By on July 11, 2012

A Grand Touring car is— or used to be— a big, fast, luxurious machine made for long drives to high-roller destinations. Once automobile manufacturers figured out that they could stamp out GT badges just as cheaply as Brougham emblems, we started seeing some truly silly GTs on the street. Say, the Hyundai Excel GT. Or the Plymouth Scamp GT, which wasn’t even a car. Even with those examples to choose from, my vote for the most absurd GT has to go to the Pontiac Vibe GT. Do you think a decadent, Quaaludes-and-Chartreuse-addled Italian countess would have driven a grubby little badge-engineered Toyota econobox to Monaco at an average clip of 115 MPH?
Though, on second thought, the Scamp GT may have the Vibe GT beat for Least Appropriate Use of GT Badging. What do you think?

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

73 Comments on “Question: What’s the Most Ridiculous Use of “GT” Badging?...”


  • avatar
    KixStart

    GT has meant so little to me for so long that it’s hard to come up with a “most ridiculous” candidate.

  • avatar
    pecos bill

    I vote for the 2000-era Pontiac Sunbird GT!

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I nominate Elantra GT

    • 0 avatar
      Crabspirits

      I do as well.
      The 3rd gen elantra GT is so unremarkable that I notice it in traffic. Especially with those hot “GT” drum brakes clearly visible.

  • avatar
    jaje

    Pontiac should have named the special model “Vibe Rate R” instead to market it to the customers who really bought it.

    Anyone else remember the Cavalier Rally Sport?

    • 0 avatar

      Remember the Cavalier RS? I just found one! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/junkyard-find-1990-chevrolet-cavalier-rs/

      • 0 avatar
        Advance_92

        Any kind of RS or GT badge in the US is pretty much useless, other than on a VW Golf and most recent Hyundai Elantra. Maybe you could include the Impreza from a few years ago compared to the base model, though it was overshadowed by the STI and WRX.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Wow the whitewalls on that Scamp GT do really make it a special GT.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    “BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo”

  • avatar
    replica

    Celica GT. It was the base model, but a GT.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    The second to last generation of the Celica (1994 – 1999).

    The GT meant absolutely nothing other than the buyer getting the same engine that was in the Camry. In order to receive anything vaguely reminiscent of sporty handling, you had to order the ‘Sport Package’.

    What’s the purpose of offering a GT model if there is nothing sporty about the vehicle?

    I would put this car on a higher plane of GT irrelevance than glorified econoboxes like the Elantra and Vibe since the Celica was meant to actually be a sporty model in the first place.

    That generation Celica GT was purely a contradiction in terms.

    • 0 avatar
      DJTragicMike

      There was a guy who did track events in Texas who drove a celica GT with a body kit and coilovers. Nice enough guy I guess but a poor choice of dedicated track car.

  • avatar
    pbr

    No actual “GT” needs badging to identify it as such.

    The better question would be: of all cars bagded “GT,” which ones actually qualify?

    (thinking …)

    • 0 avatar
      Bunter1

      Wow. I think you nailed it.

      Bunter

    • 0 avatar
      azmtbkr81

      How about the Bentley Continental GT?

      Ford GT? It is arguably more of a sports car but more of a GT than a Pontiac Vibe GT.

      A Mustang GT (with leather) is arguably a poor man’s GT.

      Also I think that Ferrari had a number of cars in the 1960s that had the GT label and were true GTs.

      Still you have a point, actual GTs are rarely labeled as such.

  • avatar
    dave504

    You guys already covered it a few months ago:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/junkyard-find-1992-ford-escort-gt/

  • avatar
    jetcal1

    There seems to be some confusion here.
    The modern iteration of GT means Get Taken.
    It’s marketing code for consumers who don’t know what they’re buying.

  • avatar
    cadarette

    I’ve had just about enough of this Pontiac bashing.

  • avatar
    spyked

    The GT concept still fits in certain cases. I’ve always preferred the Miata GT (Grand Touring) over the Miata Sport throughout the NC/3rd gen range. Grand Touring not only means sporty, but also amenities.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    While the Vibe GT may not have been a traditional “Grand Tourer” as you insist the nameplate suggests, it was still a pretty quick little car with the 2Z engine and a 6 speed manual. It was basically a 4 door Celica GT(!)

    GT isn’t a ridiculous badge as it doesn’t mean anything anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      GT-S*. GT was the base trim with a 140 hp 1Z.

      • 0 avatar
        Mrb00st

        actually, the base Vibe had the 138bhp 1Z-FE. The Vibe GT had the 170bhp 2ZZ-GE with VVTLi, Yamaha head, six-speed, etc.

        In the Celica, GT was 1Z-FE, GT-S was 2ZZ-GE.

        Of course that only applies to first gen Vibe. Same with Matrix – S and XR were a 1Z-FE, XRS was a 2ZZ-GE. I think now the Matrix XR and XRS both have a 2.4L camry motor (base has 1.8L corolla) but the XRS has IRS.

        WAY TOO MANY TLA’S.

  • avatar
    carve

    Ford Escort GT.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      At least the Escort GT had a unique engine and upgraded suspension. I have to go with Pontiac using GT on the base Grand Prix.

      • 0 avatar
        Geekcarlover

        I owned an LX version for a while. A coworker had a GT that he let me try out. Yes there was a noticeable difference. But I always thought it would have been more accurately labeled a RS (Rally Sport). But then again, the common thread in the comments seems to be GT, RS,SS, ect mean whatever the manufacturer wants it to.

  • avatar
    Marko

    GMC Yukon GT.

  • avatar
    SuperACG

    Model T-GT?

    ;)

  • avatar
    KalapanaBlack

    In 2004, Pontiac eliminated the Grand Prix’s “base” trim and renamed it GT. Before the 2007 trim reshuffling, the “GT” was an optionless base Grand Prix, with wheelcovers and the base suspension. In 2007, the GT was the midleve supercharged L67-engined GP, after the GTP was eliminated to make room for the short-lived V8 GXP.

    I’d say a 2005 Grand Prix “GT” with no options and 16″ wheelcovers qualifies as a major misuse of the letters.

    • 0 avatar
      grzydj

      GXP had wider tires in the front than the back right?

    • 0 avatar
      28-cars-later

      Let me pick your brain KalapanaBlack since you have knowledge of rental car practices. I picked up a 2008 Grand Prix in 2010 at Mannheim which came with all of the loaded ‘GT’ style luxury options minus the supercharger (which was dropped for 2008) and the traction control (which was an option in 07/08) but it came with 16in steelies instead of real wheels. Initially when it was running through the block I figured it was a special order (since there was only base and GXP in this year) and the dealer switched out the wheels with cheepies because they were dumping the car. The fact I later found a tpms sensor was missing from just one wheel made added to this theory, that when switching they missed a sensor by mistake. The car itself had been driven an awful lot in its short life (53K at the time) and whoever was driving it last did not reset the trip computer and put 37K on it quickly, so I figured this was the dealer’s wholesaler’s free personal ride, and when it hit 50Kish, they just wanted to dump it before it lost too much more value.

      So my question is, would Hertz or other rental companies that you know of order fully loaded ‘base’ model GPs in their final year and then delete the wheels to save money?

      (Yes I am aware a Carfax could reveal this information but I’m old school and like to play auction detective).

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        They wouldn’t order it that way specifically. There are several scenarios that I can think of…

        -A renter switched the wheels and it flew under the radar during its rental career. When the ’06 Impala came out, a TON could be seen running around big airport rental lots with ’05 LS alloys, presumably because renters switched them. Usually for the tires, not wheels.

        -The wheels/tires were stolen/damaged at some point and the rental company had extra 16″ wheels/tires laying around, or got a deal on replacements that were smaller. If the car wasn’t a manufacturer guaranteed buyback car, this would have been a good option for the company. If it was a guaranteed buyback (most GMs are), this wouldn’t fly at the auction and GM would have rejected it until the wheels were corrected.

        -It could have happened after its rental career. Whoever bought it at the end of that (dealer? other lease company?) could have bought it with bald tires and, again, had extras on hand or got a deal on smaller wheels/tires.

        -This is probably the most likely scenario, though. It was a last-year special built to odd specs by GM and then foisted on the rental company. There are tons of oddballs running around like this. In ’07, we were getting run-out-special Malibu “Classic” sedans with base 16″ wheelcovers, cloth, and zero options other than heated front seats and the up-option 3.5L V6. They were analogous to the cheapest $18k Malibu LS from ’06 but had those two stand alone options. No cars were available to consumers like that. We currently have fleet-special Chrysler 200s LXs with heated cloth front seats, 6-speed auto, 2.4L four, power driver seat, and the base wheelcovers. This model is specifically only built for fleets as a guaranteed buyback so that Chrysler can squeeze a little more money out of it with popular options when they go to resell it, since they’re the ones guaranteeing a certain amount to the fleet in trade for the car after it’s completed its rental career. Normal consumer LXs have manual seats, no heated seats, the 4-speed auto (a 2.4/6A combo is only available in consumer Touring and Limited models, which have alloy wheels), and a different radio head unit than the fleet models.

        Hope this helps!

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        The force is strong with this one…

        Thank you I appreciate your insight KalapanaBlack. After hearing this I do believe GM just did odd things in the final year probably for the buyback, this dealer bought it at a Manheim GMAC type sale with 17K or so, switched the wheels for new tires because they had them lying around at the dealership, and just ran the hell out of it for a year or two. Mystery solved.

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        I just re-read your original post and saw that it was “MINUS the supercharger.”

        I can tell you exactly that this is how it came from the factory… 2008 wasn’t exactly a banner year for the Grand Prix’s non-fleet sales, as one can imagine. Rental GPs that year came basically three ways:

        -base, cloth interior, manual climate, power driver seat, base radio, 16″ ALLOY wheels.

        -yours, which is loaded up just like the previous year’s supercharged GT but without the 17″ wheels (it has dual-zone auto climate, leather, dual power seats, heated front seats). Possibly the “sun & sound” package which got you power moonroof and Monsoon-branded 9-speaker stereo.

        -GXP, which was more varied in the options presented (some had dual autoclimate, some had manual climate, some with sunroof, some without, some even had the head-up display, some did not).

        I never saw a non-GXP ’08 with alloys AND the leather/autoclimate/up-options, and vice-versa. When the “stop building” order comes down from the top, the company uses what parts it or its suppliers have in stock. This usually means last year mixes of base wheels with leather, stand-alone sunroof, 4 cylinder engines with loaded interiors but no previously standard alloys, etc. The previously restrictive option packages that lean manufacturing has dictated in the last 2 decades go right out the window, harkening back to the old days of custom-ordered bench seat/vinyl/wheelcover/AM radio-only cars of the ’60s that packed the random big block engine and 4-speed transmission.

      • 0 avatar
        chicagoland

        Fleet orders will have some ‘delete’ options from standard trims. GM usually offers ‘OnStar delete’.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        This is SO General Motors

        So final year we offer the V6 model in

        -Stripper base model with few options BUT 16in Alloys

        -Ex-GT model with all the fixings BUT no Alloys for you!

        Thanks again KB, your knowledge on the subject is fascinating.

        My brother is looking at a ’12 Impala, I wonder if those year rentals will be mix and match as well later on. Evidently he was very impressed with the police version when he came off a ramp and an A6 blew by him getting on the exit and stupidly cut him off… he went from launch to pinching the jerk in about seven or eight seconds.

    • 0 avatar
      chicagoland

      Yes, it was true brand dilution seeing rental Grand Prix GT’s around OHare airport being driven slowly. The official term was ‘GT1′ for base GP’s for a couple of years. Pontiac wisely removed ‘GT’ from base GP for its last few years.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Yugo GT?

  • avatar
    PaulVincent

    I drove a Vibe well over 8,000 miles on vacation in the western U.S.A. and no way would it hit 100 mph let alone 115 mph.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      It was probably the base 128 hp one, not the up-option GT with the 180 hp engine.

      Your rental was basically a Corolla with 100 lbs of wagon bodywork attached. That thing runs out of breath at 65…

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Any car where GT or S is just some body cladding on the base model.

  • avatar

    I carpool with a guy who drives a Silver Pontiac Vibe GT. I can’t really stand that car. The proportions are bad, the interior materials are bad, the seats are substandard even with that lovely suedo-leather on the bolsters. Most of all I hate the GM style radio and the way the automatic shifter lever juts way too far out of the dash. Ugh.

  • avatar
    mrdweeb

    At least not many manufacturers have gone with the full GTO designation. Who can forget Car and Driver’s tongue in cheek Ferrari vs. Pontiac comparo?
    http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/gto-vs-gto-road-test

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Although not “GT,” GM slapping SS on the Malibu Maxx was pretty darn egregious abuse of a similar moniker.

    Mitsubishi slapped GT on the Outlander CUV – another non-car usage.

    The 1987 Ford EXP GT was a slap in the face to those two letters. 10% heavier, 10% slower, and unbelievably nose heavy, the EXP GT would have circles run around it by just about any other two seater that existed during that time frame.

    I could swear Dodge, Chrysler or Plymouth had a “GT” version of the Chrysler triplet minivan. I’m thinking Dodge?

    I’ll also add that slapping an “S” (although not a GT) for “sport” on the current Toyota Corolla is a slap in the face to “sport” oriented sedans everywhere. It is about as bad as The Ford Tempo GL-Sport from 1986 to 1987. Hey, a throttle body fuel injector to produce two extra horsepower and some 14″ alloy rims were the “Sport” modifications that mattered. The rest was appearance (but at least didn’t have the tact on after thought look the Corolla S has)

    • 0 avatar
      Mark MacInnis

      Hey, go easy on the ’85 Tempo GL Sport HSO. I had one, and the engine put out 110 horses…a 25hp increase on the base model, as I recall, and that was not unsubstantial back then.

      It also had stiffer springs and shocks, alloys, and some sweet psuedo-Recaro seats with side bolsters and a 5 spd trans.

      I kinda liked it. To me, it was a ‘baby T-bird” Drove it for 4 years as my first real NEW car, and it never disappointed me.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverInfidel

      I have a maxx ss and was going to mention it. One of the first things I did was remove those badges. Its been a decent car for what it is, and reliable. Typical GM build quality issues, but yeah the SS moniker is a joke.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    The more I think about it, the more I feel I need to come to the defense of the Vibe and its Matrix cousin (Toyota doesn’t use GT but some other alphabet soup).

    The GT (and its Toyota cousin) got you a better suspension, better steering, larger alloys with bigger rubber, disc brakes all around, and depending on model years 40ish to over 60ish more HP.

    There are for more egregious uses of GT through history than the Vibe GT.

  • avatar

    I’ll go old school and nominate the Pontiac GTO. John DeLorean and Jim Wangers ripped off Ferrari. The term originally applied to a touring car that’s been homologated for racing and Pontiac applied it to a Tempest with a big motor.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    How about the 1975 Vega GT ? I seem to remember some college friend having one , new , in orange with the white interior , to match the school colors at the University of Texas . Not sure exactly what came with the car besides badging to rate the GT designation and I believe this particular car even had the automatic . And that the friend was not pleased and wanted to keep his grandmother’s sixties Comet instead of the Vega .

  • avatar
    KalapanaBlack

    To keep the Pontiac love going (not trying to pile on, but they DID use “GT” waaaay too much), wasn’t there a GT trim on the Aztek?

    And the Grand Am GT with the storming 150-odd horse 3.1 V6 and 3-speed auto from the ’90s.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Yup. There was an Aztek GT – I still say the Yugo GT has it beat, but damn that’s close.

      As more of these bad examples are listed, the Vibe GT is looking like at least a somewhat fair use of the letters.

      http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/pontiac-aztek-gt-road-test

  • avatar
    punkybrewstershubby

    On the flip side, I think that the Probe GT in the 93-97 vintage was a most excellent use of the initials.

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    What a strange coincidence, I just saw a Plymouth Scamp today for the first time in many many years.

  • avatar
    dvdlgh

    Anything without “Ferrari” on it.

  • avatar

    I nominate the telephone company GTE. It wasn’t the least bit sporty.

  • avatar
    slow kills

    I am so glad that nobody nominated the Opel GT.

  • avatar
    DannyZRC

    As others have pointed out, the Vibe GT started out as a manual only 8200RPM thing, which is fairly racy as far as modern powertrains go.

    They kept the model names, but when they went to the 2nd gen of the Vibe/Matrix they replaced the 1.8 with a 2.4, and lost the 6 speed, and even sold them as automatics.

    So not only did they ruin the vibe’s good looks, but they shitcanned the fun and fizzy powertrain.

    We have an ’03 Vibe GT, and it’s awesome, so shut up. :p


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India