GTO: A Source Book/GTO Volume II: A Source Book

GTO: A Source Book/GTO Volume II: A Source Book by Thomas E. Bonsall (editor)
Published 1980/1984 by Bookman Dan, Inc.
142 pp/144 pp, paperback

ISBN: 0-934780-03-X (Volume I)
ISBN: 0-934780-50-1 (Volume II)

Acquired from a Pontiac enthusiast on Facebook

I acquired GTO: A Source Book and GTO Volume II: A Source Book from a posting on a Facebook group. Though I’ve never owned a GTO, I am a big fan of both muscle cars and Pontiacs. As I also enjoy just reading about cars, grabbing a couple of source books seemed a no-brainer. I was unfamiliar with the ‘Source Book’, but it seems there are a whole series on different cars, published in the 1980s.

I was curious what ‘source book’ meant. I discovered these books are collections of sales literature and advertising concerning the Pontiac GTO.

The first book deals exclusively with the GTO, from 1964 through 1974, and contains sales literature. Each year is its own chapter, with a description of both the car and the literature the author found to be available. Material is scarce for the 1964 and 1965, which makes sense as the GTO was an option on the Tempest Lemans model. For example the 1965 GTO information was found in the full-line Pontiac brochure (2 pages), the Pontiac performance car catalog (3 pages) and a GTO folder that apparently would hold a 45 record (GeeTO Tiger by the Tigers).

By 1966, the GTO was made its own series, and as such full brochures featuring the car became available. Typical car brochures, they contain all the information on engine, transmission and rear axle options, as well as other options and colour availability. The number of pages and materials increase with each year, especially as The Judge option is added in 1969. And the volume of material tapers off again as for 1972-74 GTO was again reduced to being a LeMans (and then Ventura) option.

Top: Volume I shows 1966 brochure pages. Bottom: Volume II shows 1966 Hurst and Pontiac ads.

The final 60 pages of volume one are reprints of the Pontiac accessory catalogues for each year.

Volume II differs in a couple of ways. For one, it’s the advertising for the GTO that is featured. Interestingly, it’s not just official Pontiac advertising shown – there are a number of ads for Hurst Performance, Iskenderian Cams, even a Ford Fairlane GTA ad that directly references GTO.

Secondly, the Grand Am has been added. The Grand Am debuted in 1973, “another big-engined intermediate in the GTO tradition… a whole lot more luxurious… sort of an upscale Goat” as Bonsall put it. It was available from 1973 through 1975, again from 1978 through 1980, and finally returned as a front-drive car in 1985. Information included for the first 2 runs of cars include ads (often combined with the LeMans line) and sales brochures.

Top: Volume I shows 1968 GTO brochure. Bottom: Volume II shows 1968 GTO ad.

In many ways these books remind me of the Illustrated Camaro Buyer’s Guide (reviewed here). There are no colour pages to be found, and they came about in the early days before the 60s musclecar collector boom happened. In the case of these books, everything appears to have been photocopied, and as such many of the images are hard to read, or extremely high contrast. While we may not regard it as high-quality now, this is consistent with book publishing of the time. The expense of high-definition drum scanning and colour lithographic print would be prohibitive for relatively low-volume books.

Top: Volume I 1971 GTO brochure pages. Bottom: Volume II 1971 GTO ad and 1972 chapter description.

I’d say GTO: A Source Book and GTO Volume II: A Source Book are nice additions to an enthusiast’s collection, though very dated. Much is lost by the fact the brochures and ads are not high-quality, full-colour reprints. It does make the information somewhat difficult to read, and of course that 1960s adverts are always great to look at in colour. Still, to have this information gathered in one place is very nice for someone into learning more about the GTO and Grand Am.

Top: Volume I shows the 1967 Pontiac accessories catalog. Volume II: 1973 Grand Am ad.

Often, owners of cars such as the GTO prize having this kind of material. Today, original sales material can sometimes be found on eBay (in fact I have a few brochures for my Grand Prix). But when these source books were published I am sure they provided a wealth of information that wouldn’t have been easy to find elsewhere.They are a great little resource to have.

Pros: it’s great having copies of ten years of sales brochures and advertising gathered in one place; does provide a year-by-year history of the GTO and Grand Am
Cons: not the best quality; no colour images; can be difficult to read some of the copy
Where to find them: used book stores, the internet, enthusiast collections

4 thoughts on “GTO: A Source Book/GTO Volume II: A Source Book

  1. rulesoflogic

    Thomas Bonsall is one of America’s most renowned automotive historians. His book about Studebaker, More Than They Promised, is one of my ten favorite books.

    Of course, I have affinity for this post as my first car was a ’67 GTO. Just a couple of days ago I searched for ’67 GTO restomods for sale. (I am not buying one; I was just curious.) I found three with an automatic transmission and one in particular looked like it was well done. IF I ever stumbled into a financial windfall, maybe I would buy such a car.

    Thanks for this post, sir.

    Liked by 1 person

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