How Well Do You Know the Pontiac Tri-Power Carburetor System?

By Christopher R. Phillip

If you grew up in the 1960s, the sight of a Tri-Power carburetion system on a muscle car was a sure sign that serious performance hid under the hood. Cadillac, Oldsmobile Chevrolet and Ford all had triple-carburetor systems, but the most famous was Tri-Power from Pontiac.

If you guessed that the GTO was the first Pontiac vehicle to have tri-carburetion, you’d be incorrect. Tri-Power was first offered on the 1957 full-size Pontiacs. By 1959, the factory option was so well known that performance fans actively sought it out. By the time the GTO was introduced in the fall of 1963, the Tri-Power, sometimes called a 3/2 or a Triple Deuce, had been around for seven years.

But make no doubt about it. The GTO was the most famous Pontiac with Tri-Power carburetion, despite the fact that the option was only available on the model from 1964-1966.

The set up was simple. Three two-barrel carbs sat on a specially produced intake manifold. According to our friends at, “The center carb supplies the fuel at all times, except under full throttle. The end carbs are extremely simple. They have no idle circuits, no choke.”

The earliest GTOs used a vacuum-operated system to open the front and rear carburetors. These days, that flimsy system is rarely seen. Instead nearly all GTOs have been converted to a mechanical linkage system.

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