CONCORD, N.C. – Pontiac’s GTO, the car that gave birth to the American muscle car phenomenon, will be celebrated through a special 50th anniversary exhibit during Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Sept. 18-21 AutoFair.
The display, housed in the Nationwide Insurance Pavilion, will feature a dozen of the rarest, most desirable examples available, including the earliest known 1964 GTO, a ’66 Tri-Power model, a ’69 Judge Ram Air IV and a ’71 Judge convertible.
The earliest Baby Boomers were ready to buy new cars in the early 1960s, and they were willing to pay extra for speed and style. Pontiac electrified the youth market when it took a 389-cid V-8 from its big family car model, squeezed it into a mid-size Tempest, and sold it as a performance package. Pontiac “borrowed” the name GTO from Italian automaker Ferrari, whose own GTO race cars had dominated European road courses only a few years earlier.
The ’64 GTO came standard with a four-barrel carburetor and 325 hp; paying extra for a three-carburetor “Tri-Power” layout raised the bar to 348 horses, giving the car a power-to-weight ratio like nothing else on the road. Its immediate sales success (32,000 sold in the first year) caused Ronnie and the Daytonas to immortalize the new Pontiac in the song “Little GTO.”
AutoFair visitors can see one of these powerhouses from each year the GTO was made in its first decade of production, plus a model from one of the three years they went back into production in the mid-2000s. They will be in the 50th anniversary display in the Nationwide Insurance Pavilion at the speedway.
The AutoFair features more than 50 car club displays and more than 10,000 vendor spaces offering an array of automotive parts and memorabilia. More than 1,500 collectible vehicles of all makes and models will be available for sale in the car corral that rings the 1.5-mile superspeedway. In addition, up to 200 cars will be auctioned by Dealer Auctions Inc. Kids can enjoy face-painting, bounce houses, and other games and entertainment in the Play Zone.
Show hours are 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday.
Ticket prices are $10 per day for adults, and children 13 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. For more information, call 704-455-3205 or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.