The 1970 Pontiac GTO 455 Was Brawny and Powerful
In our fourth installment this week of June 2016’s Ride of the Month we feature the 1970 Pontiac GTO 455 presented by nominee Randy Greene. Here is some general information about the vehicle.
Note: This is not information about the actual vehicle nominated for June’s Ride of the Month, just general information on the vehicle itself. Please check the link at the bottom of today’s article to view all the actual vehicles nominated for this month’s Ride of the Month.
The second-generation Pontiac GTO, with its flowing semi-fastback styling, relatively compact wheelbase and impressive performance, is one of the most iconic models to come out of the muscle car’s golden era. The GTO was a popular seller at the time and remains a sought-after target for collectors today, and few iterations can match the brawny 1970 Pontiac GTO 455.
For most of its early run, the venerable A-body platform was subject to a corporate policy limiting the maximum engine size available. Beginning at 330 cubic inches in 1964, the limit was increased to 400 cubic inches in 1965. In 1970, General Motors removed the limit altogether. The result was the 1970 Pontiac GTO 455, which was stuffed with a beefy 455 HO V8 long-stroke engine. Rated conservatively at 360 horsepower and producing a tremendous 500 pound-feet of torque, the 455 HO gave the GTO the powerful aggression needed to appeal to performance-minded buyers.
In keeping with its tendency toward modest mid-generation restylings, the 1970 GTO featured a number of aesthetic changes over the previous year. The hidden headlight design was ditched in favor of four rounded headlamps set into deep bezels. Narrower grille openings and a slightly reshaped nose completed the front-end redesign, while the distinctive color-matched Endura urethane bumper was retained. The front fenders and rear quarter panels were given striking “eyebrow” contours, sweeping nearly from the nose through the doors and picking up again over the length of the rear panels.
Why the ’70 GTO 455 Bcame A Missed Opportunity
While the 1970 Pontiac GTO 455 certainly didn’t lack power, many muscle car enthusiasts recognize the model as a missed opportunity for GM and Pontiac. The manufacturer had originally intended to fit the 1970 GTO with the legendary 455 cubic inch Ram Air V engine, complete with tunnel port heads. The engine would have ranked the Pontiac GTO 455 as one of the most powerful muscle cars ever to roll off the assembly line, but it was not to be. Concerned about the coming transition to unleaded gasoline, and the reduced compression ratios associated with the switch, GM abandoned the project at the last minute in favor of the more traditional 455 engine.