The year was 2005. I was a high school student finishing Year 12. The day was done and I was heading to the bus stop for the long ride home. As I cross the road, I get caught in the pedestrian island in the middle of a busy main road in southeast Queensland. Watching car after car drive by, something abruptly catches my eye. I see it, although unaware of what the car was at the time. It was something I hadn’t seen before.
This thing had a presence on the road that quite frankly no other car shy of a Lamborghini or Ferrari could rival, with the sharp yet blended lines, and the wide fenders. As this machine got closer, I was like a deer in the headlights, the glimmering pearl white paint, i couldnt take my eyes off of it. It rolls past, the deep burble and rumble of the engine as it decelerates, pulling up to a red light, a label stamped on that wide rear end, “3000GT”.
I knew that day, that this was a car I would love to own when I got older. And so it became my dream car. Fast forward to 2019 and I am now driving my very own GTO, and loving every minute of it.
The GTO, even in 2019, holds its own in the looks department with wide fenders, sharp nose and features like 18″ wheels, power mirrors and quad tip exhaust system. If you dont like people ogling you as you drive around town minding your own business, then this car is not for you.
Sitting in the driver’s seat you will notice everything is within reach. The instrument panel and centre gauges face you, displaying the essentials like boost, water temp and oil pressure. The driver’s seat is electronically adjustable with bolster and lumbar adjustments, including memory function. Visibility is very good for everyday driving but if you have a hoop spoiler you will notice it couldnt be in a worse position, sitting almost central in your rear view mirror.
Powered by a transversely-mounted 3.0-litre V6 twin turbo, translating that to motion through a Getrag 6-speed manual transmission, Getrag transfer case (viscous type) and LSD rear differential – but good luck finding an LSD that still works like it’s supposed to. The torquey engine makes light work of that extra weight everybody keeps complaining about.
The 2nd generation GTO was given the factory forged crank and rods for the added power along with a tougher transfer case, due to previous shortcomings identified in the first generation.
Ride and Handling:
Since owning my GTO, I have changed out the stock active suspension that no longer worked and installed an adjustable coilover set, which made a huge difference to the handling and made me wonder why I didn’t do it sooner. The change brought out a sharper turn-in response and removed a lot of understeer.
Coupled with a good set of tyres, this car can hold its own along side its generational brethren. Braking… okay, I had taken my car out to a “happy laps” event, and long story short: my rotors were warped by the end of it (but Queensland Raceway is renown for putting your brakes through its paces).
Rotors were later changed to slotted and dimpled, and the fluid was flushed and replaced with some Penrite Racing 600 fluid. Since then, I am yet to experience any braking issues, so keep that in mind if you decide to give it a hard time even for one day.
This car is a Grand Tourer with all – well most – of the comforts that the 90s could fit in a car, making it a perfect driving car for the long hauls. I have comfortably driven 5000km on a road trip down and around the east coast, not to mention to and from work every day.
Getting in and out doesn’t come as graciously as you would hope, but with some practice its a little hurdle and next to no reason to not consider this a comfortable car.
I would say this car is above-average in cost of maintenance compared to a regular daily driver like Corolla or Commodore but on par with other performance vehicles. The cost of genuine parts is up and down with some items no longer available, such as clutch master cylinders, some headlights and leather gear knobs to name a few (although aftermarket options are available). Overall cost of purchase for this car is, compared to the GTR and Supra, a bargain with prices steadily increasing for those looking at a possible investment.
All in all, some bad points identified with consistent heavy braking on stock hardware, understeering on poor tyres and active suspension that no longer had sport mode, and… well thats pretty much it. This car has been flawless for me otherwise, and an absolute joy to drive. My GTO has 260,000 kms on the odo, and is still going strong with regular maintenance.
The only components I’ve had fail on me during ownership were the thermo fans, due to worn electric motors and starter motor. I would recommend avoiding front mount intercooler set ups like I have installed on mine as it greatly increases the chance of overheating by severely reducing airflow.
So in saying that, if you are after a rare Japanese legend of a car, don’t like rocking up to car meets with people who drive the exact same cars, then I would definitely suggest looking into taking the GTO/3000GT for a test drive to see if it is really the car for you.
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