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GTO Adds Horsepower to New USA Network Production
posted 3/8/04 by Sean Mattingly, copied word-for-word off a GM press release with graphics courtesy of various sources

For release:  March 9, 2004, 11 a.m.

Pontiac Breaks New Ground With Marketing Collaboration
DETROIT –  The new Pontiac GTO will lend its on-screen “performance” to a new film by Rob Cohen, director of The Fast and the Furious and xXxThe Last Ride will debut as a new theatrical-release-for-television event in the second quarter 2004 on USA Network.

The Last Ride is an action-packed, wild ride starring Dennis Hopper (Easy Rider, Speed, Blue Velvet), Will Patton (Gone in Sixty Seconds, Armageddon, The Agency), Fred Ward (The Right Stuff, The Player, Road Trip ) and Chris Carmack (The O.C., Bring it on Again ).

Dennis Hopper

Will Patton

Fred Ward

Chris Carmack
When a notorious convict is paroled, three generations of men are fueled by rebellion and driven by revenge as they confront ghosts from their past.  The GTO, in both its classic and modern form, serves as an important “character” within the story.

“Rob’s use of the GTO in the film taps into both the history and essence of the car,” said Mark-Hans Richer, Pontiac advertising and sales promotion director.  “Much more than just being a backdrop to the action, the new GTO is an integral part of the plot and should make quite an impression on viewers, just as many classic Pontiac products have done in the past.”

Cohen had already developed a relationship with Pontiac and an appreciation for the GTO.  He featured a 1967 GTO in his 2002 hit “xXx” and recently filmed three television advertisements for the introduction of the 2004 model.  With the history of the car in mind, Cohen crafted a story about how the car played heavily in one family’s life.
Rob Cohen, Director
Rob Cohen, Director
“While directing the commercials for the GTO, I was talking to Dino Bernacchi (Pontiac’s advertising manager) about how intimately and intricately woven this car is woven into the American fabric,” said Cohen.  “I was surfing in Venice the next morning when an idea about three generations in one family, all gearheads, and their relationship to the GTO came to me right before an epic wipeout.  I survived, however, and the movie was born.”

For Pontiac, the movie presents a unique opportunity to market and promote a film with the star power and production values of a theatrical release but for a television audience.
Steve Tihanyi, 
GM marketing
“With Rob and USA Network focusing on creating a great movie, Pontiac and GM will concentrate on making this a ‘must-see’ event through creative marketing and promotion,” said Steve Tihanyi, general director of General Motors marketing alliances and promotions.  “With GM’s emphasis on actively pursuing new relationships in the entertainment industry, this level of collaboration is exactly the type of commitment we like to bring to the table.”
Kevin McAuliffe,
Universal TV
“This project is an excellent example of the kind of innovative marketing opportunity we are always looking for,” said Kevin McAuliffe, senior vice president, integrated brand entertainment for Universal Television Networks.  “As valued clients and forward-thinking industry leaders, Pontiac and GM are the perfect marketing partners for this groundbreaking project.”

Collaborating throughout the development process, USA Network and GM plan to take full advantage of marketing, advertising and promotional efforts.

Dino Bernacchi, 
Pontiac advertising
“Normally, a marketing partner is brought in late in the process after script is complete and production has begun, making it more difficult to realize the full potential of a project,” said Bernacchi. “Because we already had a great relationship with Rob, and USA Network really wanted to do something different, we think we can work together to market a great piece of entertainment that will really stand out from the other clutter in the marketplace.”

The Last Ride will be filmed in the San Diego area with principle photography scheduled to begin in mid-March.

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Background info on the companies involved:

Pontiac is a division of General Motors Corporation (NYSE: GM) and markets the Bonneville, GTO, Grand Prix, Grand Am, Vibe, Sunfire, Aztek and Montana. Pontiac sold more than 475,000 vehicles in 2003, ranking third among GM divisions in total sales.   In 2004, Pontiac will introduce the Montana SV6 crossover sport van and G6 sedan, followed in 2005 by the G6 coupe and convertible and the Solstice roadster.  More information on Pontiac and its products can be found on the division’s website at

USA Network is cable television’s leading provider of original series and feature movies, sports events, off-net television shows, and blockbuster theatrical films. USA Network is available in 81% of all U.S. homes and is seen in nearly 87 million U.S. homes. The USA Network Web site is located at

USA Network is a program service of Universal Television Networks, part of the Universal Television Group a division of Vivendi Universal Entertainment (VUE) (, the U.S.-based film, television and recreation entity of Vivendi Universal, a global media and communications company.

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We attended the VIP premiere of the movie called The Last Ride and got some photos of the new GTO with hood scoops. Click to see the photo collection:

Here were the 2004 kickoff air dates for viewing the USA Network Movie "The Last Ride" with Dennis Hopper & the new Pontiac GTO. Note these times are eastern time zone.
Wed June 2nd 8:00 PM & 10 PM, Fri June 4th 1:00 AM, Sat June 5th 2:00 PM, Sun June 6th 1:00 AM, Mon June 7th 8:00 PM

Here is our Last Ride photo collection

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Says Jabadday Boombabwe ( -"I play de steel drum all day for de tropical tourists. I made a steel drum out of de inverted roof of a 1968 GTO. We trew de rest of de car in de deep blue sea."