Car of the Day

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400hp for $20k – The LS2 powered GTO

June 6th, 2008 · 1 Comment

A few years ago GM tested the American market by bringing over one of their Australian models.  GM slapped a Pontiac logo on it and called it the GTO.

The GTO was panned by most consumers and the automotive press.  If you were reading the reviews when the 2005 GTO with the 400hp LS2 hit the market, the reviews weren’t all bad.  The GTO had solid performance numbers. Numbers like 0-60 in 4.8 seconds and a 13.0 second quarter mile.  These numbers were a few ticks quicker than the 2004 LS1 powered 350hp GTO and seemed to satisfy the need for speed that people thought that the GTO should fulfill. 

However, the GTO was still losing comparisons to slower, cheaper, less refined cars like a simple Mustang GT.  And the GTO lost for 2 main reasons, reason 1 was the styling and reason 2 was the price.  As far as styling goes, if a car has enough hp then it looks good to me.  (That’s probably why I like STIs and Evos.)

Around the same time another car was hitting the market and receiving resounding praise for its “bang for the buck” ratio.  The Dodge SRT-4 was the fastest car under $20k and many of its flaws were over-looked because it was such a good deal.  The GTO never got that recognition, even though it was just as good a deal and a much better car than the SRT-4

If you remember back to 2005, that is when the “employee pricing” craze hit the auto industry and there were deals to be had everywhere.  It wasn’t uncommon to read reports of a $34,000 GTO being purchased for $28,000.  And that price put it pretty close to a fully loaded Mustang GT. 

Alas, these factors were never really considered by the general population and GTO died an early death with the last model year being 2006.  There was a group of people that knew what was happening and they are the modern GTO owners.  They realized that GM had sent them a high-powered gift from down-under. 

Here in 2008, in the used car market there are plenty examples of the 6.0liter GTOs for sale right now around the $20k mark.  If you want cheap horsepower in a modern car it doesn’t get any better than this.

Sure gas prices are creeping up and maybe a V8 muscle car isn’t on your short list of options, but the GTO with a manual transmission is actually rated for 29mpg on the highway and 17mpg in the city, not too shabby for 400hp. 

If you’re looking for some fun this weekend find a 2005 or 2006 GTO and take a test drive.  You will be impressed by the build quality and the performance of the goat from the land down under.

Tags: GTO · Pontiac

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 steve purcell // Dec 27, 2008 at 8:48 am

    definatley agree I love my new gto 17995