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Pontiac GTO is Back at ‘Full Tilt’

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General Motors plans a follow-up to today’s GTO, and a high Australian dollar means it will likely be built in North America

By GREG KABLE

AutoWeek | Published 03/02/06, 12:21 pm et

The Pontiac GTO lives! It will be replaced in late 2008 by an all-new model underpinned by General Motors’ latest rear-wheel-drive Zeta platform, with a strong likelihood of it being built on the same production line as the Chevrolet Camaro in North America.

That’s the message from General Motors vice president for global product development, Bob Lutz, at this week’s Geneva motor show.

The replacement for today’s slowish-selling GTO was canceled last year when General Motors announced it was reorganizing its North American operations and was set to focus its efforts on creating a new line of sport/utility vehicles, pickups and crossovers.

But Lutz has told AutoWeek that reports of the rear-wheel-drive coupe’s death were premature and the next-generation GTO’s development program was only really placed on hold, and—after some internal reorganization to ensure profitability targets can be met—it is now back on.

“The reason we said it was canceled is because that way our people would put their pencils down,” Lutz said. “In GM if you say something is deferred, then people keep working on it. We really needed to get that message through to everybody.” GM’s 74-year-old product guru said the program into which the GTO is incorporated was ‘getting out of control’ and running up costs that would have made it unworkable.

“It was my fault that it got out of control in the first place,” he added. “It was going to be the world’s greatest car and apparently cost nothing to make. So we’ve started over now. The program is back on and it’s going full tilt.”

Lutz confirmed that the GTO was “only ever off for two months, but that break has enabled us to get a more feasible program up.” The program he points to is General Motors’ Zeta rear-wheel-drive platform, which is being developed by Holden in Australia and set to underpin the new-generation Commodore due to be launched in August.

Besides Camaro and GTO, other models set to be based on the Zeta platform are upcoming replacements for the Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo, and a new car called the Buick Statesman, according to Lutz.

Contrary to rumors, however, Lutz said General Motors is not planning to revive the Pontiac Firebird. “No, that’s not something we are planning. We are not going to do that car,” he said.

When pushed on whether GM was thinking about bringing back the El Camino off the Zeta platform, Lutz beamed with enthusiasm. “The kids in the company, myself included, would love to do another El Camino, but the grown-ups amongst us don’t share that way of thinking,” he said. “It would be fairly simple. We’d only have to put a Chevrolet face on the Holden Ute [a car-like pickup sold in Australia]. The building blocks are there.”

Less sophisticated than the existing rear-wheel-drive Sigma platform found beneath the Cadillac STS and other high-end GM models, the Zeta architecture is said to be considerably cheaper to produce, owing to a simplified rear-suspension arrangement and other features.

Lutz suggests the individual character of GM models would not be compromised by basing them around one platform. “We have developed different dash-to-front-axle lengths for various models,” he said. “It [the Zeta platform] is a really flexible platform.”

Along with Australia and North America, Zeta-based rear-wheel-drive models are also being developed for sale in the Middle East and China. Details remain scarce, though GM’s business case for the new GTO is rumored to be based around sales of between 15,000 and 20,000 per year in North America. After a promising start, today’s model has failed to live up to initial estimates recording 13,569 sales in 2004 and just 11,590 in 2005.

Lutz confirmed that GM’s Australian subsidiary, Holden, would play a leading role in the engineering of the GTO [where it is sold as the Monaro] and its sister car, the Camaro. “Holden is responsible for the large rear-drive architecture that these cars are based on. If it happens, Holden will do the development on the Camaro as well as the GTO,” he told AutoWeek.

Despite being developed in Australia, however, there are strong indications the next GTO will be built in North America. “Whether the GTO will be built in Australia [as the current Pontiac GTO is] will largely depend on the [u.S. vs. Australian dollar] exchange rate at the time,” said Lutz. He added, “With the current strength of the Australian dollar and the recent Free Trade Agreement between Australia and the U.S., it would be more feasible to build the GTO in North America. This raises the possibility of both the new-generation GTO and Camaro being imported to Australia in right-hand-drive guise.

Production of today’s Pontiac GTO is planned to end in September, leaving GM with two years before the new Zeta-based model arrives in North American showrooms. As with the recently unveiled Chevrolet Camaro, it is expected to carry a more retro-inspired design with cues from earlier GTO models. Today’s model started life as the Holden Monaro and was never envisaged to carry the GTO badge, leading to complaints from North American buyers that it lacks any visual connection with the original.

http://www.autoweek.com/apps/pbcs.dll/arti...E/60302001/1039

This comes from the big guy himself. Enjoy! :dance:

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All good news... especially for knightfan and Camino

...

Besides Camaro and GTO, other models set to be based on the Zeta platform are upcoming replacements for the Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo, and a new car called the Buick Statesman, according to Lutz.

...

When pushed on whether GM was thinking about bringing back the El Camino off the Zeta platform, Lutz beamed with enthusiasm. “The kids in the company, myself included, would love to do another El Camino, but the grown-ups amongst us don’t share that way of thinking,” he said. “It would be fairly simple. We’d only have to put a Chevrolet face on the Holden Ute [a car-like pickup sold in Australia]. The building blocks are there.”

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This is definetly a most excellent article. Tons of good news for GM, now let's just hope that none of it goes to the chopping block!

I also hope the GTO remains a true two door coupe.

I'm wondering if the MC is now becoming the quad coupe because for some reason I didn't think that Chevy would want 2 coupes of size in it's lineup.

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Can they just kill the MC?  If they aren't going to make it amazing, they should just can it IMO.

I'm guessing it will just be a two-door Impala, making it cheap to do, and it will attract some buyers the Camaro won't.

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This is definetly a most excellent article. Tons of good news for GM, now let's just hope that none of it goes to the chopping block!

I also hope the GTO remains a true two door coupe.

I'm wondering if the MC is now becoming the quad coupe because for some reason I didn't think that Chevy would want 2 coupes of size in it's lineup.

this would be great, with a profile more like the CLS, gosh I love that car, has to be one of the most stylish cars on the road. that would kill in chevy's lineup.

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One thing about this article, is until I see program codes and the insiders are talking about it like it's going to come....I won't be certain of anything. It is good that Lutz wants the GTO again, BUT, Lutz probably wants a lot of everything, AND, GM has fluctuated too many times on thier plans to put a lot of faith in anything concrete right now. Too many changes of plans and disappointments to get my hopes up right now. But at least the Camaro is [mostly] definite!

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I'm beginning to think Chevy should've just canned the MC rather than refreshing it (though I guess NASCAR prevented them from doing so).

At least it would've put a limit on further damage to the MC name until a competitive model debuts.

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The GTO makes sense if you think about it. They need it to help make the business case for the Camaro. It's your lucky day guys, you got a two for one special.

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I'm very pleased to see this updated list of RWD cars coming from GM. It's perfect, and a return to the natural order. Man oh man, wouldn't I love to be a bird flying over the courtyard right now...

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One thing about this article, is until I see program codes and the insiders are talking about it like it's going to come....I won't be certain of anything. It is good that Lutz wants the GTO again, BUT, Lutz probably wants a lot of everything, AND, GM has fluctuated too many times on thier plans to put a lot of faith in anything concrete right now. Too many changes of plans and disappointments to get my hopes up right now. But at least the Camaro is [mostly] definite!

Browsing through the article I didn't see the "is expected" expression regarding the GTO, so there may be some solid news coming out.

This doesn't change my mind about the relevance of the GTO in recovering Pontiac (I think it's the core products that will be the deal breakers or makers in recovering Pontiac's image), but the Satesman news brings something that may keep the momentum I'm sure Buick will enjoy with the Enclave.

Edited by ZL-1

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I'm beginning to think Chevy should've just canned the MC rather than refreshing it (though I guess NASCAR prevented them from doing so). 

At least it would've put a limit on further damage to the MC name until a competitive model debuts.

im getting tired of people bashing th monte for being FWD i understand that traditionally a muscle car is RWD... i get that FWD isnt going to peform as good... but seriously... have you ever driven one? i own a 2004 supercharged ss... and its awesome... the acceleration is great... the exhaust note is great... the handling could be better but it is still really good... honestly people need to stop saying that its a disgrace... because its really not... its just different... big deal... and to be honest... id take my 240 horse s/c v6 over the late 80s RWD v8s with like... 150 horse anyday... sure those looked cool and were RWD.. but IMO... those where a bigger disgrace than the current ones... how can you say a 300 horse v8 is a disgrace for any car? not to mention the styling on them is awesome... they just look so mean... so pleez... try showing some respect for the car... its much better than you think it is

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im getting tired of people bashing th monte for being FWD i understand that traditionally a muscle car is RWD... i get that FWD isnt going to peform as good... but seriously... have you ever driven one? i own a 2004 supercharged ss... and its awesome... the acceleration is great... the exhaust note is great... the handling could be better but it is still really good... honestly people need to stop saying that its a disgrace... because its really not... its just different... big deal... and to be honest... id take my 240 horse s/c v6 over the late 80s RWD v8s with like... 150 horse anyday... sure those looked cool and were RWD.. but IMO... those where a bigger disgrace than the current ones... how can you say a 300 horse v8 is a disgrace for any car? not to mention the styling on them is awesome... they just look so mean... so pleez... try showing some respect for the car... its much better than you think it is

I agree. I just totally think they killed it on the last gen Montes (the really ugly, early 90s ones), and the pre-2006s definitely aren't my style (well, I have seen a few I've liked, but not many). And it's only been a few years that they've had the L67 under the hood, so that's where people are coming from in that respect, only having the 3.8 and 301 (3.4 too?) to choose from instead of something with "good" power (though I love my 3.8).

Either way, thank you, GM, for at least the L67 and 5.3 in the Montes. I can't wait to see a RWD one, though..

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oh yeah i cant wait to see a RWD one... thats gunna be awesome... and i totally agree with you on the 2 door luminas they sold back in the 90s... those were gross... they had the 3.8 so they had decent power but... the styling was terrible...

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oh yeah i cant wait to see a RWD one... thats gunna be awesome... and i totally agree with you on the 2 door luminas they sold back in the 90s... those were gross... they had the 3.8 so they had decent power but... the styling was terrible...

The '90s Lumina coupes and Montes were better looking than the '00-05 Montes, IMHO...the '00-05 were seriously ugly cars (esp. the front end and humped decklid treatment)..though the interiors were better in the later ones.

Edited by moltar

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well moltar... there was no such thing as a "lumina coupe" in the 90s... there was lumina and monte carlo... i refer to them as 2 door luminas bcuz they... while not exactly being ugly... were not sporty looking... if you parked one next to a lumina... the differences were not very many... as far as the 00-05 gen... the curved decklid ill agree with you... it looks weird... but if you look at the intimidator model... the one i have... it has a duck tail wing that gets rid of the odd look of that and actually makes the rear look very attractive... the front end... im always confused as to how people find it ugly... but if your saying that the car as a whole was ugly... and not including the 06 in that... then all you dont like is the front end... they changed almost nothing besides the front end and made the duck tail available even on LS... and carstar... yeah the backseat is huge... my mom has an 05 deville... and my cabin actually has more legroom in the back than hers does... the car is of a similar size as well... it is a huge car... you really have to see it in person to realize it

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well moltar... there was no such thing as a "lumina coupe" in the 90s... there was lumina and monte carlo... i refer to them as 2 door luminas bcuz they... while not exactly being ugly... were not sporty looking... if you parked one next to a lumina... the differences were not very many...

There was a Lumina coupe from '90-94. The Monte Carlo coupe was '95-99 (the second-generation Luminas were all sedans). I've seen the Intimidator ones..nothing Intimidating about them, IMHO. The headlight treatment of the '00-05 Montes looks ugly to me...and in profile, the long overhangs, etc.. just don't care for the styling. I had one as a rental once from Avis, though, and it drove ok..

'93 Lumina Z34 coupe:

Posted Image

Edited by moltar

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“The reason we said it was canceled is because that way our people would put their pencils down,” Lutz said. “In GM if you say something is deferred, then people keep working on it. We really needed to get that message through to everybody.”

If this is true, or even remotely true, we now have a new insight on why GM is so in trouble. When management needs to execute a stategy and the rank and file dutiful ignore it, you got problems. When management needs to lie to the employees to get them to stop screwing off and focus on something else, that's downright pathetic.

Mark

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One thing about this article, is until I see program codes and the insiders are talking about it like it's going to come....I won't be certain of anything. It is good that Lutz wants the GTO again, BUT, Lutz probably wants a lot of everything, AND, GM has fluctuated too many times on thier plans to put a lot of faith in anything concrete right now. Too many changes of plans and disappointments to get my hopes up right now. But at least the Camaro is [mostly] definite!

You're right. Bob Lutz is ONLY the Vice Chairman of Product Development of the General Motors Corperation, and THE final hurdle before the entire General Motors Product Planning Comittee votes to release funds that that order machinary, remodel plants & set up assembly lines, awards bids to suppliers, sets up final deadlines, sends reports to the Feds on EPA, CAFE, and Safety Complience.

No. Bob Lutz, doesn't know what he's talking about. It's all just Bob Lutz's "wants".

You're right. Better to wait and believe when the rumors start. It's more accurate than the official word.

Guess that means Camaro isn't really definite, does it???

BTW, FWIW, The cars DO have program codes. Camaro, GTO, and the sedans have different program codes. You aren't going to see them posted because they're classified. :AH-HA_wink:

Edited by guionM

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