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First Movie Headliner: 2005 Pontiac GTO
Reading between the lines of marketing hype

By Matt Stone
Photography by the manufacturer
Motor Trend,

What's Hollywood cult icon Dennis Hopper doing in front of a customized GTO? It's a convoluted story, but from it we gain insight into possible next steps for Pontiac's born-again muscle coupe.

The car has created a unique marketing dilemma, in that it needs to attract not only the middle-aged GTO Faithful who've kept the Goat's flame burning since the original went away after the 1974 model year, but also young performance enthusiasts who currently shop at Honda, Subaru, and Mitsu stores. These audiences have dissimilar tastes. To that end, Pontiac and USA Networks conjured a made-for-TV movie that attempts to connect with both. Entitled "The Last Ride," this flickette ends up being little more than a two-hour-long infomercial, although it's never billed as such. One USA exec called it a "holistic, organic marketing experience."

There are three reasons to watch "Last." The first is the incomparable Hopper. The second is female lead Nadine Velazquez, who's not only the hottest-looking mechanic you'll ever see, but also can act. And the third is several credibly done stunt-driving scenes featuring a vintage Pontiac GTO Judge and a current GTO, the latter in both stock and new-age Judge-ified forms, shown above. Nearly every other vehicle seen in this blatant product-placement exercise is a GM model of some sort--why else would a police detective be driving a maroon Grand Prix?

Looking past all that, it's the tunerized GTO built for the show that holds potential clues about future production variants. The Faithful have been calling for more cues from the originals, such as hood scoops and "dual dual" exhaust tips exiting out each side of the rear of the car (the 2004 has a legit dual-exhaust system, but both single pipes exit out of the driver's side of the lower rear fascia). The TV toy had a revised rear fascia with the requisite symmetrical exhaust outlets, so we expect this feature to be a done deal. We're told the twin scoop hood on the "Last Ride" machine closely resembles the look that'll show up next year, perhaps incorporating a cold air intake system.

Don't look for these aftermarket wheels on a production model, but we do expect future GTOs to have 18-inch rolling stock. We keep hearing rumors of 400 horsepower for the 2005 model. Pontiac has two ways to get there: the current 405-horse Corvette Z06 motor or the new Gen IV 6.0-liter that'll be served in the C6 Corvette. Our bet is the latter, since it's GM's only V-8 in this output range currently certified for automatic and six-speed manual transmission applications.

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i saw that on USA when it first aired, if you againt the ricing out of cars, don't watch it, cuz that's what they do. well that and the what seems like 200 shot of nitrous, that never gets used in the trunk. that car looked like **** in that movie
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