Forgotten Goat: 1973 Pontiac GTO

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I remember the early seventies well – the period when muscle car power was in decline. Many thought it was driven by high insurance rates, but maybe the demographics really were changing. Either way, the rise of emissions controls made it hard for Detroit engineers to provide both power and clean tailpipes. By 1973, when this GTO was produced, most muscle cars were shadows of their former selves, and on top of that, GM’s midsize cars were getting bigger and heavier at the same time as horsepower ratings were dropping.

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In 1973, most of the erstwhile hot cars from GM became more or less trim options, like the Olds 442, Chevy Malibu SS, and the Buick Gran Sport. All did feature motor options with decent power, but nothing close to what had been offered formerly. Pontiac did maintain a stronger commitment to performance, offering both the 400 and the more muscular 455, and even made a Super Duty version with 310 horsepower, the most you could buy that year in America. Sales of muscle cars were in serious decline and the ’73 model year marked the end of midsized convertibles for General Motors as well.

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Of all the 73-77 GM A-bodies, I think the Pontiacs (LeMans, GTO and Can Am) are the most appealing. I am not sure why the owner of this decent looking 73 GTO claims it is a barn find, but he does. There is nothing about that in the ad, but it’s pretty attractive – 56K original miles, numbers matching engine, posi rear. Only the base 400 V-8 so not the most powerful model. Quarters need work, floors, frame and trunk claimed in good shape (no photos however), and it comes with NOS front fenders and “some parts for restoration.”

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The owner says there were only 282 of this model (Sport Coupe) produced in 1973, which makes it rare and well worth saving. He has had it a long time and wants it to go to a good home. Located in Massachusetts, near Springfield, Mass, and here on Hartford’s craiglist for $3000, this seems like a bargain someone should jump on right away (and probably will go fast – pun intended). Wish we had more and better pictures but at this price, someone will be dealing with it all very soon. This is one of the nicer looking examples of this model I have seen in a long time.

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There’s a nice detailed article about the 73 GTO here on Hemmings. What do you guys think – is this your next project?

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Comments

  1. randy

    I’d drive it, even though I consider it a “poser”. I bought my wife at the time a ’75 LeMans, same body style, and a great looking car.

    The price is reasonable I feel.

  2. dj

    Randy,
    It actually is a “poser”. 1973 GTO had rear quarter window louvers. This car doesn’t. So it’s a Lemans.

    • Bruce E

      And no GTO decal on the fenders….???? I think I’d like a pic of the Vin, or trim plate…

      • Mitch

        I had a true ’73 GTO… Louvers on both rear side quarter glass… GTO 400 CID On front Qtr. Panels…. bucket seats, Muncie 4 speed, etc… that looks like a LeMans.

  3. Luke Fitzgerald

    Yuck – try 300

  4. Barry T

    Sorry, but this is a GTO.

    Like 1
    • JW

      OMG Barry you got a picture of my first musclecar, yes I have to agree and IMHO almost every car maker in the 70’s had their fair share of step child models. No disrespect to anyone who has or loves them.

      Like 1
  5. Kincer Dave Member

    Yeah it really needs a vin check, this doesn’t match up with all the pics I’ve seen, the only thing that is the same are the hood and grill emblem.

  6. Blindmarc

    Never saw one with a vinyl top either. Don’t think the 73 gto came with it.

    • Mike

      I hate to pop your bubble, but my Sister has a 73 GTO and it has a Vinyl top on it. It was replaced about 10 years ago by a good friend of my Dad’s. This GTO was bought brand new for my Mom, and after Mom got tired of it, Dad gave it to Sis. Her oldest Son has his eye on it, but it is her daily driver.
      It is Black on Black with Red interior. If I can get a chance and get a picture of it, I will post it.

  7. DRV

    I drove the LeMans version in the day…the worst car except for a Maverick. The back was so light and front so wide and heavy that I can’t imagine driving it now. The door bottoms were rotten and then gone in 5 years. Pure junk…

    • Rich

      It’s a GM! What can you expect?
      Just kidding you all but I have been a long time Mopar fan and have owned 3 of the Best but the 73 Cuda with a built 340 Slapstick Auto tranny, was a GM product killer as far as street cars go in the area of NW Ohio late 70’s.
      Closest race I had was a 68 or abouts Elcamino with a 327 4 speed built up good as well. Cuda had a helluva good hole shot and that is key thing to winning “Lakewood” traction bars with L 60’s posi trac just launched out and was slamming 2nd in no time then I was gone and pulled away from the other car if they were even close to me.
      Great memories!

  8. Mark E

    I’ve tried to forget about this era…one of my cousins had one of these LeMans with a GTO trim option. Very sad…

  9. George

    I did some checking, because it’s monday… Everything was an option back then. Even within the packages. On top of the GTO option, definitely illustrated by the hood, the side window louvers and even the stripes cost extra.

    • dj

      Actually, if it didn’t have the louvers, it was a Lemans GT. The GTO package came with the louvers in either model. So this car could be a Lemans GT(with hood vents) and someone added the GTO grill emblem. They also came with the vinyl roof if you got the Sport Coupe. The only way to prove what it is would be by PHS documents.

      • steve

        The GTO did come with or without the rear window louvers in 73, but with them was much more common (~4200 made with compared to ~500 without) and the GT came both with and without as well, but you are correct PHS documentation is prettymuch needed to prove anything.
        I own a 73 Lemans GT phs documented with the window louvers, special paint, and a few more wierd options

  10. AMCFAN

    Assuming it is a “real” GTO still nothing to brag about. The condition dictates that you would be upside down in a matter of seconds after purchase. About 10 years ago a friend had a 73 Chevelle SS which is the sister car to the above. It had 70K miles 350/4spd,tilt,tach and swivel buckets and console. It had a very nice body and even came with a window sticker. The problem every time someone asked about it was followed up with “Man if it was a 1970” meaning anything but a 73. This also reflected when he tried to sell it. Put it on ebay and with a reserve of $2500 high bid was only $1100. This happened a few times and was surprising to me. I figured a GM guy would be all over it. Seems they are fickle when it comes to the 73. It was a nice car. He bought a 73 Nova SS with no motor or trans. You guessed it. Pulled the driveline out of the Chevelle put it in the Nova. Sold the Chevelle which had no rust for $850. Still has the Nova.

    • randy

      I surely do not remember the ’73 Chevelle, was it also called a Laguna? 2 Big round headlights?
      ’73 was a very strange year indeed.

      • Vince Habel

        Laguna was the up scale chevelle. The Laguna S3 was the sporty coupe. Some of them had a 454.

  11. Brad

    This was my 1975 LeMans from High school and loved the handling and ride of the car so would love to have the 73 GTO !
    Put some GTO decals and stripes along with new bigger tires and that car would look sweet.

    Like 1
    • Mike

      Nice Car

  12. Braktrcr

    I am far from an expert, but as I remember all cars in 73 had the 5mph front crash bumper. The rear crash bumper came in 74 or 75 I think. Doesn’t this car look like the rear bumper is also a crash bumper?
    I agree with the others, a very dark time in automotive history

  13. Wayne Thomas

    A few years ago, I wrote to Muscle Car Television and asked them to look into the 1970s cars because 1960s cars were getting out of the reach of a lot of enthusiasts due to things like drunk guys at BJ auctions looking to get on television. Project Blue Collar Buick came not long after (Not saying it was me alone who prompted this project but Trucks did a kit car truck a few short months after I emailed them about doing one for a project)

    Malaise Era cars are great sleeper projects because with modern suspension and tires (the real culprits to crappy handling) and say an LS swap, you’ve got a more than capable car for far less money then a newer and far more common car.

  14. AMCFAN

    1971 was the last year for Vin specific GTO’s. In 72 and beyond became a trim option. I do like the Pontiac Can-Am which is based on this body style. Which if I am not mistaken looks like it uses the same hood as on this 73. The Can-AM does not look as much like a poser but as a personal luxo performance car.
    The Laguna S-3 I always thought were cool too. I think Oldsmobile pulled it off best with this body style with the Cutlass. Still look classy today.

  15. charlie Member

    The ’73 on midsize GM’s rusted far faster than the ’68 – ’72’s, and had more gas guzzling, power robbing emission controls, so less attractive to anyone, looks aside.

    • John DeepFreeze

      My farmer uncle at the time had a ‘73 GMC that rusted away in a few yrs. He said that 73-4 they used recycled metal and didn’t or couldn’t prep it properly. As a result there were a lot of rust buckets from that period.

  16. Jasper

    I had a ’73 Grand Am. It was mechanically great but had rust in all the usual nooks and crannies. Really a great car for its size and era. And yes, I believe you had to order the sport coupe option to get the louvered quarter windows on a GTO. Remember someone at the A Body Site had a ’73 LeMans wagon ordered with a 400-4 and a four speed and some other cool driveline stuff. He was planning a resto. Talk about some scarce, specific bits to hunt down.
    These Pontiac Colonnades are cool in an Elvis jumpsuit kind of way. Especially a white Grand Or Can Am or the most of all, the “All American” show car.

  17. Tom

    Given my intimate knowledge of New England weather, the person interested has to look closely underneath. Frame rails and everything else could be in sad shape.

    It is pretty certain the car has been outside a long time. The second shot is of the car on the grass with leaves on the trees, and the grass growing up a bit.

    These cars were prone to rust, as this one shows, and in its 43 year, perhaps in New England, go there skeptical and be pleasantly surprised.

    I serious can’t count how many cars and trucks I’d get all jazzed about, only to find a mess.

  18. Jack

    This really looks like a Lemans with an added NASA hood

    • Nick p

      NASA. Hahahahahahahaha

      Like 3
  19. piper62j

    Too big.. Too bulky to be quick GTO..

  20. Steve

    My uncle had one of these back in the day. Not really a fast car but who we kidding even the original muscle cars weren’t as fast as what you can buy today. I remember driving it and at the time having a car that could break the tires loose and do a burnout was exciting. It rode nice handled well and was a comfortable cruiser. I’d be all over it if it was close to me. I can’t tell if its real or not but you could buy one with or with out the quarter louvers……after being in and driving one with the louvers I would probably prefer one with out. I like to see out of the car when I drive.

  21. Sal Pezzolla

    I purchased this car and just received PHS back on the car. It is in fact a true GTO with air conditioning and 3 speed on the column. The reason for no louvers over the rear windows is because it is a “coupe” not a “sport coupe.” The coupe being the rarer of the two with 282 produced with the 400/TH automatic. If anybody’s interested car may be back up for sale at the right price.

    Like 1
  22. John

    GTO for 1973 was an option package on the LeMans Sport Coupe. In turn, the Sport Coupe was available both with and without louvers. Ergo: GTO could be had w sail panel window option, albeit rare. Most everyone liked the louvers.The NACA hood was also an option.National Aeronautics Commission of America( or similar). The idea for this air scoop was from some WWII fighters. There were a dozen or so functional scoops made, then dt expense, they went w fake cosmetic ones.
    The MAIN upset for 1973 was the corporate information as well as prototypes built with the legendary Super Duty (SD) 455 cu.in. V8. Pontiac let a major car magazine test a GTO or Grand Am w the SD455 and 4sp manual. They rated it hands down the intermediate to purchase period. In evil bait and switch fashion, GM pulled the SD455 from the option list in GA and GTO leaving only the TA with that option. While they claimed production difficulties, they were getting severe pressure from insurance and environmental lobbyists in DC. Always politics.
    Another factoid: The Grand Am body style was to BE the GTO for 1972. Due to a UAW strike, and production delays,take a look at 1971 and 1972 Grand Prixs. They are almost identical. That was NOT done back then. That was also dt the strike. Pontiac created the Grand Am for 1973 in response to market inroad competition from Mercedes and BMW. The Europeans combined lux and sport in the SAME car.
    Americans hadn’t done that. Pontiac reasoned it’s lux car:Grand Prix. It’s sports car:TransAm. Mate these:Grand Am.
    They stole the intended GTO body, slapped the Grand Prix interior and options in it and rebadged it Grand Am. The GTO was relegated to an option package for LeMans Sport Coupe.
    The GA. Was fairly well received,but all intermediates, especially performance we’re doomed by the OPEC oil embargo.
    What sold after that was BIG luxury and SMALL economy and little to nothing between.The 1974 GTO was either a joke or an insult. Most Pontiac enthusiasts consider the 1973 as last of the true GTO’s.
    Pontiac Snobs consider 1972 as the end of GTO. I have owned a LeMans Sport Coupe in Fluorentine red with louvers and currently own a Grand Am 1973 w factory 4sp. Love these cars.

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