Despite initial buzz on the car show circuit and from sneak peeks and GM/Pontiac’s well words, the 2004 Pontiac GTO didn’t receive the welcoming or provide the hot sales originally anticipated. In the decade to follow however, the Aussie-built, Monaro-based Goat has enjoyed a cult of personality and rarity, along with being recognized as a potent performance platform for late-model car enthusiasts in the know.
Most of the hoopla revolves around the LS2-powered ‘05/’06 models, with their more endowed hoods, dual exhausts and beefier brakes, but for those who are looking to spend a bit less and want to attain the first examples to climb from the kangaroos pouch, the ’04 versions are drawing increased attention.
Little known or discussed, a special limited edition 2004 Pontiac GTO exists, one that was meant to celebrate and commemorate the first muscle car’s introduction to the world back in 1964. Proposed as the 40th Anniversary Edition GTO or (W40), info on this secret edition Goat is as obscure as the contents of Hillary’s e-mails, but here’s what we know for sure.
According to multiple sources, at the tail end of model year 2004 GTO production, the Holden assembly plant in Elizabeth, Australia built the last 800 GTO’s as 40th Anniversary (W40) editions. All featured an exclusive (79U) Pulse Red exterior paint color (first presented on the 2003 show cars), silver-gray faced gauges and red “GTO” embroidery on black-anthracite seats-794 examples with 512 in manual guise and 282 automatics were recorded as delivered. No advertising or marketing of the special cars was provided by Pontiac and in many cases, dealers were initially unaware of any significance, other than an additional color. To this day, save for having original window stickers that denote The “Pulse Red Package” for an additional $295, or looking under the seat covers or trunk carpeting for factory paperwork/stickers marked with 40th Anniversary coupe- many ’04 W40 owners are in the dark as to what they have, so we at LSX Magazine thought to ask the father of the modern GTO himself, Bob Lutz, if he could shed any more light on the subject.
LSX Magazine: Thank you in advance for your time Mr. Lutz, I was hopping you could enlighten us a bit, on the subject of the ’04 W40 GTO?
Bob Lutz: “I’m sorry but I don’t know much about it, other than, they [Pontiac] probably didn’t advertise or market the thing, because there was already an inventory problem with the regular ‘04s so dealers didn’t want them, because they couldn’t move what they had.”
LSX: Is it safe to say, that the W40 was proposed before ’04 production began and so the 800 cars were built regardless?
BL: “Yes, that’s probably the case, but the car was always unpopular, even within GM, The North American division wanted to do it themselves and didn’t accept Holden/GM Asia/Pacific’s efforts. Why advertise and market a special edition of an already unpopular car?”
LSX: Mr. Lutz, you have to be pleased, that now, a decade later, the new age GTO is definitely getting it’s due and enjoying the popularity it should have when new.
BL: “Yes, originally the car was great, but was doomed by terrible mistakes made in marketing and distribution and many people, including the press, just didn’t get it, expecting a retro design that looked like a GTO from the ‘60s rather than a modern interpretation.”
Well, as you can read, “Maximum Bob” was able to delve into the reasons for the W40’s clandestine existence, but rumors of proposed 18-inch wheels, commemorative badging and performance upgrades, remain just hearsay.
With as much as possible confirmed, the 2004 W40 40th Anniversary GTO does exist and is with it’s 350-hp/365-lb-ft 5.7 LS1, gorgeous and unique Pulse Red paint, special gauges and embroidery and 1-of-794-made rarity, it stands as the first iteration of the modern GTO, the last of the ‘04s, a 40th anniversary edition and one of the final Pontiac machines to wear the iconic GTO moniker. I’d say the secret is definitely out.