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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Johnny Lightning 1973 Pontiac GTO and M2 Machines 1969 Pontiac GTO

It's no surprise that i'm a huge fan of the Pontiac GTO's, especially the ones with "The Judge" package, but here's a few GTO's that you normally don't see everyday: vinyl roofs on coupe models.  Sure there were plenty of other models in the 1960's and 1970's that sported those vinyl-padded tops that went over the existing roof and unfortunately caused rusted roofs as well, but on GTO's?  Now that's something unique.

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M2 Machines 1969 Pontiac GTO

Now I have profiled the M2 Machines 1969 GTO many of times and this was one of the first Detroit Muscle cars that M2 made when the line first came out years ago.  This is another of the Driver's series and as mentioned in past reviews the Driver's are low-priced models that lack opening hoods, doors, or a metal base, but make up for it with perfect bodyline fitment.  I don't know how I passed this one but I did find this one in a clearance section (for the same regular price!) and I was amazed at the look of the car.  It has a sharp red color that goes well with the vinyl top, and that top has a textured look that feels great along your fingers.  The rest of the car almost has that top-end Judge package look but without the graphics or hood-mounted tachometer.

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The front has that Endura center bumper with split black grilles and silver GTO letters, while the lower bumper has the square signal lights.  The hood, while non-opening, still has the dual Ram Air scoops, while the sides have detailed chrome trim, GTO letters on the front fenders, and 5-spoke mag wheels with Goodyear lettering on rubber tires.  The rear has that wrap-around rear spoiler with rectangular taillights that straddle the chrome rear bumper and chrome trim just above.  The interior also has a nice touch decked out in white with seating for four, detailed door panels, and the angled dashboard with 3-spoke steering wheel and shifter on the console.  The base is equally as impressive as the interior.  M2 Machines has been putting out some impressive stock vehicles in the Drivers line, including the GTO's, and let's hope they continue the trend and not go back into the pegwarming track versions with metallic paint and logo's spread across the vehicle.

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Johnny Lightning 1973 Pontiac GTO

When I first found this casting in 2004 it was rather odd that the GTO still continued after its heydays of the 1960's and early 1970's.  By 1973 with an oil crisis and rising insurance premiums the Muscle Cars were gone for good, yet some models still manage to continue on during the 1970's and most were just trim package on some rather lifeless model.  1973 was the last chance for the GTO with a new bodystyle that was not as sleek as past GTO's and also shared with the Pontiac Lemans and Pontiac Grand Am (a casting Johnny Lighting also made a year after this GTO).  The front-end was more body with 5-mph impact bumpers, a Colonnade roof that replaced the true hardtop look with a larger C-pillar to strengthen the roof in the event of a rollover collision yet still retain the pillarless look.  The 400 CID V8 motor had its compression reduced and a catalytic converter added to meet new emissions standards, producing 230 horsepower through a three-speed automatic transmission.  The GTO would live on in 1974 as a trim package for the Ventura, but after that it was gone for good until the 2004 revival.

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The first release was just a plain white with red interior and dog dish wheels.  Rather plain for a GTO.  This 2017 version adds a bit of spice to the casting.  Black looks just as sleek, but this orange paint looks even more impressive and with this color you can see the black vinyl roof more.  The front has the Endura bumper that widens to a V across the hood that has dual ducts.  The split grille remains and is now saddled with round headlights in square housings and a large front bumper with integrated signal lights and a cool GRRR!!! plate.  On the sides the GTO side badges are decked in black, a black stripe wraps around the upper beltline just below the roof, and 5-spoke mags with red center cap and Craiger rubber tires finally add some muscle to this car.  The rear-end looks a bit frumpy but has detailed taillights and rear bumper.  The roof also had ribbed vents on the C-pillar.  The metal base shows off the downside of emissions with the catalytic converter and automatic transmission visible.  The interior has seating for four with a dashboard that has all controls angled toward the driver.  Unlike past GTO's the interior is more basic and pedestrian than sporty.  Not one of the most popular GTO's, nor one of my favorite GTO's, but this 2017 update by Johnny Lightning brings some much-needed mojo to the casting.

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