During the early part of the 1960s, high performance was a thing that was exclusive to full-size cars and sedans. Although these cars did not have a fast acceleration, they were capable of blistering performances once they picked up speed. General Motors realized that all-round performance could be achieved with the combination of small cars and big engines, and therefore, the Pontiac GTO (Grand Tourismo Omologato) was introduced in the year 1964. This legendary hotrod would go down in history as the first true muscle car.

The 1964 Pontiac GTO was not exactly a very small car. It was actually an intermediate car, somewhere between a compact and a full-size. But the main attraction was its amazing performance. The GTO featured a powerful 389 cid V8 engine that could produce 325 hp, as well as a Carter AFB 4-barrel carburetor, dual exhaust, and premium clutch, suspension, and tires. It became an instant sensation among teenagers and adults of that time, and it sold a total of 32,450 units at the end of the year.

Sales for the Pontiac GTO rose in the next two years, reaching 96,946 units in 1966. In 1967, the engine was enlarged to 400 cid, and the options that were available included the 255-hp 2-barrel engine, the 335-hp 4-barrel, the 360-hp High Output, and the 360-hp Ram Air. The GTO got a major restyling the following year, and it featured a sleeker body and the all new Endura bumper, which gave the car better crash-resistance. This new GTO was named the “Car of the Year” by Motor Trend.