5 Pontiacs That Have Impressive Quarter-Mile Speeds - SlashGear (2024)

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5 Pontiacs That Have Impressive Quarter-Mile Speeds

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5 Pontiacs That Have Impressive Quarter-Mile Speeds - SlashGear (4)

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ByJoe Capraro/

Pontiac was established by General Motors in 1926 and hung around until GM's bankruptcy and restructuring led to Pontiac being dropped in 2009. GM also let go of Saturn, Saab, and Hummer at that time, but none of those divisions were quite as important to automotive history as Pontiac. That division's highlights included the GTO, which is often recognized as the first muscle car. Pontiac also made the Firebird and its high-performance cousin, the Trans Am.

A car's 0-60 mile per hour time is regularly cited as a performance benchmark, but a more accurate representation of a car's capability is its quarter mile (1,320 feet) time and the speed it's going when it crosses that line. That has long been the standard for the length of a drag strip, although the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) shortened Top Fuel and Funny Car courses to 1,000 feet after Scott Kalitta's fatal crash in 2008. For production cars, the quarter mile remains the best way to measure a car's acceleration in a way that reflects real-world performance. Over its 75-plus year history,Pontiac cranked out several cars that put out notable quarter mile times; here are a handful of our favorites.

1964 GTO -- 13.29 seconds

The 1964 GTO was an option package on the Tempest LeMans which added the 389 cubic inch V8 from the full-sized Catalina to a car that weighed less than 3,500 pounds. John DeLorean and his design team had to work around a GM policy requiring all of its cars to weigh 10 pounds for every cubic inch of displacement, so the LeMans was offered with a 330-inch V8 as the base engine and the $295.90(a little under $3,000 today) GTO option got buyers the 389.

That brought the cost of the GTO to $2,776, which equals just over $28,000 today when accounting for inflation.For that investment, GTO buyers got a car that was powerful yet still well-balanced enough to be relatively easy to handle, even when driven hard. With the standard Rochester four-barrel carburetor, the GTO's 389 produced 325 horsepower and 428 lb-ft of torque, but choosing the tri-power (three two-barrel carbs) option boosted output to 358 horsepower. In 2003, Motor Trend ran a tri-power GTO through the quarter mile in 13.29 seconds, with a finishing speed of 107 miles per hour.

[Featured image by Greg Gjerdingen via Wikimedia Commons|Cropped and scaled|CC-By 2.0]

Fifth generation GTO -- 13.3-13.62 seconds

The GTO persisted through five generations, although the badge sat on the shelf from 1974 until 2004.That year, Pontiac made some tweaks to the Australian-market Holden Monaro and introduced it to American buyers as the new GTO. Underneath its sloping hood was a 5.7-liter (348 cubic inch) LS1-series V8 that produced 350 horsepower, putting it just over the magical one horsepower per cubic inch mark. In a 3,725-pound car, that was enough power for MotorTrend's testing team to manage a 13.62 second quarter mile time at just shy of 105 miles per hour. That was close to the performance of the 1964 model, about three tenths slower than the 2004 Corvette, and roughly a half second quicker than that year's Ford Mustang GT.

The fifth-generation GTO stayed in Pontiac's lineup through 2006, and got an engine upgrade for its last two years. That motor was the 6.0-liter (366 cubic inch) LS2 V8 that was shared with the sixth-generation Corvette and produced nice, round power numbers of 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. Motor Trend tested the 2005 GTO at 13.3 seconds over the quarter mile at 105.9 miles per hour, almost matching the performance of the original GTO.

[Featured image by MercurySable99 via Wikimedia Commons|Cropped and scaled|CC-By 4.0]

Tempest Super Duty -- around 12 seconds

TheTempest was already a strong performer when John DeLorean and his staff turned it into the GTO. In 1963, the Tempest was available in Super Duty trim, which featured several interesting engineering choices. The most important was the 421 cubic inch race-bred V8 with a 12:1 compression ratio and two four-barrel carburetors atop it. So configured, that engine produced 405 horsepower and made the Tempest Super Duty a monster on the drag strip. Bill Shrewsberry won the A/FX class at the 1963 NHRA Winternationals with a run of 12.04 seconds at 116.29 miles per hour, and Arlen Vanke set a new class record later that year with an 11.89 second effort at an unthinkable 123.11 miles per hour.

A quirk of the Tempest Super Duty was the manner in which power was sent to the rear axle. This model borrowed its four-speed transaxle and independent rear suspension from the Chevy Corvair, linking the engine and transaxle with a 3/4-inch flexible steel driveshaft. Pontiac implemented a radical new four-speed transmission setup, which had a second gearset mounted to the rear of the transaxle. Drivers used a hydraulic clutch to get the car moving in reverse and first gear, and the 'PowerShift' mechanism took over for clutchless shifts to second through fourth. Pontiac built just 14 of these beasts: two prototype coupes and six production examples each in coupe and station wagon form.

G8 GXP -- 13.2 seconds

Just before it went the way of the dodo, Pontiac managed to produce one last high-performance model. Pontiac unveiled the 2008 G8 as a concept at the 2007Chicago Auto Show. Like the fifth-generation GTO, the G8 was an Australian market Holden model that was brought to the United States. In this case, Pontiac chose the HoldenCommodore, replaced the front clip and hood with ones of its own design, and offered it in two high-potency variants.

TheGT version got a 362 horsepower, 6.0 liter (366cubic inch) V8, while the G8 GXP was outfitted with a 6.2 liter (378 cubic inch) LS3 V8 that made 415 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque. Six-speed automatic and manual transmissions fed power to the rear wheels, and the G8 GXP sat on the same platform as the contemporary Chevy Camaro. GM's StabiliTrak traction control system helped minimize wheelspin when the gas pedal was punched, and Motor Week's testers covered a quarter mile in 13.2 seconds at 112 miles per hour in the G8 GXP.

1969 Trans Am Ram Air IV -- 13.7 seconds

Pontiac began offering a cold air induction system on the 1965 GTO's 389 cubic inchV8, but didn't refer to it as "Ram Air" until three years later. It included a hood scoop to feed air to a foam-sealed steel pan in between the air filter housing and either a single four-barrel or three two-barrel carburetors. Another foam seal circled the air cleaner and kept hot air from the engine from sneaking in that way. In 1967, GM banned tri-power setups on anything that wasn't a Corvette, and Pontiac bored the 389 out to 400 cubic inches, enlarged the valves, and replaced the Firebird's intake manifold with an earlier Super Duty model to accept a Rochester four-barrel carburetor.

TheRam Air III and IV systems were released for the 1969 model year, both featuring new port designs. That was the same year the TransAm first hit the roads, with a Ram Air IV system with an aluminum intake manifold. Its 400 inch (6.6 liter) V8 put out 345 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque and could propel the Ram AirIV Trans Am to a quarter mile pace of 13.7 seconds at over 100 miles per hour.

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5 Pontiacs That Have Impressive Quarter-Mile Speeds - SlashGear (2024)

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