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Lots of cars have the letters “GT” proudly displayed on them, and in sports car racing many cars (and classes) are called GT – but why?
GT is short for Grand Touring – the Italians will likely, and perhaps correctly, take credit for inventing the term (explanation shortly). A GT car is larger and more comfortable than a Sports Car. A sports car would be an Austin Healy Sprite, or Porsche Speedster – A traditional GT car would be like a Ferrari 275 GTB, or any Austin Martin you know about.
The purpose of a GT car is to cover long distances comfortably – very quickly, if necessary. And, you can take a bunch of stuff with you. My view is that a GT car is better than a sports car in almost every way – you can use them to get to work, the supermarket, take the kids to baseball practice, or enjoy driving them around on a race track. They’re fun, most have big motors, and they look cooler than Sports Sedans, which the Brits call Saloon Cars, for some reason – a reason that makes them cooler than they would be, otherwise.
My case for suspecting Italians want credit for the term GT, is that they never seem to run out of letters to put after it – like they’ve got something to prove, and that’s suspicious, to me… For example GTS (Spider), GTB (Berlinetta), GTV (Veloce), GTi (Injected) and best of all, GTO (Omologato). Yes, the Italians get credit for GTO.
The “O” in GTO means homologated, or approved, in English. In auto racing, sanctioning bodies place requirements upon manufacturers in order for their cars to be eligible to complete. In this case the Ferrari 250 GTO was a “homologation” car, of which a certain number needed to be built, so that it could compete as a mass produced vehicle, in international sports car racing. Ferrari’s GTO was such a bad-ass that some dudes in Detroit thought if they named a Pontiac Tempest after it, that masses of motorheads (mostly the car-guy kind) would fall for the trick – and they were right…
So, as cool as a good ole American Pontiac GTO is.., GM stole the name from the Italians – in a way almost completely unlike the way the Italians got their hands on Chrysler…
This seems like a good time to start on the story of how Ford nearly grabbed Ferrari.