When we first strapped ourselves into one of these cars, our respect for The General grew to epic proportions. The 2004-2006 GTO proved to us, and the world, that Pontiac was still building excitement and was able to produce a world-beating coupe costing half as much as equally capable cars. We were lucky to have enjoyed their presence for those three short years, but now, a couple flips of the calendar later, many GM fans and LS nutjobs like ourselves better understand what it takes to make these great cars even greater. And with the used values more in line with what we're willing to spend on a weekend toy, picking up a GTO and turning it into exactly what you want is now financially attainable.
The LS engine market has matured well and the GTO has proven to be an incredible platform to showcase our favorite engine's attributes-torque and horsepower. But if there's one area that many GTO enthusiasts are not too keen on, it's the suspension that makes the pleasantry happen. Sure, we'll throw some drag bags in back and chuck the front swaybar to squeeze out a lower e.t., but the GTO's suspension design is unique in that it has the ability to work on the dragstrip and in the turns with equal alacrity-and little sacrifice to ride quality. So, when it was time to upgrade the suspension on our own Head Poncho, we knew that anything we did wouldn't take away from our 12.20 e.t.'s and 1.65 short times (because of course, we are still drag racers deep down inside and our priorities still lay on the 1320).
Unlike the F-bodies that roam our highways and byways, the GTO has not had the benefit of a large suspension aftermarket. Only a few U.S.-based companies chose to invest their resources into the GTO (because of the relatively low production numbers) so parts to bring a GTO to the next level can be tough to find. In addition, those of us who wanted to remedy our rather excessive tire wear issues and somewhat unpredictable handling at the limit were, as they say, SOL (more on that in a minute). While we sit here with envy, those Australians have been enjoying a huge aftermarket for the home-market, third-generation Commodore, which the GTO is based on.
Sold in Australia from 1997 until 2006, the Commodore is as popular as a Camaro is here, and can be found roaming the roads in great numbers, often heavily modified. A little Internet research revealed a massive aftermarket and that a company called Pedders was the leader in suspensions over there. As it turns out, Pedders still produces a full line of high-performance suspension components for these cars. We quickly made contact with their U.S. operations, Pedders USA, and ordered ourselves one of its Track II suspension kits. This kit transforms the GTO greatly and includes a hand-selected combination of their best suspension parts for serious street duty (for those looking to hit the roadcourse, Pedders also offers a line of race-ready components called the eXtreme series). We then upped the ante with a set of eXtreme series front and rear sway bars for a little more aggressive handling.