In 1966 the Pontiac Motor Division of General Motors revamped the GTO. The A-body automobile built on the General Motors intermediate platform saw some major changes. The body was redesigned, the center carburetor got larger, the interior was all new and the most significant change on the GTO was it received its own series of vehicle identification numbers with a 242 designation. The GTO’s body design changed dramatically as did all General Motors A-Body platform automobiles. The Pontiac GTO benefitted the most from this redesign with over 96,000 units sold.
The new design started at the front. The split-grill was retained but it was now plastic and the parking lamps were cast into the plastic grill inserts. The front Pontiac crest emblem was moved to the hood with the same crest emblem and hood used on the 1965 model. A bright rocker panel molding was installed extending from the rear of the front wheel well opening to the front of the rear wheel well opening. This molding enhanced the front and rear wheel opening molding. The 6.5 Litre emblem remained on the bottom of the front fenders. The rear quarter panels used a GTO emblem and the bottom right corner of the deck lid used the same GTO emblem but smaller. The rooftop design was new with sail panels that extended back into the rear quarter panels for a semi-fastback style. The side glass was now curved and the rear window was more vertically set into the sail panels. The rear quarter panels lost most of their straight lines and curved up toward the sail panels. This new look earned the GTO it’s “Coke Bottle Styling”. The tail light panel was all new with the “PONTIAC” name spelled out between the tail lamps with individual letters. Bright eyebrow trim accented the tail lamp louvers. The sportiest wheels available are the “Rally Ones”. These steel wheels are painted silver with a painted black and bright center. The wheels have the 7.75 x 14 inch US Royal redline Tiger Paws tires installed.
The interior was completely redesigned. With the standard dash gauges you would get a combination off warning lights, a speedometer and a fuel gauge in a similar four pod design as previous year’s . The far right pod contained nothing or you could get the optional Rally clock. The Rally clock was only available with the standard dash cluster. If you wanted, there was an optional Rally gauge cluster. This cluster had an 8,000 RPM engine tachometer with a red-line of 5,200 RPM installed in the right center pod. The fuel and amp meter gauge were in the far left pod. A 120 MPH speedometer and odometer were contained in the left center pod. With the rally gauge’s and tachometer, the water temperature and oil pressure gauges were in the far right hand pod. This optional gauge cluster, with the four pod set up, had no pod space available for the Rally clock. The face of the gauge cluster had an appliqué of real wood. The dash pad extended from door to door with a deep overhang above the gauges. The grab bar above the glove box was restyled from the 1965 model. The inside trim and the seats were plush and luxurious as in the big Pontiac models. The carpeting on the floor was door to door and the vinyl front bucket seats now had a horizontal ribbed-pattern with optional headrests. The passenger side seat had a reclining option also. The 1966 GTO interior had many other options inside as well, a tilt steering column, power windows, a power driver’s side seat and a AM-FM radio. The custom sport type wood steering wheel was another option unchanged from 1965. A new and not so popular option in 1966 was the red plastic fender liners, so today they are very desirable. The engine and drivetrain was virtually the same as 1965. The only significant new changes were a redesigned cylinder head and a larger center carburetor on the tri-power engine. A new Ram Air engine package was available for the tri-power engine. Having the XS designation, this optional engine had a new camshaft and was released quetly in February of 1966. There were a set of mandatory options required with this new engine. A 4-speed close-ratio standard transmission, a limited-slip rear end with a 4.33 to 1 gear ratio, a heavy-duty cooling fan and metallic brake linings. The 1966 model year saw the last time the tri-power carburetors were available and the 389 cubic inch engine. Bring on the “400”, Some cruise nights continue until the end of October, so do not let the season end. Go to the Hudson, New Hampshire Burger King at 219 Lowell Rd. from 6 to 9 PM on Monday’s