Pontiac advertising executive Jim Wangers’ specialty was creating winning combinations. When he partnered with Royal Pontiac, George Hurst and Petersen Publishing in 1965 to further boost sales of performance parts and the hot-selling GTO, the result was a nationwide contest based on a song recorded by a band called “The Tigers” on the Colpix label. And that song was “GeeTO Tiger.”
The contest Grand Prize was a specially prepared 1965 Pontiac GTO. Equipped with more than 28 factory options and special gold Hurst mag wheels, a special Hurst Gold paint job and a gold-plated Hurst Shifter, it was the ultimate GTO and the ultimate promotional vehicle. Wangers described it as “a total street machine, the nicest GTO you could put your hands on.”
The subject of a hit record and a wildly successful nationwide marketing campaign, the “GeeTO Tiger” is perhaps the most significant GTO of all time. Certainly no other car is so closely tied to the model’s history. It’s an original Royal Bobcat car, hand assembled by Pontiac Engineering and Hurst Performance Products, and it was a hit at the 1965 NHRA Indy Nationals with its young new owner.
Both Hurst and Pontiac advertised and promoted the car in automotive magazines for months in 1965 with full-page ads and wide editorial coverage. Pontiac offered the record in many of its ads, and, in total, more than 450,000 “GeeTO Tiger” albums were distributed. The winner was a last-minute entrant: 19-year-old Alex Lampone of West Allis, Wisconsin, who received the keys from George Hurst at the 1965 NHRA Indy Nationals.
Lampone treasured the car and drove it sparingly for a few years before selling it to Pete Yeko, who won regularly with it at Great Lakes Dragaway in Union Grove, Wisconsin. GTO collector Jim Urban bought the car and rebuilt the engine before selling it to Jerry Trevelan of Appleton, Wisconsin, in 1975. The GeeTO’s true identity was obscured until a chance encounter with Jim Wangers, who told a surprised Trevelan of its historic status. Trevelan had the car repainted in 1982; otherwise, it’s highly original and has traveled just 59,000 miles.
After nearly 30 years in his care, Trevelan sold the Hurst “GeeTO Tiger” to noted collector and author Colin Comer in 2004. In 2005, the “GeeTO Tiger” was reunited with the 1965 Hurst/Motor Trend Magazine Riverside 500 GTO Pace Car when the latter was also acquired by Comer after a long search to join what he believes to be the ultimate pair of 1965 GTOs. Years later, the cars were rightfully sold as a pair to collector Bob Marvin of Minnesota. Both cars remained in Marvin’s collection for approximately 10 years before Dana Mecum reacquired them to complete a collection of his all-time favorite GTOs.
The car is discussed in Jim Wangers’ popular book “Glory Days,” “The Big Little GTO Book,” “Classic Sixties,” Musclecar Enthusiast and Car Collector magazines, and Dennis Kirban’s “Hurst Wheel and Memorabilia” book. It was also the subject of a chapter dedicated to it in Comer’s 2007 book entitled “Million-Dollar Muscle Cars.” In 2005 the “GeeTO Tiger” was the official 40th Anniversary GTO Nationals car, and it was reproduced in a limited edition model by Performance Years Enterprises. The car was the subject of a feature road test episode on Spike TV’s “Musclecar” show, as well as part of an exclusive interview with the “Godfather of the GTO” Jim Wangers and the late, great GTO historian/author Paul Zazarine moderated by Comer at the GTO Nationals in 2005.
Simply put, the “GeeTO Tiger” is one of the best known and most historically significant GTOs of all time.
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