66 GTO HISTORY

 

 

In '66, Pontiac made some improvements to the engine. The division went to larger carbs on the tripower option, now using Rochester 2GC carbs at all three locations. There was also a cold-air package on top of the tripower setup. The single 4-barrel engine was unchanged, still rating 335 hp at 5000 rpm and 431 ft.-lb. of torque at 3200 rpm. The tripower engine was still rated 360 hp at 5200 rpm and 424 ft.-lb. of torque at 3600 rpm, despite larger carburetors. Even the optional ram air setup didn't change the horsepower rating, in Pontiac's opinion.

Naturally, this made it easier for GTOs to dominate their class at the drags since the engine was actually putting out damn near its advertised horsepower. Few other car companies were smart enough to do this with their horsepower ratings until a few years later. This gave Pontiac a tremendous advantage in NHRA stock class competition.

But more horsepower wasn't the big story for '66. It was the new body style and it was a good one. It looked sharp and "now" and youthful and sporty and luxurious all at the same time. It was everything any young man could want in an automobile. And they accepted it. In spades.

Pontiac sold 96,946 GTOs in 1966, still the largest sales year in the GTO's history. But the bigger, heavier body was the beginning of the GTO's girth problem. The new body added size, weight and rear overhang. As a way of reducing weight, you could special-order a '66 GTO with all the sound deadener and sealers removed. This saved a lot of scraping if you were going racing, but made for a leaky car that rattled on the street. It was still to no avail. The '66 GTOs were up around 3650 pounds and climbing--almost the weight of a full-size '62 Catalina.

Halfway through the '66 model year, there was another in what seemed like an endless series of GM front-office crackdowns on racing and performance. This time, though, they were serious. No more super-performance options. No more multiple carburetion setups. No more racing-oriented advertising. And most of all, no more drag racing of factory-backed cars, even if the factory backing was out the back door.

 

 

 

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