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Old 9th October 2013, 20:21   #1
Black 6050
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Default Why the GTO and not a MOPAR?

I found this story to be really interesting, and it just proves that promotion is almost as important as actual performance..... Everyone just takes it for granted that the GTO was the first Mid-sized car with a big engine. Well Mopar was actually first, read on for the full story. Sit back and enjoy a little bit of Mopar history.

1963 Plymouth and Dodge Muscle Cars: They scooped the GTO by a year - Why didn't anyone care?

Let's Face it, John DeLorean was a marketing genius when it came to Pontiac Muscle, but in 1963, most of the emphasis over at GM was on the full-size big HP cars, like the 409 Chevy and Pontiac's 421-engined Catalinas.

But a funny thing was happening at the drag strip, starting in 1962, but really carrying over to 1963, when GM had no answer, a bunch of mid-sized Dodges and Plymouths showed up with at first 413, then 426-inch, dual quad wedge motors. They out muscled the big boys from haughty Ford and GM, so much so that GM walked away from drag racing in 1964.

We all know about those killer Mopars at the strip, but what flew under the radar was that Furys and Polaras could be had in mid-size form with big inches under the hood - a full year before the famous GTO and with performance that easily matched the famous Pontiac.

Well, how come those cars never scooped history like the GTO did in 1964?
Some of it was marketing, some of it was timing and some of it was that Mopar's success on the drag strip overshadowed their capabilities on the street. Another part was that GM's foray into the mid-size market was big news in 1964, and the GTO was able to feed off of that big time.

And there were just more GM fans than Mopar fans. Sales of all the GM A-bodies in 1964 were almost TEN times Dodge and Plymouth combined. Last, the styling of the Pontiac Tempest resonated with the public more than the Dodge and Plymouth did.

But mostly it was Delorean and Wangers, who had the "youth market" figured out. They made sure the car was perceived asfun and fast - (one way was to fit 421 engines in their two demo cars and "forgetting" to tell anyone about that oversight).

But rest assured, a 383-engined Mopar could easily stay with a 4-bbl GTO and a 426 "S" (for street) would kill it. But despite all that, Chrysler's failure to target the car in their advertising at the "youth" market (ads with guys driving a Fury with a Fedora and a woman that looked like your mom did not resonate with kid's idea of a fast car).

Had they done so, things might be a lot different nowadays - we might be hearing the Beach Boys sing "Little Sport Fury".

(As a side note for those of you that are Beach Boy their song "Shut Down", a song about a race between a Vette and a 413....An auto magazine actually staged a race with the two models several years ago and guess what.....the 413 win! I guess the Beach Boys were GM fans.....)
Joe G.
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