2004 Pontiac GTO, A Review
A classic car lover reviews a "new" car
I'm gonna start this out by saying that this is the newest car I have ever owned. I generally dislike anything made after 1959, as a result of that I've refuse to spend money on newer cars. "Life's too short to drive boring cars" or so the bumper sticker goes. Before this, I had never even owned a daily driver that was made in the 21st Century.
So why did I buy this?
Fair question. I decided to give new cars a chance, based off of what I've seen of them on TV and from people I know that own them. I decided to look for as new and as low mileage a Camaro or Mustang as I could find. I wanted a V6 with a manual transmission. I quickly found out that desirable Camaros and Mustangs are kinda rare in my area. Finding one in my sweet spot of less than a 100,000 miles and less than $10K was impossible. Camaros are held onto and Mustangs are driven, hard!
After about a month of Craigslist, FB marketplace and searching the on-line inventory of every new and used car dealer within 250 miles, I had just about given up. I decided to hop into my classic truck and try to find something the old fashioned way.
Up close and personal. Photo by: Chris Breeden
In an effort to keep from going the way of Oldsmobile, Pontiac was doing anything they could towards the end. They even went so far as to bring a Holden all the way to the US. Pontiac big thinkers, reasoned a rebadged Holden Monaro would make a car worthy of the GTO name.
Since we all know how that turned out, let me skip ahead to the review!
The GTO badge on the glove box, still has the protective film on it from the factory. Photo by: Chris Breeden
Despite being a heavily sought after, 14 year old performance car, this GTO has had zero modifications done to it. The exhaust, brakes, suspension, rims, interior, engine and transmission are all original.
Stock exhaust is still in place. Photo by: Chris Breeden
The body panel fitment is what you would expect from a GM car of this era. All panel gaps are straight and the panels are flush.
Fitment on panels are tight and uniformed. Photo by: Chris Breeden
Despite its 14 year age and 95,000 miles I can find no major scratches or dents. In truth, any scratches were probably covered up by the dealer. I supposed the dealer could have popped out any dents, but there is no obvious paint blemishes consistent with dent repair.
Some age is starting to show itself under the fuel door. Photo by: Chris Breeden
The only real unsightly thing on the car is under the fuel door.
5.7L, all aluminum, LS1 V8. Photo by: Chris Breeden
The engine does show some signs of age, but is really clean considering its age. Other than the tell tale marks on the under hood heat shield, of an unexperienced detailer using a pressure washer on the engine bay, all is in very good shape.
A very simple interior. One of the best produced by GM during this time. Photo by: Chris Breeden
Now I will admit that this isn't really a particularly great looking car. Nothing of any previous generation GTO can be found in it. That has a lot to do with why this car didn't sell much and was discontinued after the '06 model year. Ford on the other hand, had developed a great looking tribute to the Mustangs of old in 2004. It is no wonder that the Mustang massively out sold the GTO.
Gauge visibility is excellent as is windshield visibility. A oil pressure gauge would have been nice. Photo by: Chris Breeden
To appreciate this car, you can't look at it. You have to get in it and crank up that first generation LS engine and drive it. Those 350 horses will really kick you in the seat! The ride quality can be stiff, but it's never abusive or even annoying. This car is equipped with a 4 speed automatic and the shifts are quick and to the point.
Power adjustable seats, provide excellent back and side support. Not heated, but that was still luxury 14 years ago. Photo by: Chris Breeden
The second best thing about the 2004 GTO is the interior. The interior is put together well and materials used are of a good quality. No it's not a Audi or a BMW, but it is better than any other car GM was producing at the time. Other than the antiquated 6 disk CD radio, I feel like this could be the interior of any modern car.
These lawn chairs are taking up a third of the trunk space. Photo by: Chris Breeden
The only gripe I have about the cars design is the tiny trunk. It's difficult to tell in pictures, but the trunk space is really a joke!
"Hey, man is that a Chevy Cavalier?" This car is truly a sleeper.
The 3rd best thing about this car is no one pays any attention to you in it. I guess regular drivers in the US have already forgotten about Pontiac. That's why this is one of the best sleepers I have ever seen. People tend to not notice the car until you accelerate hard after getting a green light and the exhaust note cracks as it shifts into second. I've witnessed some truly confused people after red lights! Truthfully, the only people that seem to notice it are Mustang, Camaro and Challenger drivers. I'll admit I've attempted to lure a few into some redlight shenanigans, but they all seem a little apprehensive about going up against the little car.
Even with the 5.7L V8 engine, I am able to get 25 MPG as long as I keep my foot out of it. I've lived with this car for the last month now and I can safely say that one definitely makes an excellent daily driver. You'll just have to be mindful of how much you try and put in the trunk!
As a GTO this car was a miss. As a car, the '04 Pontiac GTO is a bullseye!
Well, that was fun... I guess we could turn it on, wind it up and blow it out? Or we could just, Keep on Cruisin'!
Art by: Chris Breeden
What do you think about this version of the GTO? Tell me in the COMMENTS!
Thanks for reading!