New GTO coming around the bend
Wednesday, March 01, 2006 Joshua Dowling
Special to The Plain Dealer
Geneva, Switzerland- The Pontiac GTO isn't dead after all, says a top General Motors Corp. executive, who also hinted there might be a new ultra-fast Corvette coming.
The current GTO will be phased out at the end of this year, but an all-new model is expected to return at the end of 2008 as a 2009 model, said Bob Lutz, who heads GM's global vehicle development.
In an interview at the international auto show in Geneva, Switzerland, Lutz also suggested an even more powerful version of the Corvette might be on the way.
Industry insiders have talked about a "Blue Devil" Corvette that would be more powerful than the 505-horsepower Z06 that is currently the fastest Corvette.
Lutz stopped short of confirming that, saying: "There will be something special for the Corvette soon." When "Blue Devil" was mentioned, he simply smiled.
The GTO, however, is definitely on the way.
Last year, it appeared that GM had canceled any future GTOs as part of its efforts to reduce costs. And a Pontiac spokesman confirmed this year that the last GTOs would be sold this summer because the model wouldn't meet a new airbag standard taking effect in the fall. The spokesman said that the automaker would like to have another GTO but that there was nothing to announce.
But in the interview Tuesday, Lutz said the GTO plans were just off the shelf for a few months and he always wanted a new version.
The new GTO might be built in North America, particularly if the Chevrolet Camaro concept gets the go-ahead for production, he said.
Both the Pontiac GTO and Camaro could be based on GM's Zeta mechanical underpinnings, which are being developed by the company's Australian outpost, Holden, Lutz said.
With the current strength of the Australian dollar and the recent free-trade agreement between Australia and the United States, it would be more feasible to build the GTO in North America and export a version called the Holden Monaro to Australia, he said.
The GTO, which is based on the Monaro, has been built in Australia and shipped to America.
Dowling is motoring editor of the Sydney Morning Herald.