News about the GM ignition switch recall debacle is a stark contrast to a time when it was the unrivaled automotive leader that built cars people wanted – no, desired.
A reminder of those heady days recently occurred at the Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo, California in celebration of the 50th anniversary of a GM car that turned heads, tore up the streets and became an icon – the 1964 Pontiac GTO.
It came to market within months of another legendary model also celebrating its Golden Anniversary, the Ford Mustang. But while that “pony car” is still going strong, the GTO – or “goat,” as it was known to fans — has faded into memory, despite a failed attempt to revive the nameplate on one of the last products Pontiac produced before it, too, was tossed onto the automotive rust heap following GM’s 2009 bankruptcy.
But there was a time when the GTO tapped into the needs and desires of young people who were just reaching driving age, becoming an icon of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Ironically, it almost didn’t get made.