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The "New" GeeTO Tiger
Bringing The Past Into The Present
By Pete McCarthy
(from PE November/December 2001 issue)

In our last (September/October) issue we announced the reincarnation of the GeeTO Tiger. The "new" GeeTO Tiger is not your ordinary magazine project. The "new" GeeTO Tiger is a merchandising effort of Pontiac Enthusiast Magazine and Jim Butler Performance teaming together to incite the Pontiac community through the resurrection of a nostalgic vehicle built with todayís contemporary parts.

Pontiac Enthusiast Magazine and publisher Jim Wangers are dedicated to not only preserving, but actually growing the Pontiac hobby. PE feels itís not enough to simply report on certain products now available, although such reporting still remains a valuable service to our readers. In concert with our participating business partners, the "GeeTO Tiger" is a planned project to showcase exactly what these products can do with respect to building a modern hobby "Supercar." At this writing, the "GeeTO Tiger" is finally ready to unleash its full potential. It isnít easy to put together a project of this magnitude in less than a year, let alone six months, so itís going to take a little while longer to get everything completely "dialed in."

In the mid-60s Jim Wangers hatched the original GeeTO Tiger Show that predictably was a smashing success for Pontiac and the participating vendor partners. The show not only validated the performance potential of the GTO, it provided a platform for a young and emerging after-market industry.

Again, Jim Wangers is up to his old tricks. So whatís the deal with the "new" GeeTO Tiger? Is it simply nostalgia, vendor-tent "eye-candy," or is it really something else? While the new "Tiger" is obviously both of these things, it is intended to be considerably more. The nostalgic appeal of the "new" GeeTO Tiger is reviving an emotion that is certain to energize todayís Pontiac enthusiasts. The 1966 GTO is no longer manufactured, but today they can be built better thanks to an ever-growing after-market community. It was this connection between the product and its availability that made the original GeeTO Tiger Show such a successful marketing campaign, helping to sell thousands of GTOs. Well, as they said about Steve Austin, "today we have the technology to build it better."

A multitude of businesses now market contemporary products for the GTO as well as for numerous other Pontiacs built during that period, and even into modern times. Showcasing these products within the framework of a famous and legendary vehicle draws attention to the fact that modern technology can upgrade almost any hobby car to an overall performance level unheard of just a few years ago. Most active hobbyists are more than willing to benefit from modern improvements in power, braking, transmission and drive-line reliability, cooling, suspension, ignition, and in numerous other areas.

Its success as an event "showcar" has already been established. Appearances at the GTOAA Nationals and the POCI Convention, as well as additional exposures at Maple Grove, the Ames Pontiac Nationals at Norwalk, and the famous Woodward Avenue "Dream Cruise" have all been extremely well received. The "new" GeeTO Tiger is now poised to flex its muscles and demonstrate what its credentials are really all about. Even in its "dormant" state, prior to unleashing its performance potential, admirers and sharp observers have already seen enough to contact numerous companies involved in the project. Our GeeTO Tiger partners understand what this project represents and are already beginning to benefit, and these benefits are only the tip of the iceberg.

At the heart of our GeeTO Tiger is a contemporary drive train from Jim Butler Performance, TCI and Moser Engineering. Making certain that our tiger was the king of the lair, Year One, Inc. provided all of the restoration parts. And, ensuring that our tiger is as agile as itís name implies, Stainless Steel Brakes Corporation, Hotchkis Performance, and Eaton Detroit Springs provided the braking and suspension needed.

Although there are currently multiple aftermarket products showcased within the new "Tiger," special attention is directed to Jim Butler Performance and Year One, Inc. Jim Butler Performance (JBP) has developed perhaps the most significant product in the traditional Pontiac performance market with its big-inch "crate" motor. Faced with a dwindling supply of larger-displacement 428 and 455 Pontiac blocks, engine builders were increasingly forced to revert to risky and/or expensive practices in order to convert 400 blocks into bigger-inch dimensions. With the development of a new high-quality cast-iron 3" main "stroker" crank, JBP is now providing reliable 467-cid engines in a variety of power levels using the still ample supply of 400 blocks. In our judgement, JBP must be largely credited for the explosive rebirth of the traditional Pontiac engine as a serious modern power alternative. Perhaps the biggest advantage for the JBP "crate" motor customer is the fact that all the frustration connected with trying to find reliable shops to perform the numerous machining and assembly functions is now completely eliminated. The JBP engines are machined, assembled, engineered properly, and "ready-to-fire" as received. Needless to add, the "GeeTO Tiger" sports a new JBP "Tiger" crate engine.

Year One, Inc. recognized the significance of the "GeeTO Tiger" to the Pontiac hobby at once. Their involvement and support has been critical in our ability to rapidly transform a weather-beaten hulk into the spectacular-appearing recreation you see photographed within these pages. PE appreciates Year Oneís involvement, as well as the quality of their components and promptness of delivery.

Within the pages of future issues of PE we will be reporting on the application of our partners contemporary products so that you can build your very own version of a tiger, disguised as your current kitten. Based on the reaction we have received during this summerís shows, we know the contemporary improvements are much sought after.

Back in 1966, GM General Manager Jim Roche attempted to eliminate the entire Pontiac "Tiger" theme as "undignified." In retrospect, "dignity" had nothing to do with it. The "Tiger" theme is still the most recognizable icon in all of Pontiacís heritage. Let no reader doubt that the man most responsible for the "Tiger" theme was ad genius Jim Wangers. He knew what he was doing then, and he knows what he is doing now. The new "GeeTo Tiger" will highlight traditional Pontiac restoration and performance products like no other project car in recent memory. When it comes to marketing, the more things change, the more they remain the same.