2006 Pontiac GTO
Was it a revival of a historic performance icon, or the first toehold for an influx of Australian-style muscle? Actually, the GTO was a bit of both, at least for a time. GM executive and true-blue car guy Bob Lutz sampled the Holden Monaro, the Australian GM product that the GTO is based on, and rightly concluded that Americans would appreciate another rear-wheel drive, V8-powered coupe—particularly since the F-body Camaro and Firebird twins had been dead for years, and the new Camaro wasn’t even a gleam in the eye of a GM designer yet. A poor exchange rate and arguably sedate styling meant that the original cars weren’t hot sellers despite their many advantages, so GM dug into its parts bin and pulled out a few choice bits. The styling of this 2006 GTO benefits from the more aggressive improvements, most notably the split-intake hoodscoop. More importantly, the old LS1 lump was tossed in favor of the 400 horsepower LS2, the same 6-liter powerplant found in the Corvette. Paired with the GTO’s fully independent suspension, you’ve got a fast goat that can handle too. Unfortunately, 2006 was the last year of the GTO after just three years of North American sales, making the fast and attractive GTO a somewhat rare and ultimately desirable Pontiac.