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What's the difference between a 1968 and 1969 GTO?
1968 cars had the handy vent window. Car thieves loved these.  They were easy to punch out.
6869 vent window comparison
'69s had no vent windows. Less fresh air. Less stolen cars for the 1969 model year.
In 1968, you could start the car and still pull the key out.
The locking ignition switch on the column was a good idea for 1969.
Bitchin' rear marker lights in the shape of an indian's arrowhead. Well, they had to change it to something for 1969.
'68 had a metal fan guard at the top portion of the radiator. no picture 1969 changed to a full plastic fan shroud.
The 1968 dashboard had a soft pad at the top, but had painted metal on the lower portion. no picture New dashboard for '69 was made of softer materials to absorb impacts and protect passengers from injury.
1968 attractive wraparound front parking lights are slick. Kinda large picture window design.  They had to add a separate light so the turn signal could be seen from the side.   Duh.
1968 chrome arrowhead emblem on the beak.  Aack!  Where did it go?
'68 had front fender emblem molded in metal with painted details. Spell it out.   Geee Teee Ohhh!
1968 tail lights integrated into the bumper. Lenses usually cracked with age.   Also, chrome tailpipe extensions came straight out from the rear bumper in '68.   See below for some fullsize examples. 1969 tail lights were moved above the bumper.   Also, chrome tailpipe extensions angled down and then straight out for '69.
Snazzy lower trim piece behind the rear wheel. This piece was deleted in mid-1969. You're lucky
since debris under this piece caused frequent rustout.
This 1968 grille design is clean and mean. 1969 egg crate grille with center bar.
No cool spoiler available for '68 Radical Judge spoiler available in '69.
Round shape of outside rearview mirror on '68 Rectangle shaped mirror on '69.
1968 cars had a Plain Jane seat pattern with vertical ribs. Headrests were an item that was rarely ordered. Fancier seats for '69 featured headrests standard and a vee shaped pattern on the seat back.   Also, folding seat release buttons moved from side to back for '69.
Under the hood... Early'68s had embarassing chicken wire covering the cowl vent holes.  That's a byproduct of an autoworker's strike that limited parts production.  A moulded plastic cowl cover, finally.   A few 1969's saw this improvement.

M.M. (ecg@erols.com) says the above "cowl cover" facts are not straight. He says in part: "I've never seen a 68 or 69 with the later- style (plastic) cowl screens, except for the few at shows that sport reproduction (plastic) ones as a result of unaware owners ordering them from the vendors which list the application incorrectly in their catalog."
Does anyone out there have an original 1969 car with the plastic cowl vent covers? If so, please email Sean here.

Dave Jones (dcjones@home.com) writes to us: "I believe one other difference between the 68 and 9 was the 69 had side collision metal inside the doors. I think it was a Federal mandated addition to all 1969 makes."


You will see a lot of variations in the way the exhaust exits in a 1968 or 1969 GTO.  The factory designed an attractive exhaust tip and angled the pipe out the back and into the tip just the right way.   Unfortunately, the tailpipe is one of those often-rusted and often-replaced parts.   The exhaust system may get changed several times over the lifetime of a car.   When a car needed a new tailpipe, an owner seldom had the correct extension (or tip) for the shop to install, so they improvised.   Here is a super visual guide so you can get your exhaust done the right way...

Click -> Here's how to do it right
Click -> Here's how NOT to do it
Click -> Here's how to do it right
Click -> Here's how NOT to do it

The correct exhaust tips are now available from all the major parts vendors such as Performance Years or Ames Performance Engineering.   After you obtain the right exhaust tips, print out the above visual examples and take them to the muffler shop with you.   The mechanic there will be able to see exactly what you want him to do!

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