1972 Pontiac: Memories of a Red GTO

VERN PARKER
Motor Matters

When Dawn and Terry Wortman began dating in 1976 she owned a red 1972 Pontiac GTO. Soon after they wed the GTO was history. Decades later, Wortman was at an annual antique car show when he spotted a red 1972 Pontiac GTO. He whipped out his cellphone and called his wife to say, “I’m looking at a red 1972 Pontiac GTO like the one you used to have.”

“Why haven’t you bought it?” was her response.

After a thorough inspection, Wortman found no big surprises and only a few little things that needed attention. The single four-barrel carburetor was rebuilt, an exhaust leak was corrected, and a faulty power seatback release was fixed.

Research indicates that the Sundance Orange Pontiac rolled out of the factory on Sept. 16, 1971, on a set of raised-white-letter BFGoodrich Radial T/A tires wrapped around 15-inch honeycomb wheels. Records show that the Pontiac was never sent to a dealer. Instead, it was delivered to the AC Spark Plug Division of General Motors in Flint, Mich. Wortman surmises that the well-optioned GTO was ordered by a company executive.

The window sticker price was $5,590.60, which included the following options: 455-cubic-inch, high-output V-8; air conditioning; GTO option; custom trim; AM/FM radio with rear speaker; power windows and power locks; rear defogger; cruise control; front console; softray glass; wheel-well molding; dome/map light; front and rear floormats; and door-edge guards.

The powerful Pontiac is also equipped with a Turbo 400 automatic transmission, a Positraction 12-bolt rear end, power disc brakes, power steering, tilt steering column, Formula three-spoke steering wheel, power trunk release, power seatback release, and a handling package that includes a 1.25-inch rear sway bar.

Wortman says pictures of his car before the restoration show “It was in bad shape.” During restoration, the decision was made to paint the car cardinal red. The dashboard and carpeting are black with white seats, door panels, and headliner.

Wortman reminds us that in 1972 the special-order GTO package had to be added onto a Pontiac LeMans. He says 5,600 GTOs were built in the 1972 model year and, of them, only 325 were equipped with a 455-cubic-inch V-8 engine.

At the other end of the car, the dual exhausts exit to the side behind the rear wheels through “splitters,” which makes each exhaust pipe appear as if it were two.

“It drives straight,” he says, “even with a heavy-duty suspension.” The twin air scoops on the engine hood are functional, Wortman says. They help the engine breathe so it can deliver 300 horsepower. The Ram Air vents on the sides of the front fenders are also functional to allow engine heat to escape. Wortman usually drives the now-pristine Pontiac to cruise nights or car shows.

The window sticker price on this 1972 Pontiac was $5,590.60, which included the following options: 455-cubic-inch, high-output V-8; air conditioning; GTO option; custom trim; AM/FM radio with rear speaker; power windows and power locks; rear defogger; cruise control; front console; softray glass; wheel-well molding; dome/map light; front and rear floormats; and door-edge guards.