Cars & Bids Bargain of the Week: 2004 Pontiac GTO Manual

Although the Aztek wasn’t Pontiac’s death kneel per se, it arguably symbolized how far the iconic brand had moved from its performance glory days. But even as Pontiac winded down to its end, a few bright sparks shone through. The Solstice, for example, was GM’s take on the Mazda Miata’s successful formula. And this week on Cars & Bids, you can pick up another of the brand’s last hurrahs at an affordable price: a 2004 Pontiac GTO.

It didn’t have classic styling, but the 2004 Pontiac GTO channeled its forebears’ performance and then some

A blue 2004 Pontiac GTO next to a suspension bridge
2004 Pontiac GTO | GM
2004-2006 Pontiac GTO
Engine2004: 5.7-liter ‘LS1’ V8
2005-2006: 6.0-liter ‘LS2’ V8
Horsepower2004: 350 hp
2005-2006: 400 hp
Torque2004: 365 lb-ft
2005-2006: 400 lb-ft
TransmissionFour-speed automatic
Six-speed manual
Curb weight3777 lbs (2006, The Drive)
0-60 mph time2004: 5.5 seconds (Hagerty)
2006: 4.8 seconds (The Drive)

On the outside, the 2004-2006 Pontiac GTO doesn’t look like the ‘60s or ‘70s models. And unlike the original GTO, the 2004 model wasn’t built in the US. It, like the later Chevrolet SS, was basically a mildly-tweaked and re-badged Holden Monaro from Australia.

However, while the 2004 Pontiac GTO doesn’t scream ‘performance’ with its looks, that’s exactly why it’s an excellent sleeper car. And it definitely roars once its rubber meets the road. With more net horsepower under its hood than any classic GTO, the 2004 model could outrun its ancestors. And the 2005 GTO was even faster.

Also, the 2004 Pontiac GTO did something the original ‘Goat’ struggled to do—go around corners. Unlike the contemporary Mustang, the 2004 GTO had independent front and rear suspension. The fully-independent suspension combined with its rigid chassis gave the GTO handling on-par with more expensive BMWs and Mercedes, Hagerty notes. A standard limited-slip differential undoubtedly helped, too.

However, the IRS doesn’t just help with handling. It also gives the 2004 Pontiac GTO a comfortable ride that’s still impressive today, The Drive says. And while its interior isn’t flashy, it’s well-organized and solid with well-bolstered seats. This is a muscle car that you can cruise all day around town and hit triple digits on the highway.

Then, when you’re in the mood for some fun, you can wield “the hammer of Thor in vehicular form,” The Drive notes. The LS1 isn’t as powerful as the LS2, but it’s still an incredible engine. It’s responsive, strong, and bellows and burbles like the V8s of yore. And the optional six-speed manual still feels tight and fun to shift today.   

There’s a manual 2004 Pontiac GTO up for grabs on Cars & Bids

A modified yellow-and-black 2004 Pontiac GTO on a street
Modified 2004 Pontiac GTO | Cars & Bids

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While the manual is the enthusiast’s choice, it was optional on the modern Pontiac GTO. But it’s an option that the 2004 GTO currently listed on Cars & Bids has. And it has more to offer than just that.

Besides the manual, IRS, and LSD, this 2004 Pontiac GTO also has a functional rear spoiler, front strut bar, and traction control. It has leather upholstery, a Blaupunkt six-disc CD changer, power-adjustable mirrors and seats, fog lights, and a tilting steering column, too. And in the interest of performance and ease, a previous owner disabled the sometimes-tricky ‘skip-shift’ feature.

The engine bay of a yellow modified 2004 Pontiac GTO
Modified 2004 Pontiac GTO engine bay | Cars & Bids

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Speaking of mods, this 2004 GTO has quite a few. Under the hood are a K&N air filter, K&N cold-air intake, and a Flowmaster cat-back exhaust. As a result, the seller claims the LS1 makes about 375 hp. So, to help slow this GTO down, it also has a PBR Performance big brake kit. And in addition to the custom graphics and removed emblems, there’s a B&M shifter inside.

With roughly 157,800 miles on the clock, this 2004 Pontiac GTO has been around the block a few times. But apart from some nicks, scratches, and interior wear, it’s in excellent condition. And the seller recently replaced the transmission and differential fluid as well as the engine oil and filter. They also replaced the brake pads, rotors, and hoses, as well as the tires. Plus, they’re including the original emblems, air intake, and exhaust in the sale.

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As of this writing, this 2004 Pontiac GTO is listed for $6500 with four days left in the auction. Considering its condition, that’s a below-average price. A good-to-excellent condition manual 2004 GTO usually costs $16K-$23K, Hagerty reports. And that’s significantly cheaper than a vintage GTO.

Not only is a 2004 GTO cheaper than a first- or second-gen classic one, but it’s also easier to live with. It’s “just plain reliable,” Hagerty says. Furthermore, the LS1 V8 is renowned not just for its durability and reliability but also for its tunability. You can easily keep modding the car or enjoy it as is. And even with that thundering engine, a modern GTO makes an “easy” daily-driver recommendation, The Drive notes.

So, if you want a bargain muscle car, this 2004 Pontiac GTO might be worth checking out.

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