1965 Pontiac GTO – the first generation of a legend

Another legendary classic American muscle car, the ‘GTO’ found fame as the car to have; parents didn’t realise just what it was, nor did insurance companies; every teenager when they got their first license wanted a GTO because it was cool, fast and relatively unknown as a muscle car. That of course was to change, the GTO went on to become one of the best-selling muscle cars ever. The first generation of the car is 1965 Pontiac GTO.

1965 Pontiac GTO ad

1965 Pontiac GTO Design

Available as a Coupe, hardtop and convertible, the two door hardtop being the most popular and selling in excess of 55,000 units. The ’65 GTO did have a hood scoop fitted but it was blanked off, it wasn’t until later that year (August) that the dealers offered a $30 kit to make them a genuine working scoop.

1965 Pontiac GTO brochure

The ’65 was the first year of the trademarked stacked headlights.

The convertible had just 5 options for hood color; black, beige, turquoise, blue and white, whereas the exterior had up to 15 color choices, and you could also specify a Cordova vinyl roof (black and beige).

1965 Pontiac GTO design

1965 Pontiac GTO Interior

Inside the car was pretty much as you’d expect, and surprisingly for a model of this year, Pontiac never offered bench seats, only buckets. The interior trim was a very durable Morrokide vinyl, the seat pattern was diamond appliques featuring the Pontiac crest. A deep dish 3-spoke Custom Sports steering wheel was an option, as was the Rally gauge instrument cluster, adding a tacho, water temperature and oil pressure gauge. You could add an AM/FM radio, a/c and power windows, but you could also remove certain items from the build (for ‘racing’) – things like the heater. And for the most bizarre upgrade; there was an optional chrome tissue dispenser, but that had to be fitted at the factory.

1965 Pontiac GTO interior

1965 Pontiac GTO Specs

206” Length 115” Wheelbase
Transmission was either 3 or 4-speed manual or a two speed auto; the Super Turbine 300. Standard transmission fitted was the three speed manual with a floor shifter.
Original prices started at $2,787 and went up to $3,093 depending on specification.

1965 Pontiac GTO specs

1965 Pontiac GTO Performance

There were two different options offered; 389 cid (6.37 liter) with 335 BHP and the Tri-Power 389 cid with 360 BHP. The Tri-Power was fitted with three Rochester two-barrelled carburetors bolted on and a new camshaft. Performance was pretty reasonable for the day: the 335 BHP V8 doing 0 – 60 in 6.6 seconds and the Tri-Power doing it in 5.8 seconds.

1965 Pontiac GTO convertible

1965 Pontiac GTO Collectability and price

Prices are pretty reasonable, although they are climbing. Depending on the exact spec of the vehicle (the convertible Tri-Power being the most expensive), you could be looking at anywhere between $17,000 for a fair example and up to $110,000 for a concours example.

1965 Pontiac GTO images

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