The 2004 Pontiac GTO: a 1500lb gorilla in boardshorts and Wayfarers

2014 Pontiac GTO
Text by Mat Lowenstein, photography by Kale Golden

[Ed. note – From my friend Mat Lowenstein comes a review of our friend Kale Golden’s 2004 Pontiac GTO. This was shared privately and has some rough language, but I got such a kick out of it that I asked to publish it here with their permissions.]

What follows is a list of similes to help describe what it’s like to go from a 125hp (when new) turbodiesel to a 350hp pushrod V8.

The world’s biggest rubberband has been wrapped around the Earth 6 times and is now attached to your ass.

A pack of terrordogs lives in the muffler and in-gear deceleration makes them insane.

Violence, violence everywhere, all the time, in your ears and beneath your cockles.

This is how Arnold Schwarzenegger strengthens his neck muscles.

Every time you press your right foot down, you’re 17 again, with a 90’ dick.

The living manifestation of a 1500lb gorilla…in boardshorts and Wayfarers…with an Old Milwaukee in his hand.

The GTO I drove is a stupid-happy, always surging, always willing thing, and is incredibly hard to drive at posted speeds. If ever there was a car that embodied the “fast car slow” mantra, this is it; this is the 18” galvanized spike that seals the coffin. While the LS1 is perfectly happy loafing along at 1200RPM and 60mph, I the driver, am so fucking not. Have you ever fantasized about zipping into that gap (not that gap) that exists between cars in that 2-lane stretch that leads to the grocery store? The one where people can’t make up their minds about, am I turning left, do I want straight?. This car choses for them. It supersedes them. You simply put down the barky foot and fuck those indecisive assholes, I’m going THAT WAY. When I was a kid young adult Two weeks ago, I wondered what it would be like to drive a supercar in daily life. To know if, given enough horsepower, could I use my power for good and just slink (politely) from gap to gap, leaving the indecision and loafers behind? And the answer is kinda. I can do that in this car. But I don’t want to do JUST that, in this car. I want to back off in 2nd, so I can roll on and hear THE NOISE. I want to say, “Well…fuck this corner in particular”, and gas it through the curve, hearing that faint bit of sffffft that the traction control affords, as I’m rocketed through and into the clear blue. But…somehow I know that while being 17 and enjoying my 90’ dick is cool, that’s just inviting trouble on a daily basis.

2014 Pontiac GTO

The inside of the car is pretty nice, considering it’s a GM product. I like the fabric-wrapped pillars, but I don’t expect they’ll hold up like plastics. Still, nice touch. The seats are the right width for our American asses, but my wife absolutely hated the stitching on the bolsters, which left marks on her arms. She turned to me and said, “2/10 would not buy”. It’s got a digital and analog speedometer, which seems kinda dumb, but I guess you’ve got your analog purists and your digital Ferrari cross-shoppers, so… The boot looks small, and from what I understand, it really is if you’re bootlegging like a certain cider-runner I know, but it was just about perfect for carrying a week’s worth of groceries. I guess, don’t go camping with it and you won’t be disappointed. I can’t comment on the sound system because in my test car, the speakers were either all faded or blown, likely by blaring Grand Funk Railroad for 10 straight years. At least my son’s booster fit well and he had plenty of legroom, because I prefer an upright driving position. No sunroof makes wife a sad panda.

2014 Pontiac GTO

On the road, the car shrinks in size and I found it really easy to put it where I wanted it. I’m sure she’s a porker, but given the horsepower, you can’t tell. The gearbox makes a whirring noise inside the cabin at idle and the Flowmaster out back is fairly ridiculous, but wind noise with the windows down is surprisingly good. It’s a great car for just hanging your elbow out the window and going. There’s this really incredible , snarl-pop- Wharrgarbl -snarl-pop thing that happens in-gear but off-throttle and it’s so, so, sooooooooo addictive. My favorite pastime by far has been to look around, give it the business, then just listen to the terrordogs fight for supremacy behind my left ear. Rinse, repeat, huehuehe…

2014 Pontiac GTO

All photos copyright Kale Golden 2014

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