The Pontiac GTO may be one of the most famous American muscle cars of them all, but it has a name borrowed from a Ferrari and in 2004 was resurrected in large part thanks to the Australians. In the land down under, GM subsidiary Holden had since the early 2000s been building the Monaro, which was a rear-wheel drive coupe powered by a 5.7-liter LS V-8 engine from the C5 Corvette. This car was also imported to the UK as the Vauxhall Monaro. While at GM, executive Bob Lutz had driven one of the Monaros in Australia. Thoroughly impreseed, he became convinced that an American version of the car could do well, and so the new GTO was born.
Compared to the Holden, the GTO had Pontiac front and rear fascias, GTO stitching on the seats, a revised exhaust and additional bracing to the bodywork for American safety regulations. The 2004 model was powered by an LS1 engine coupled to either a Tremec six-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. The 2004 model was rated at 350 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque. While the four-seater GTO was fairly hefty at over 3,700 lbs, it could nevertheless scoot to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds and run a 13.6 second quarter-mile. While not the quickest thing on the road, the $33,000 GTO wasn’t lacking for speed and Motor Trend noted that “for sheer drivetrain refinement, the GTO easily matches Europe’s best sporting coupes. And in a straight line, it’ll smoke a similar rear-drive, V-8 two-door like the $52,000 Mercedes CLK500.”
While the GTO was quick enough for just about anybody, the car nevertheless got a healthy extra dose of speed for its next and final two model years with the 6.0-liter LS2 engine out of the then-new C6 Corvette. This engine made an even 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque, enough for 0-60 to drop to under five seconds and the quarter-mile to about 13.3 seconds. The 2005-06 cars also featured larger front brake rotors to cope with the extra power, and visually could be distinguished by twin hood scoops.
Total production over three years was 40,800 examples. The styling has been criticized as being much too bland for a muscle car, but for the GTO faithful this is just part of the car’s appeal. It doesn’t look much different from a normal two-door commuter but it goes like a Corvette. That is the absolute definition of a sleeper. Those who wanted a bit more visual distinction, though, could choose from several high-impact colors like Barbados Blue, Yellow Jacket, Brazen Orange, or the sinister-looking Cosmos Purple.
Because there wasn’t much in the way of options for the GTO, there aren’t many factors that affect value other than the usual condition, mileage and transmission choice. Because the 2004 LS1-powered cars are so down on power compared to the LS2 GTO, however, that model year is worth significantly less. As for mileage, most GTOs weren’t carefully stored and barely used. These cars were driven, and finding a GTO with under 40,000 miles will be difficult. And since the car is from a now defunct brand and features many components sourced from Australia, parts will cost more than one might normally expect.
While other modern muscle cars looked like updates of cars from the ‘60s, the GTO took a different approach. It was like a four-seater Corvette dressed up to look like something an accountant would drive, but that was always one of the coolest things about it. It wasn’t at all an in-your-face car to show off with. It just let the performance do the talking.