1970 GTO Built To Go Fast In Comfort and Style

1970_pontiac_GTO_side The Pontiac GTO is arguably the first of the muscle cars, starting a trend that had all the other manufacturers saying “me too!” within a few years. But by 1970, the GTO’s image was a bit different from that in 1964 – now it was a mature quasi-GT catering to adults. However, it was still possible to spec out a GTO for the racer at heart. Even among them, not all GTOs were created equal, as demonstrated by this GTO recently on eBay.

Nineteen seventy was a big year because the 455 was introduced, but it was not the GTO’s most powerful motor. As the first step up from the standard 400/350, the 455 was rated at 360 horsepower, which was six horsepower short (on paper) to the 400 Ram Air (commonly known as Ram Air III). The eBay GTO has the RAIII, which also was the same motor that was standard on the Judge.

The 400 Ram Air is also known as the Ram Air III in Pontiac circles. A lever under the dash opened the scoops.

Standard transmission for the Ram Air III, like most cars at the time, was a three-speed manual. Only 21 buyers opted for a three-speed RAIII GTO, which had the shifter on the floor and not on the column as was the practice for most non-performance cars. The four-speed was the most popular tranny behind this motor, but Pontiac offered two four-speeds: M20 wide-ratio and M21 close-ratio.

1970_pontiac_GTO_interiorPontiac didn’t give you a choice between the transmissions; rather, your choice of rear gears determined the transmission. Standard for the RAIII was a mid-range 3.55 open differential.

You could step down to a 3.23 (standard with AC), order Positraction for each, or move up to a 3.90 rear, which was only available with Posi. When you stepped up to the latter, you automatically got the close-ratio tranny. People who were serious about going fast ordered that gear.

So here you have a Ram Air III-equipped GTO, one of 226 built with the M21, with gears that aren’t the most friendly for highway driving but hit the sweet spot in the engine’s horsepower curve on the drag strip, not to mention regular street driving.

How could it get better? Atoll Blue. That’s what Pontiac called the dark blue that was common on all of GM’s muscle cars. Add a white vinyl top to set it off and you have a looker. Done drooling yet?

So take a look at the invoice that shows how this Goat was ordered by its first owner:

  • Vinyl top
    ssss

    The invoice from PHS lists all the options as well as the selling dealer.

  • 400 Ram Air
  • Safe-T-Track limited slip
  • G78 x 14 white walls
  • Remote mirror
  • Rally gauges
  • Power Steering
  • Power windows
  • Trunk lamp
  • Door-edge guards
  • Heavy-duty radiator
  • Décor group
  • 4-speed close-ratio
  • Special-order axle
  • Stereo radio
  • Rally II wheels
  • Console
  • Power disc brakes
  • Ride & handling package
  • Underhood lamp
  • Heavy-duty battery

Seller claims hood tach, Judge front spoiler, rear antenna, and 15 x 7 wheels are the only mods. Sold new at Mallon Suburban Motors in East Orange, NJ, its suggested retail price was a hair over $4666, which wasn’t chump change in 1970. But the price is irrelevant – this is one Goat that was built to look good and go fast in comfort.

1970_pontiac_GTO_front

About the author

Diego Rosenberg

Diego is an automotive historian with experience working in Detroit as well as the classic car hobby. He is a published automotive writer in print and online and has a network of like-minded aficionados to depend on for information that's not in the public domain.
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