Pontiac had much success on drag strips all across America, and little by little the performance aspect became a powerful marketing tool since a new generation of buyers wanted fast cars. They wanted to capitalize on its success, but the company was reluctant to invest in a sports car built from scratch. All their production models were big and heavy vehicles (via Car and Driver).
The result was the Tempest GTO, as it was called, an option on the Tempest intermediate model. For just $295, buyers would get a high-performance 396 V8 with 325 HP in standard or 348 HP in the famous Tri Power form. Manual transmission, unique trim, GTO decals, and dual exhaust were all parts of the package. Since it was light, the Tempest GTO had a convincing performance. In 1964 it was one of the quickest American cars on the market. Even Corvette owners weren’t safe from the Tempest GTOs lurking at stoplights across the country.