Pontiac GTO was a spin off from the Australian arm of GM, Holden, which sold a coupe domestically called the Monaro. As Holden is the last bastian of rear wheel drive in the GM empire, attention was focused on the Monaro and it was decided that the car could be brought into the US as the new GTO. A few changes were made, most notably the fuel tank was relocated which ate into trunk space, and the nose was redesigned for a Pontiac look.
But like the Monaro the GTO never really took off. Once everyone who wanted a big coupe had bought one, demand fell way off and the car was discontinued in 2006, when production of the Monaro was stopped. The GTO was also criticized for lacking visual aggression, which didn’t help sales.
Pontiac shifted just 36,427 GTOs over three years when the company had expected 54,000. At one point, due to proposed CAFE standards, the new GTO was almost cancelled, but the GTO’s future is assured, by none other than Bob Lutz, GM’s Vice President.
The new GTO will appear next year, along with the Chevrolet Camaro. As before, the chassis will be from Holden, but this time it’s the new Zeta platform, which debuted in the Australian VE Commodore. The Camaro will also use the Zeta platform, which is exceptionally stiff, which bodes well for handling, Certainly the Holden products drive very well.
The 2009 Pontiac GTO should be available with an entry level 261 horsepower 3.6 liter DOHC V6 and a full on 362 horsepower LS2 6.0 liter V8, the same engines that are available in the Pontiac G8.
One thing’s for sure, the 2009 Pontiac GTO will have much more aggressive styling than the previous model, to emphasize the cars sporty and muscular nature. And thanks to the Zeta platform suspension handling should match the image. Suspension at the front is MacPherson strut, and at the rear is a ‘proper’ multi link suspension rather than the primitive semi trailing arm suspension of the previous GTO. The wheelbase is also longer, giving the car a more stable ride, while the overhangs have been shortened, which should give the car a very sporty look.
There’s some question over whether the car will be built by Holden and exported to the US or whether it will be built in the US. The GTO is being developed in Australia because of Holden’s experience with the Zeta platform, but Bob Lutz says the final decision on the location of assembly will come down to the exchange rate between the Australian and American dollars. You can bet your bottom dollar that the UAW (United Auto Workers union) will be campaigning hard for the car to be built in the US.