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WardsAuto.com covers the styling controversy
Posted 4/6/03  by Sean Mattingly
 
debut of the 2004 GTO The new GTO got some press coverage in March 2003.  Some of the major automotive press noticed that this website replaced the GTO "Picture of the Week" with an alternate car.  Here are two articles that were published by Wardsauto.com .  They are reprinted here with their permission.
Red 2004 concept GTO
GM Defends GTO Styling
By Brian Corbett
WardsAuto.com, Mar 24 2003
Replying to an online protest by a popular enthusiast website, General Motors Corp. is standing by the design of its forthcoming '04 Pontiac GTO, due out later this year.

For the first time since its inception seven years ago, ultimategto.com's picture of the week will not feature the muscle car. Founder Sean Mattingly says visitors to ultimategto.com - which is the most visited GTO website, according to the search engine google.com - "have overwhelmingly expressed concern over the new GTO's unexciting styling."

Beginning March 23, ultimategto.com will replace the GTO with a photo of the Ford Mustang concept car, widely considered the most popular vehicle on this year's auto show circuit. 

"To make a statement to GM, people urged me to replace the normal weekly GTO picture with that of the Mustang," says Mattingly.

Pontiac isn't surprised that some traditionalists are disappointed with the '04 GTO, which is a version of GM Australia-based subsidiary Holden Ltd.'s Monaro. 

"There are some people who are little bit disenchanted because they were expecting us to do a retro car," says GTO Marketing Manager Bob Kraut. "But that was never our intention. The marketplace has shown they don't really work that well. We didn't want a novelty. We wanted sustainability. It was always our intention to do a car that was clean, sporty and tasteful - like the original GTO."

Because the '04 GTO's styling doesn't resemble its predecessor, GM could have avoided upsetting enthusiasts by not reviving the nameplate. But Kraut says the '04 GTO upholds the marque's heritage because it is based on performance and value. The '04 GTO features rear-wheel drive, a 340-hp 5.7L V-8 engine and a price expected to range from $30,000 to $35,000. 

The original GTO also was created from another vehicle already in production, Kraut notes. "The original car was a (Pontiac) Tempest with a large engine in it," he says.

Pontiac claims the feedback it is receiving regarding the '04 GTO has been mostly positive, including a survey by Autobytel.com at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January that indicates GTO was the second-most popular vehicle among Gen Y - ahead of the Mustang concept and behind the Cadillac XLR. "The response we've been getting has really been thumbs up," Kraut says. "The majority of people - the automotive press, our suppliers, even our peers at other automotive companies - are saying we did the right thing with this car."

And while Mattingly's website is littered with opposition to the '04 GTO, only pictures of the '69 GTO are more popular with visitors to ultimategto.com. 

However, it was clear at the Detroit auto show in January that many members of the automotive media were disappointed with the '04 GTO's styling, a key aspect to any successful sports car. The '04 GTO's proximity to the Mustang on the show floor likely didn't help. 

The dissatisfaction has made its way to GM Vice Chairman-Product Development Bob Lutz, who led the charge to import the Australian-built Monaro as the GTO. In an e-mail to ultimategto.com, Lutz says GM's goal with the '04 GTO is to attract new customers rather than traditionalists. However, he reveals hood scoops will debut with the '05 model.

Kraut wouldn't say if scoops originally were planned or were added recently as a reactionary measure. GM wants to sell 18,000 GTOs annually. 

bcorbett@primediabusiness.com 

© 2003, Primedia Business Magazines and Media, a PRIMEDIA company. All rights reserved. This article is protected by United States copyright and other intellectual property laws and may not be reproduced, rewritten, distributed, redisseminated, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast, directly or indirectly, in any medium without the prior written permission of PRIMEDIA Business Corp.

Debut of the 2004 GTO After the March Oscar awards, Wardsauto.com posted this clever article.  It tied the new GTO's Australian roots into Australian Oscar winners.
Reprinted here with permission.
debut of the 2004 GTO
No Oscars for GTO
By Alisa Priddle
WardsAuto.com, Mar 26 2003
From Oscar-winning Nicole Kidman to cuddly koala bears and boomerangs, there is appeal in all thingsAustralian.

General Motors recognizes this. And it is tapping its Australian-based Holden unit for a new performance car for the U.S. The Holden Monaro will be imported as the next Pontiac GTO for North America.

And there is talk that it is but the start of a series of cooperative ventures between the two regions.

Many expect the midsize Chevy TrailBlazer SUV to be shipped Down Under. And when the all-new ’05 Chevy Equinox compact cross/utility goes into production at the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ont., Canada, it also is expected to have papers ready for the long trip to Australia.

For this market, the scuttlebutt is GM is interested in Holden’s Ute, a car-like, 2-door pickup, as well as either the Commodore or Caprice to give buyers here another souped-up sedan.

Detroit also has had its interest piqued by a pair of concept vehicles: Holden’s SSX all-wheel-drive sports sedan and the Cross8 Ute 4-door AWD pickup.

It’s a flurry of potential sharing, triggered by the move to use Australian sheet metal as the basis for the next GTO.

GM CEO Rick Wagoner admits Pontiac likely would not have an ’04 GTO in the works otherwise. And he applauds the synergistic move, saying, “Just because you didn’t (design a vehicle) all by yourself, from the ground up, does that mean it isn’t a legitimate GTO?”

But enthusiasts are not giving Wagoner the answer he sought.

An online protest has been launched by the website, ultimategto.com, which says site visitors “have overwhelmingly expressed concern over the new GTO’s unexciting styling.”

To show its displeasure, the site replaced a standard (for seven years’ running) weekly GTO photo with one of the new retro-looking Ford Mustang concept. Ouch!

It reminds me of the debate following the GTO’s unveiling prior to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. I sided with those who called it bland – it didn’t look fast or even like it was rear drive.

Others contend that is irrelevant. GTO fanatics won’t hesitate to buy a vehicle if it offers the performance and value of the original, they say.

GM says it ruled out a retro design, but kept the GTO name because the imported Monaro stands as a rear-drive sports car with a 5.7L V-8 producing 340 hp for a sticker expected to be range from
$30,000-$35,000 – and that is the essence of a GTO.

The beauty of a GTO is infinitely more than skin deep, the reprimand suggests.

Sorry, but I have the same complaint with other performance vehicles, such as Ford’s SVT series, that are little distinguished from the more affordable conventional vehicle from which they were derived.

Call me shallow, but I think the sheet metal should attempt to look the part, not just deliver an Oscar performance.

Nicole Kidman is living proof. 

apriddle@primediabusiness.com

© 2003, Primedia Business Magazines and Media, a PRIMEDIA company. All rights reserved. This article is protected by United States copyright and other intellectual property laws and may not be reproduced, rewritten, distributed, redisseminated, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast, directly or indirectly, in any medium without the prior written permission of PRIMEDIA Business Corp.

In case you missed it, here is the Mustang picture
that ran on this site's main page for a week...

Click -> GM get a clue! Picture Of The Week for 3/23/03

This Ford concept car was shown to the crowds at the winter Detroit Auto show.  People flocked to see this design that screams "Muscle Car" loud and clear.   Why?   Ford's design department was allowed to cultivate some of the themes that made the original car so popular, and grow more new enthusiasts.   Pontiac's styling efforts on the 2004 GTO, also present at the show, have not been as popular.

Here is an older "Picture of the Week" from 1/12/03...

Click -> Picture Of The Week for 1/12/03
It is the 2004 concept GTO on display at the LA Auto Show on January 3rd, 2003.. Mike Radke sent in these pictures.
Several readers have suggested that it would be wrong to bring back the GTO name without giving the car some "heritage" exterior styling cues.   Judge for yourself.

Posted 3/23/03

AutoWeek cover Yes, we love GTO's, but...
Here is the scoop in AutoWeek. This is all about our 3/23/03 "Mustang" Picture of the Week on this site.   The AutoWeek article is based on your viewer comments and your emails. 

  Our controversial "Mustang" story is also featured in The Australian, Australia's national daily newspaper.
 
 

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