1972 Pontiac GTO Wagon
My brother contributor Big Chris went to his local county fair and came upon what appears to be one of the rarest muscle cars in the civilized world: a 1972 Pontiac GTO station wagon.
Station wagons, like the minivans and crossovers that have largely replaced them, are the philosophical opposite of the muscle car. They are practical transportation appliances for middle America, built to haul soccer teams and Cub dens, bags of groceries and sheets of plywood, and perhaps tow a boat or an Airstream. They are so steeped in practicality that it would be patent absurdity to think of a station wagon as a high performance terror of the dragstrip.
There have been thousands of wagons converted to muscle cars or dragsters with engine swaps and aftermarket go-fasters, but only a very, very few came weaponized straight from the factory. The Studebaker Lark Wagonaire could be ordered with a supercharged Avanti drivetrain in 1962 and '63--but that was the only time, so far as I know, that a manufacturer openly and officially offered a "muscle wagon" for public sale during the muscle car era.
Otherwise, no such thing as a factory muscle wagon. Or was there?
According to the Pontiac catalogs and order books, the answer was a firm "no." In 1964 and '65, when the Pontiac GTO--the paragon of all muscle cars--was an option package for the Tempest, it was available on the two-door coupe, hardtop sedan, or convertible, but not on the Tempest wagon. In 1966, the GTO was spun off as a separate model line, offered as (you guessed it!) a two-door coupe, hardtop, or convertible--again, no wagon in the lineup. In 1972 and 1973, the "Goat" reverted to being an option package for the Le Mans coupe--coupe only, according to the order book, no ragtop, hardtop, or wagon.
That said, you may on occasion see a 1964-73 Pontiac GTO station wagon at your local car show or cruise-in. In almost every instance, such as the car in the photo above, this will be a Tempest or Le Mans wagon body that someone has tricked out with GTO badging and trim, a GTO hood and front clip, and a GTO-like drivetrain. The GTO, Tempest, and Le Mans are all variants of the same basic car, built on a common platform with common components, so this particular "kitbash" isn't all that hard to do as such things go.
Like I said, in almost every instance, a "Goat wagon" will be home-built. The exceptions are three cars built in 1972, when some Pontiac line workers put GTO parts on Le Mans wagons in total disregard of what GM's order book said you could do. One source asserts that these were GTOs in appearance only, with plain-Jane wagon mechanicals, but others claim that the cars were true "Goats" equipped with the full option package.
I was unable to find out for sure if the factory-kitbashed wagons were a prank, or a mistake in the production order, or a special order. I'm tending toward the latter theory, because there was also one GTO convertible produced the same year, another "anomalous" GTO that did not appear in the catalog. One such oddball might be a mistake or a gag, but four sounds deliberate. It's easy to imagine the scenario: some dealer wants a non-catalog car for one of his favorite customers and knows somebody in the regional sales office who owes him a favor, and makes a phone call and, hey, while you're at it, make it three wagons and a ragtop.
Big Chris was not able to discover whether this particular wagon is one of the three built at the factory, or a "tribute" created later. I'd like to think that it is one of the factory-weaponized trio, and that a suburban mom drove it to the grocery store and Little League practice in the early '70s, and had herself some fun on the way there when the cops weren't around.
--Cookie the Dog's Owner
The beautiful '66 wagon belongs to Rocky Boyle, a member of the Tarheel Tigers Pontiac Car Club; the photo is from the club's website. The '72 wagon was photographed by our own Big Chris.