Although produced for only ten short years, the Pontiac GTO was quick to infiltrate Americana’s self-propelled mythology. Embedded within culture’s now-celebrated 1960s muscle car scene, it came as no surprise when hate amassed over the 2004 rebirth. You could never replace the original.
Littering film sets from the likes of Dazed and Confused to Magnum PI, there is no questioning the GTO’s legacy. Once a stalwart gem in General Motors multi-marque crown, any ‘proper’ GTO currently makes for a wise investment. If you can decipher the plethora of engine and option codes, then you’ll be able to bag a properly rare example, too. Such as this beast – the seldom seen Ram Air III convertible.
Offered with more engine options than IKEA could shake a catalogue at, eclectic badges such as ‘Ram Air’ and ‘The Judge’ adorned sales brochures throughout the GTO’s factory run. And, unlike various vehicular imposters, the exciting names came with lashings of power - output figures breached the 370hp barrier with certain engines.
The highly-respected Judge package was offered as a no-thrills alternative to the Plymouth Roadrunner, seizing that delicious sector of the market share pie. However, if seeking proper exclusivity, you’ll want to bypass the Judge and head straight for a Ram Air III.
Ram Air packages proved powerful enough to find General Motors capping horsepower for safety’s sake. As a result, enthusiasts can enjoy a sly chuckle at the sales brochures of the day, where power outputs are listed with hilariously low rpm figures to help conform to misunderstood company politics.
That said, if you pushed them hard enough, the Ram Air was apparently known for self-detonation. Rods and pistons were a regular sight on roads graced with the Ram Air, and as such, modern pickings often employ alternative engines; making matching numbers vehicles particularly rare. In some guises, they are even extinct.
Despite 40,149 GTO’s rolling off the production line in 1970, only 3615 were convertibles, and of those only 114 were 366hp Ram Air IIIs with an automatic transmission. Now rarer than a decent episode of The Simpsons, one of these very examples is headed for auction.
Naturally, claiming the vehicle as ‘one of only 114 made’ doesn’t account for survival rate. How many of those are still with us today remains up for discussion, but with time’s onward march we can bet less than half survive; which can only mean its investment potential is even higher.
The Ram Air option codes made for some rather unique engine modifications. Packages began back in 1966, under the engine code XS. Such trivia seems known only by true marque enthusiasts, as these models weren’t officially advertised as such in brochures until the following model year, although allegedly not all dealers received the memo.
Having received a frame-up restoration, this Ram Air III is garnished with fresh Code 75 Cardinal Red paint and a highly desirable original factory vinyl stripe. Date coded Rally II wheels complete this stunning example, along with confirmation of matching numbers drivetrain.
For more details of the lot and the auction, click here.
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