MotorTrend has been reviewing all aspects of cars since 1949—driving dynamics, design, safety, and interior elements. As technology becomes even more mainstream, a car’s interior has also become more refined. So in honor of our 70th anniversary, we decided to look back at our 1968 Car of the Year, the Pontiac GTO, to see how its interior holds up some 50 years later.
I got a chance to drive the 1968 GTO during our Ultimate Car of the Year event, and from the moment I stepped inside, I was in love. Its tan green leather is very ’60s, but the seats were quite comfortable. The front seats don’t slide forward, so it’s hard to get a good driving position, and getting to the back seat is a tough task, as you can only tilt the seat forward.
Once you’re settled inside, you’ll notice the key looks exactly like a house key, except it has the GM logo. The side mirrors have to be manually adjusted, and when you’re doing that, you’ll probably notice all the squishy leather that covers the entire door panel. The trims and the texture of the leather in the door panels make this interior look polished. Those who were driving this GTO in the ’60s were getting a nice treat.
Turn on the engine, and you’ll hear a big roar as the engine starts. When you put the transmission in drive and let go off the brakes, the car will move slowly, and when you step on the gas pedal, the GTO shows its muscle. The steering wheel can feel a bit odd in today’s world, as it’s wide and thin, and it requires many turns to simply get around the corner.
Once you get the hang of it, this is a precious car to drive or ride in. It’s a real reminder of the years when American cars were booming. The GTO was a real muscle car, but if we compare the interiors of today’s Mustangs and Camaros, they fall short on the luxury and refinement that cars from the 1960s had.
The fine wood on the dash and matching carpet tell us many things that interior designers were thinking back then. But the attention to detail is what really stands out. The GTO was clean and modern for the ’60s, and those who owned one were probably happy to drive it and to enjoy it.
Read more about our Ultimate Car of the Year finalists and winner:
- 1996 Dodge Caravan HERE
- 2004 Toyota Prius HERE
- 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air HERE
- 1949 Cadillac Series 62 Sedanette HERE
- 1972 Citroen SM HERE
- 1968 Pontiac GTO HERE
- 1986 Mazda RX-7 HERE
- 2013 Tesla Model S HERE
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