Hagerty: Discovering the Unique Pontiac Tojan

If you’re a member of the Sports Car Club of America®, you’re likely also an automotive enthusiast. Be it behind the wheel, wrenching in the paddock, or volunteering on the corners, no matter which way you choose to participate in the Club, cars are what surround you. What comes with that enthusiasm is a love – or at least a curiosity – for the unique. To that end, Hagerty (SCCA’s official insurance partner that also sports a robust media-production arm) recently produced an article celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Pontiac Tojan. But what the heck is a Pontiac Tojan?

The Tojan, as Hagerty author and automotive personality Paul Cowland explains, is no body kit riding on an F-body Pontiac Trans Am chassis. It was, in fact, the first production car to hit 200 mph.

“Forget what the car books and the Internet tell you,” Cowland wrote in the article. “The first production car to hit the magic 200mph mark didn’t come from Maranello, in the shapely silhouette of the impressive F40. It came from Nebraska, in the slightly more challenging shape of the Pontiac Tojan. And it was three whole years earlier than the annals of automotive history might have you believe. Forty years ago precisely, in fact.”

Designed by Russ Knudsen, the Tojan could be custom ordered through Pontiac dealers, distributors, and the like in the mid-1980s. Most of the Tojan exterior body panels were custom fiberglass, with the exception of the doors and likely the roof, making the Tojan a standout from stock Firebirds and Trans Ams. Yet while the 800hp engine that unofficially hit the 200mph mark could be selected as an option, none of the 135 Tojans produced came with that twin-turbo Banks power.

With the exception of one – the prototype. And it was that prototype that reportedly beat Ferrari to 200mph.

The article’s author didn’t just research the Tojan, he’s a Tojan owner. Better than that, he owns the record-setting prototype.

“I may not have the official timing slip that the guys at Maranello got in 1987, but I’ve got Mr. Knudsen’s word as a gentleman, and Mr. Banks’ mark as an engineer, that I’ve got the world’s first 200mph production car in the garage,” Cowland wrote, adding, “And in my book, that’s even better.”

If you love the unique, this Hagerty article is a must read.

Photo courtesy Hagerty/Paul Cowland