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1965 GTO


Used Car history 
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Muscle Cars

GTO 1964-1967

Shelby Mustang




1965 GTO

America Discovers the Tiger

When Humble Oil began their ad campaign in 1962 urging Americans to buy Esso gasoline and "put a Tiger in your tank," advertising agencies began picking up on the tiger theme and applied it to push a multitude of products. Soon the striped beasts were everywhere. The word tiger had worked itself into the lexicon of the day, and every young man wanted to be a tiger, or at least wrap himself in that swinging image.

Pontiac had also used the tiger theme in several Tempest ads in 1963, but it didn't actually spread across the product line, nor did Pontiac aggressively image the Tempest that way. And while Pontiac didn't start out to promote the GTO as a tiger, it didn't take long for Wangers to recognize a good thing when he saw it, and the tiger concept slowly crept into some of the 1964 GTO advertising. "The GTO began to gather the image of the tiger," Wangers explained. "And quite honestly, this wasn't necessarily something that we went out front to promote. It just kind of happened."

The tiger theme began to snowball thanks to US Royal, which supplied tires for many GM products, and had produced the redline tire for the 1964 GTO. The redlines contributed to the GTO's capability to endlessly burn rubber, not because the car had such a tremendous amount of torque but because the skinny 7.75x14 in. tires had such a small footprint on the ground. For 1965, these redlines were dubbed Tiger Paws and US Royal launched a massive TV and print advertising campaign. After all, the name Tiger Paw was far more appealing than Super-Safety 800, the model desig-nation for the four-ply bias-belted tire.

The GTO was a benefactor of the US Royal campaign. "We really kind of fell into it," Wangers said. "It was a label that grew onto the car because the tires were original equipment and we were the only car to offer the Tiger Paw. It was a logical conclusion: what has a tiger paw on it but a tiger?"

Pontiac constructed a major advertising campaign capitalizing on the tiger theme, starting at the dealer level, with black-and-gold striped paper covering the showroom windows. Added to this were tiger tails that hung from the fuel filler door in the bumper or emerging from the hood and draped across the fender. Television ads depicted a growling tiger leaping into the engine bay of a GTO. Pontiac magazine advertising proclaimed, "You don't know what a real tiger is until you hear this GeeTO Tiger growl!"

The Wide Track Pontiac Tiger campaign swept the nation, along with men's GTO cologne, GTO shoes and the "GeeTO Tiger," a three-minute song with the California surfer sound that was little more than a musical commercial for the GTO. On the flip side was a test drive of the GTO, in which the listener imagined himself riding shotgun while the announcer took a GTO through its paces on the test track. Imagination was precisely what it took, because in reality a stock GTO could hardly perform as the record indicated (the entire recording was done in a studio). Available from Pontiac for fifty cents, the record was also used to tie in a special promotion with Hurst. Advertisements by Hurst appeared in national car magazines like Hot Rod announcing a contest in which anyone who listened to the "GeeTO Tiger" recording, correctly counted the number of times the word tiger was used and explained "why I would like to own the original GeeTO Tiger," could send in their answer and be eligible to win the Grand Prize—a 1965 GTO with special Tiger Gold paint, gold-anodized Hurst wheels and a gold-plated Hurst shifter.

All of this promotion transformed the GTO's image far beyond its true street performance capabilities. Pontiac knew the hydraulic-lifter 389 couldn't outgun a Super Stock Plymouth or a Z-11 Chevrolet and avoided any type of comparison with these cars, which just two years before had been the only game in town. "We knew the only way we were going to survive was to take this car and equate it more into a lifestyle," Wangers recalled. This was one of the reasons options like a dual four-barrel induction setup was scrapped, although the new single-scoop hood, which was actually planned for 1966, was placed on the 1965 GTO in anticipation of the canceled dual-quad option.

Pontiac gave the Tempest line a face-lift in 1965, changing the headlamps from horizontal to vertical, much like the large Pontiacs had received begin-ning in 1963. The split-grille theme was retained and a large Pontiac crest was added between the deep-set grilles. For the GTO, the grilles were blacked out. The GTO nameplate seemed to float in the black left-hand grille, making it instantly recognizable from the more pedestrian Tempest and LeMans.

The flanks were virtually the same as on the 1964, as was the greenhouse. The rear was revised, featuring eight thin bars that ran across the back, stretching between the taillamp bezels. The GTO nameplate remained on the rear quarter, and the wedge-shaped 6.5 Litre emblem continued on the front fenders behind the wheel opening.

Inside, the seats were reupholstered, with the seat center inserts ornamented by diagonal bars and the Pontiac crest embossed in the center of the seatback. On the door panels, a smaller version of the fender emblem was attached near the window crank. The center console was nearly identical to the 1964, however, the instrument panel was completely redesigned. A larger pad hooded the top of the instrument panel, and a passenger grab bar was placed directly above the glovebox door. The gauge panel retained the four-pod design of previous years. The standard gauge arrangement included a fuel gauge and speedometer, with telltale lamps for temperature, amps and oil pressure. A clock was optional.

A host of new options were offered for the 1965 GTO, including a Rally clus-ter. This gauge cluster placed the fuel gauge and battery telltale lamp in the left pod. In the second pod from the left was the 120 mph speedometer, odometer and a semi-furled checkered flag to reinforce the rally theme. In the third pod was an 8000 rpm tachometer with a 250 degree sweep. It was much larger and easier to read than the small, 90 degree tach offered in 1964. In the fourth, far right-hand pod was a water temperature and oil pressure gauge. All characters and graduations were white on black dials, and a wood applique decorated the face of the gauge panel.

Other new interior options for 1965 included an AM-FM radio and three-spoke Custom Sport steering wheel. For the first time, a wheel option was offered for the GTO. The silver-textured 14x6 in. Rally wheel was constructed of stamped steel and featured six cooling slots and a chromed center cap.

Under the new hood was a revised version of the 389 ci engine, sporting a new intake-manifold design with revised runners and ports. The cylinder-head passages were also new, however, intake and exhaust valves were still mea-sured at 1.92 and 1.66 in., respectively. Camshaft profile was unchanged from the 1964 engine. The standard engine still utilized a Carter AFB four-barrel topped by a redesigned chrome air cleaner with louvers in the cleaner's circumference, appearing quite similar to the Corvette. Horsepower for the base engine was upped to 335 at 5000 rpm, with 431 Ib-ft of torque at 3200 rpm.

The optional Tri-Power engine also featured the new intake-manifold-runner design, and shared the cylinder heads and block, 10.75:1 pistons, Arma-Steel connecting rods and cast pearlitic malleable-iron crankshaft with the base engine. Tri-Power engines mated to the two-speed automatic transmission continued to use vacuum-controlled secondaries, but stick-shift models now featured mechanical linkages for the outer carburetors. The camshaft timing was a tad higher, at 288 degrees duration for intake and 302 degrees duration exhaust. In Tri-Power configuration, the GTO was rated at 360 hp at 5200 rpm and delivered 424 Ib-ft at 3600 rpm. Cast-iron exhaust manifolds dumped the spent gases through dual exhausts with reverse-flow mufflers and resonators.

Four transmissions were available in 1965, starting with a two-speed automatic with either standard column mount or optional console location. Three manual gearboxes were on the order sheet—a three-speed with floor-mounted shifter, and two four-speeds, one close-ratio with a 2.20:1 first gear, and a wide-ratio with a 2.56:1 first gear. All manual boxes were stirred by a Hurst shifter; a center console was optional with the stick shifts. Rear-axle ratios ranged from an economical 3.08:1 up to gut-wrenching 4.33:1 cogs that could be ordered with any transmission and required the extra-cost heavy-duty radiator, power brakes, metallic brake linings and limited-slip rear options.

The suspension was unchanged from 1964, with independent front suspension using unequal-length upper and lower control arms, coil springs, hydraulic shock absorbers and antisway bar. Around back, the four-link rear was used with a live axle, coil springs and hydraulic shock absorbers. Manual steering was slow, with a ratio of 24:1 and a hefty four turns lock to lock. Power assist was faster with a 17:1 ratio.

The weakest link in the GTO package—the brakes—was unchanged from 1964. The metallic linings were again offered; however, in an effort to improve the GTO's braking capabilities, an aluminum front drum option was now on the order sheet. The finned aluminum units were designed to dissipate heat more efficiently and improve braking.

At 3,700 Ib., the GTO was no light-weight, but it was 500-600 Ib. lighter than full-sized high-performance cars. In pure stock configuration, the 360 hp GTO could turn the quarter in 14.5 seconds at 100 mph. Dropping the exhausts, advancing the timing and bolting on a set of slicks dropped that to 14.06 at 102 mph. As the late Roger Huntington observed, "the quarter-mile times should win the B/Stock class on a good many dragstrips around the country on a given Sunday afternoon."

Because of the tremendous success enjoyed by Pontiac in 1965, with the GTO in particular and the entire product line in general, the division won the Motor Trend Car of the Year award for the entire product line-up. It was one of the last public accolades Pete Estes would field as general manager of Pontiac Motor Division. In June of 1965, Estes was promoted to general manager of Chevrolet and John Z. DeLorean was elevated to the top spot at Pontiac. The last member of the Knudsen-Estes-DeLorean triumvirate that would rule over Pontiac's successful reign as America's performance car builder was in the driver's seat. The number-three sales position firmly belonged to Pontiac, and with the brilliant young DeLorean at the helm, the future gleamed. DeLorean was attuned to the youth market and understood what it took to market cars like the GTO to the eighteen- to twenty-five-year-old market, which was coming into its own as a huge consumer base. Wangers continued to monitor the trends on the street and telegraph them to DeLorean. He recognized what image and profile accomplished, and that marketing was as important as styling and engineering.

"We put the GTO and its image in the drive-in and we put it in the record machine and we put it in the minds of young people," Wangers recollected with pride. "We began to equate the fact that a car was much like a suit of clothes or a pair of shoes. It was the kind of thing that you personified yourself with. And very quickly, almost overnight, there were young guys who were driving a GTO because the GTO had suddenly become accepted much the same as the Corvette had been. The GeeTO Tiger campaign and its success was really one of the most fun periods that any manufacturer went through."

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1965 GTO


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TITLE: Muscle Car Used Car History Vehicle History Report at Auto Lemon - Used Car History Check

Cars Directory : Auto, Automobile, Automotive, Car, Cars, Vehicle, Vehicles, Used Cars, New Cars, Used Car, New Car Price

Site Description: Car Consumer Reports and Consumer Guide on automobile, brake, buying car, car care, car cost, car safety, cooling system, drivetrain, electrical, exhaust, emission, fluid check, fuel system, ignition system, lubrication system, suspension and steering. Offers Free VIN Check, VIN Check

Cars Topics: car consumer reports on automobile, brake, buying car, car care, car cost, car safety, cooling system, drivetrain, electrical, exhaust, emission, fluid check, fuel system, ignition system, lubrication system, suspension and steering.