- The Washington Times - Friday, June 28, 2002

Bob Lutz, General Motor's vice chairman for product development, wants to hear those tires squeal when the upcoming Pontiac GTO takes off and buyers may squeal when they discover that their new "muscle" car has a federal gasoline guzzler tax added to the sticker price.
This acceptance of a "guzzler tax" on a GM product is a major change in the automaker's long-standing practice of avoiding the tax.
"For a car to be credible, accepted as a rebirth of the rear-drive American muscle car, it has to have that rocket-sled acceleration off-the-line,'' Mr. Lutz said at a media event in Munich, Germany.
Mr. Lutz said the 2004 GTO, based on the Holden Monaro assembled by GM subsidiary Holden Ltd. in Australia, will be produced with a modified version of the Monaro's 5.7-liter V-8 with more horsepower and higher torque at low speeds for quick acceleration. The price for this increased power is reduced fuel economy.
The GTO's horsepower has not been released by GM. But asked if the target is 350 horsepower, Mr. Lutz said, "You're in the right neighborhood." Currently the Monaro's V-8 produces 302 horsepower and 339 foot-pounds of torque.
Mr. Lutz acknowledged that with the engine modifictions, the GTO will be subject to the gas guzzler tax. "We'll offer American-style off-the-line performance of squealing tires."
Collected by the Internal Revenue Service, the tax applies to cars not light trucks that have combined city and highway fuel economy of less than 22.5 mpg. The amount increases as fuel economy drops. Currently the Dodge Viper is the lone American-built vehicle subject to the tax. Its tariff is $3,000.
GM avoided the tax on its high-powered Chevrolet Corvettes by engineering the sports car's powertrain to include a skip-shift feature on cars with manual transmissions. The skip shift locks out second and third gears under moderate acceleration and boosts the car's combined fuel economy above the 22.5 mpg mark.
The last car produced by GM that was subject to the tax was the Cadillac Allante. The model was dropped in 1994.

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