In 2004 GM imported an Australian muscle car and sold it to the US as the Pontiac GTO. It absolutely was 40 years following the original GTO was first introduced to the world. It was true to the GTO formula, even though the GTO might not have been the retro-mobile like the upcoming Camaro or maybe the new Challenger. Take a small coupe, stuff the biggest engine in it and let the tires smoke!
The 2004 GTO was powered by the infamous LS1 and was putting out 365lb and 350hp-ft of torque. The 2004 received high marks for comfort and speed, but was much aligned for being a “Bland Am”. In 2006 and 2005 the GTO was updated with 50 more horsepower and 35lb-ft of torque. The newer GTOs also got a little more physical aspect improvements with a bit of hood scoops and split dual exhaust.
In the GTO community what really separates the 2004 vs the 2005/6 GTOs is simply the engine. Under the plain hood of your 2004 pumps the 350hp LS1 and beneath the hood scoops from the newer models is the 400hp LS2.
Both versions from the GTO enjoy a large aftermarket of go-fast goodies and tuning opportunities for the GTO driver who would like to go faster. Considering the same mods it tends to respond with a lot more horsepower. That’s an interesting tidbit about the LS1.
SLP makes a “421HP Bobcat” package for that 2004 GTO that gives the LS1 a 71hp boost for $3405. SLP makes an identical Performance Pac for the 2005/6 GTO referred to as the “455HP Bobcat” sold for $3868. That gives the 2005/6 GTOs merely a 55hp gain.
When you study those numbers you wil recognize that LS1 produces 16 more hp for 463 less dollars. Needless to say if an ‘04 GTO owner and an ‘06 GTO owner were to both purchase the same Performance Pacs the ‘06 GTO would still have 34 more horsepower.
All of these factors are making the 2005/6 GTOs a little more desirable in comparison to the 2004 GTOs. For the thinking muscle car fan, a great case can be done for the rarer slightly less powerful 2004 GTO. However, a slightly less powerful 2004 GTO is only a few mods away from being faster compared to a stock LS2 GTO.
Oh and you should possess some money leftover for mods because the 2004 GTOs are increasingly being sold under $15k.
So, is it the 2004 the “Lesser GTO”? Well it provides less horsepower, less appearance modifications, mods cost less and also the selling price is less. So yes the LS1 GTO is the lesser GTO, but sometimes less is more.