Video: Marketing the 1965 Pontiac GTO

Pontiac launched the muscle car movement with the GTO in 1964, but it took some time for the marketing folks to pinpoint the target audience. See how the GTO was originally pitched in this 1965 commercial spot. 



With the 1964 GTO, Pontiac gave birth to the 1960s muscle car category as we know it today. The essential ingredients: an intermediate-class platform, a big, powerful V8 in the 400 cubic-inch range, distinctive badging, and special performance and appearance items. The package, created by Pontiac executive John DeLorean and engineers Bill Collins and Russell Gee, was an immediate smash hit, as sales reached more than 32,000 units that first year—and then more than doubled in 1965 with more than 75,000 cars sold, spawning an entire field of imitators.

But as this original 1965 commercial illustrates, it took some time for Pontiac to get its arms around the GTO’s target demographic. Initially, the marketing folks envisioned their customers as the young-at-heart married professionals depicted here. However, as they would soon learn, the GTO’s real buyers were more likely to be found at the drag strips and drive-ins, and strategies were shifted accordingly. Meanwhile, we have this intriguing artifact. Video below.


5 thoughts on “Video: Marketing the 1965 Pontiac GTO

    • And thanks to the internet, we now know what they said halfway through( if you made it that far),,,”this little modified Pon-Pon, has got plenty of style”.

      • legendary Pontiac ad man Jim Wangers arranged for the GTO song to be produced. He for one understood the GTO market.

  1. Oldsmobile missed the mark on their 65 442 commercials and magazine ads too. The car was pitched to middle aged sporting car enthusiasts. They also promoted a Golf a Rama sweepstakes, with the chance to win a 65 442. Middle aged golfers? Imagine how many more 65 442s and 65 GTOs GM would have sold if they went after the youth who really bought these cars.

  2. I bought a new ’65 GTO but I did not wear a porkpie hat. It’s still my all time favorite car, i have one now.

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