0 inches, a width of 75.75 inches and an overall length of 204.5 inches. The convertible weighed about 3,550 lbs.

Suspension included coil springs on the front and semi-elliptic leaf springs on the rear. Brakes were four wheel hydraulic drum.

The car's serial number is eight numbers long and should be found on the left front side of the dashboard.

Compare this Pontiac Torpedo to the autos in our AutoMuseumOnline articles on the links below...

The 1947 Ford Super Deluxe Convertible

New Post War Design 1949 Cadillac

A Beautiful 1950 Willys Station Wagon

An excellent book available on the Pontiac cars is... 75 Years of Pontiacs by author John Gunnell..

The 1948 Pontiac Torpedo Eight Collector Car

The 1948 Pontiac Torpedo Silver Streak Convertible is the rarest of 1948 Pontiacs. So few were built that model year, some 11,000 convertibles, finding a restored one is not that easy. People that own one or have rode in one know that it's a classic 40's cruiser.

1948 Pontiac torpedo interior

Another view of the Pontiac Torpedo dash

The 1948 Pontiacs were significant as they were the last of the pre war designs. Most American automakers unveiled their new post war generation cars in either 1948 or 1949.

These automobiles have the typical convertible allure which is a positive and the inside and outside finish is done well. If the automobile still has the Straight Eight engine so much the better. An originally equipped Torpedo is an iconic American vehicle.

The car is a classic as well as an antique vehicle. In addition to this the Pontiac marquee no longer exists which could be a plus for future appreciation.

While there are several 1948 Torpedo models, sedans,  on the market for prices in the mid to high teens, you'll also find mint condition convertible restorations priced in the $30,000 range and higher. Like many other collectible cars, the more originality usually leads to better valuations.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)