Introduced in 1963, the Pontiac GTO is widely regarded as America’s first true muscle car, but that’s not exactly accurate since some carmakers offered high-power cars as early as the 1950s. Still, the GTO can be credited with popularizing the muscle car segment. And needless to say, it’s one of the hottest midsize rigs from the mid-1960s.
Quite popular at the time, the GTO isn’t particularly rare nowadays (unless we’re talking about Royal Bobcat models), but you’d have to get very lucky to see one at the drag strip. Well, if you’ve been longing to see the iconic Poncho charge down the quarter-mile, a 1964 version was spotted going against a 1970 Oldsmobile 442 at a Pure Stock Muscle Car Drag Race (PSMCDR) event.
And it’s no regular GTO, either. While the base version was no slouch at 325 horsepower, Pontiac also offered a “Tri-Power” option that added three two-barrel Rochester carburetors atop the 389-cubic-inch (6.4-liter) V8 engine. The upgrade increased output to 348 horsepower and 428 pound-feet (580 Nm) of torque. When it comes to 1964 GTOs, it doesn’t get better than this. Unless, again, it’s a dealer-prepped Royal Bobcat.
But what’s in the other lane? Well, the second classic muscle car taking part in this race is just as hot because it’s a 1970 Oldsmobile 442. Much like the GTO, it also came with a powerful V8 as standard, but this Olds is one of those rare and beefed-up W-30 models. Thanks to a few under-the-hood upgrades, it packs 370 horsepower and a whopping 500 pound-feet (678 Nm) of torque.
It sure sounds like the Olds has a bit of an advantage output-wise, but it’s also notably heavier than the GTO. However, because the PSMCDR series allows quite a few modifications to the drivetrain, these muscle cars may pack more punch than their standard siblings, so the outcome is difficult to predict.
The first race shows the 442 taking advantage of the Christmas tree and crossing the finish line two-tenths quicker than the Poncho. Specifically, the Olds runs the quarter-mile in 13.7 seconds, while the GTO needs 13.9 clicks to reach the line. Both cars inch past the 100-mph (161-kph) mark in the process.
The second duel is pretty similar to the first one. While the Pontiac driver covers the distance in the same 13.9 seconds, the Olds is a tad slower at 13.8 hits. But that’s enough to win the second round and advance thanks to the competition’s best-of-three format. But the drivers agreed to run the third race, which also ended with the 442’s victory (albeit both cars were slower).