Custom Cruise Friday
Owning a high-performing collectable car presents quite the dilemma. Collectors have to fight between their desire to drive a wonderful car and realizing that doing that is going to cost them money in the end by adding kilometers to the odometer. Phil Heindel has found a way to split the difference in a very practical way. Heindel added to his performance car collection by purchasing a 2004 Pontiac GTO in 2013, for this week’s Custom Cruise Friday feature. He likes to drive cars of this breed, but unlike his more classic options, the 2004 GTO isn’t going to cost him additional money with depreciation at the end of the day.
“I love (the 2004 GTO),’ Heindel said. “It’s a very comfortable car and they don’t cost a lot of money. Any time you can drive a car and not lose value, is a big win.”
From the Custom Cruise Friday archives
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The search begins
This generation of the highly respected Pontiac GTO has, what some would call, a colorful history inside Canadian borders. When General Motors started building the new GTO, they couldn’t be imported, marketed or sold in Canada due to governmental regulations. The restrictions would eventually be lifted before the first decade of the 21st century was over. But the result is that there are very few of this Pontiac GTO generation to be found in Edmonton, or any of the provinces for that matter.
“I was kind of actively looking (for a new GTO),” Heindel said. “I was intending to go down to the U.S. to buy one. Then I happened upon it on eBay on the south side of Edmonton.”
A tough find for a special car
Heindel’s 2004 Pontiac GTO is ready to be a top track performer, right out of the box. It has a 5.7-liter, LS1 V-8 engine providing 350 horsepower. It’s attached to a four-speed automatic transmission. There are number of interesting facts about the car which make it teeter being a fairly rare find. Import restrictions notwithstanding, only 44,000 were built between 2004 and 2006, solely for the United States. Additionally, the Barbados Blue Metallic paint scheme appeared on fewer than 600 production models.
“If you get on it, it breaks the tires loose in second gear,” Heindel said. “You have to be careful.”
But it’s not really a GTO
There are actually more General Motors brands to be found in other parts of the world beyond the four that are found at Don Wheaton. One of those international brands is Holden and is built and sold in Australia. The powers that be at GM wanted to bring the GTO nameplate back, they coopted the Holden Monaro, which is nearly identical in almost every way. But it’s still unfair to say Heindel’s car isn’t a real GTO. It has all of the hallmarks of the classic model, its fast with a strong V-8 engine and most importantly it’s fun to drive.
“It’s a car that deserves to be driven spirited,” Heindel said. “I don’t wail on it all of the time, maybe daily. It’s a fun car.”
What does the future hold?
As it stands right now, Heindel has no plans to add any upgraded performance parts to the car. Though the car is ripe for it, like it’s classic predecessors. In the time he’s owned it, the GTO has made appearances at a drag strip and has taken a crack at a road course. A 14.2-second quarter-mile run and some red hot brakes have shown Heindel he has the low-cost, high-performing summer daily driver he had been looking for.
“I’m trying to stay away from modifications,” Heindel said. “I’m pretty frugal and you never get your money back on upgrades.”
There is a lot of speculation out there as to whether the 2004 Pontiac GTO will end up being a sought-after collector car. Heindel stated his research has indicated that prices of the car have stabilized and could possibly trend back upward.
“I got almost everything I wanted,” Heindel said. “I wanted an automatic (transmission), a color I loved with low kilometers and in the same town.
“I don’t know if it will be a high-dollar car. But I think it’ll begin to appreciate.”
Do you have a special, classic or unusual vehicle that you would like to see profiled in a Custom Cruise Friday Blog? Send a couple of photos and pertinent information to Don Wheaton Brand Manager, Melina Kawecki by email to email@example.com.