Bookmark this Page!
Website Index
Join Us - Help Preserve Auto History

Don't Want to Join Now?
Help Us Grow Our Collections
Donate $25

Donate here
They Support Us -
We support them

Volunteer to Help Us!
HIGH QUALITY ART PRINTS FOR EVERLASTING MEMORIES
Your Premier GM Gifts Destination
Keith Hawley - Fine Art Photography

Home/News and Feature Articles/*Featured Cars and Trucks/Pontiac Featured Cars/ 1960s Cars/

News-Features

Check Out Eric's Wall (click here) for More Pictures! Leave a Comment!

Any Downloadable Files
Associated with this Article

(Click on the file name to download it)
 
 
 
 
Perfect! Photo taken at Lake Elmo, MN

Click HERE to Print this Page

1967 Pontiac GTO convertible - Eric White's gold Goat has got it all!
Click on the Thumbnails
Below to Enlarge

By Eric White and Society Staff – reprint with permission only

Shortly after moving to Minnesota from Michigan in the fall of 1978, I noticed a 1967 GTO in the parking lot of the apartment complex where I had taken up residence. The more I looked the car over, the more I liked its design, especially the grille and tail light treatments. With my first good paying job nailed down, I immediately began the search for my first muscle car. My quest led me to Mound, MN and a red 1967 GTO convertible. Due to the fact that the car wouldn't start (tired timing chain), I was forced to flat-tow the dead Goat all the way to those apartments in Oakdale (a suburb of St. Paul) behind my '74 Ventura, in the middle of an early February snowstorm. Ah, the ignorant bliss of youth. I kept that first GTO until March 1982. Before selling it, however, I took the time to salvage the set of rare reclining/headrest bucket seats for use in the next GTO I would most certainly soon possess.

In the late spring of '82 my present GTO comes into view. After selling my red, 3-speed automatic goat, I had immediately begun to track down another '67 convertible, this time I wanted a manual trans car. Thanks to the Tradin' Times, a local wanted-ads paper, I found a black, 4-speed, drop top car in the Twin Cities' "Midway" area. After a close inspection and some numbers checking, I determined that the black paint and white top were wrong, and a 1967 326 c.i. engine had found its way into the engine compartment. Not to worry, the paint and top were in decent condition for now, and as a replacement for the little 326, I already had a big-cube 428 ready and waiting at home. The seller claimed to have rebuilt the 326 engine, but he couldn't come up with any receipts to back up this dubious story. Additionally, I wasn't too crazy about the custom wheels and new tires that were on the car as it was presented for sale. Mr. seller replaced the wheels and tires with a set of used Rally II wheels and used tires. A deal was struck for about a thousand dollars less than his asking price.

The first thing to go was the 326. I sold it to a friend, and my suspicions about its condition were confirmed. When it was torn down, the 326 turned out to be very used and not very rebuilt. I bought the engine back, salvaged what I could and scrapped the rest.

At this point I became slightly ambitious, and removed the GTO's front clip. The front suspension was disassembled, stripped, rebuilt, repainted, and reassembled. After refinishing the front half of the frame the 428 was installed.

As soon as the front clip was replaced, a set of '69 Grand Prix 14" x 7" Rally II wheels were located and restored. To further update the suspension, I laid my hands on a set of heavy duty anti-sway bars and boxed rear lower control arms originally installed on a 1971 Chevelle SS.  Sixty series, raised white letter tires and nylon bushings for the front anti-sway bar end links really flattened the curves.

About this time a friend and co-worker, who also drove Pontiacs, purchased a '67 400 HO engine. When the engine was disassembled for inspection, he didn't like what he found (sound familiar?). Before returning it to the seller, he asked me if I would be interested in the HO/RA exhaust manifolds and the original Fresh Air carburetor tub. You bet! I know a good thing when it falls neatly into my lap. Yes, I did check, and the engine was not an original Ram Air unit.

I was now ready to attend the 1983 P.O.C.I. national convention in Niagara Falls (slowly I turn...), New York. Or so I thought. Two days before I was to leave, I noticed a small pool of coolant under the front bumper. Sure enough, the old 4-core radiator had seen its better days. Luckily, I was able to get it re-cored in time to leave on schedule. That 428 gave me 14.5 overall mpg, and not one bit of trouble until I got to a point just west of Chicago on I-80 on the return trip. A tired clutch fan seized up, and the search was on for a nearby GM dealership or parts store. After a two-hour delay I was back on the road again.

In the spring of 1984 I decided to perform another engine transplant; exchanging the 428 in favor of a '67 GTO YS 400 c.i. powerplant. Off came the front clip again. This time around I had the inner fenders and radiator core support stripped and repainted. With the freshly detailed engine compartment, new carpet and top boot, I took the car to Kalamazoo, MI and my first GTOAA national convention.

On April 1, 1985 I bit the bullet and started in on a body restoration project that would last nearly five months. I could no longer trust the floor of my trunk to hold a full tank of gas off the pavement. Also, two previous repair areas had deteriorated to a point that could no longer be overlooked without considerable eyestrain. The real triggering factor was the supposed availability of a reproduction trunk floor due out on the market by the spring of that year. I purchased an N.O.S. fender to take care of one trouble spot, and a patch panel would solve the rest of my visible problems. Once I stripped the paint, however, I found evidence of more sheet metal sabotage. Here's how it happened.

Over the years I have traced the history of the car back to its original owner. Mark was nineteen years old and the lucky recipient of a high military draft lottery number, when he decided, in the summer of 1967, to buy a new GTO. It had to be a convertible with a four-speed and Safe-T-Track rear differential, and with no other options required. A friend of his worked at a St. Paul Ford dealership and was able to locate the "right stuff" at Arrow Pontiac, on University Avenue in St. Paul. I later discovered through the Pontiac Billing History Card that the car was originally billed to the now-defunct Roster Pontiac dealership located on E. Seventh St., also in St. Paul, MN. I also learned that this GTO was invoiced on July 7, 1967. On the day Mark took delivery, with two of his friends along for the ride, the proud new GTO driver lit the gold goat's tires up for the first time. It occurred on his way home to the east side of St. Paul (about three miles from where I then lived). He stopped right on highway 12, which is now I-94, and sidestepped the clutch. Wide Oval white lines went up in haze. His friends were impressed.

He had his fill of cruising fun until one damp night in the summer of 1969. During one of his customary passes through "the loop" in down town St. Paul, he lost control of the car and hit the parking ramp abutment of the Dayton's department store. The front of the hood was crumpled halfway back to the scoop opening, and the right rear quarter panel was severely mauled. Luckily the knockout shot to the chin was perfectly centered, and the frame wasn't damaged. But by this time, he'd had enough of the car, so the insurance company paid him off and sold the injured muscle car, through an auction, to a body shop owner. The shop replaced the front clip, repaired the right rear quarter panel, and in turn sold the GTO to a high school kid. He kept it for several years and sold it to a friend. It passed through several other owners until I happened along.

Over the years it had acquired a 1966 GTO hood and rear seat covers, the 326 already mentioned, an aftermarket shifter, and of course wrong color top and body paint.

Since I was this far into the restoration project, I sprang for an N.O.S. tail light panel from the local Pontiac dealer's parts department, and hoped that the body shop doing the repair work for me could locate a suitable replacement panel for the right rear corner. After spending a full week trying, without any luck, to find a good used panel locally, the shop asked me to try my luck at locating one.

My good fortune was stretched to the limit when on the hottest day of 1985 I located an N.O.S. LeMans hardtop quarter panel at a salvage yard situated about sixty miles west of the Twin Cities. Good luck stuck around, as I also happened to locate, within a few miles of my home, a nice 1967 GTO hood equipped with an original hood-mounted tachometer. 

While this conglomeration was in the shop being reworked I was busy restoring all of the car's stainless steel trim; no small undertaking when dealing with a '67 GTO. This task required more than 50 hours of backbreaking, wrist-aching work to complete. My GTO convertible was ready to show by August, 1985.

Repainted its original Signet Gold and fitted with a new black top and tilt steering column to accommodate my long legs, the car was very nearly the way I would have ordered it in 1967, if I had even known what a GTO was at that time.

1986 saw me and my Goat traveling to Columbus, OH for the GTOAA nationals. Rain in Iowa, on the way to the show, made for a rather hectic clean-up before the concourse event. All of my efforts were rewarded as I took home my first national-level prize.

Shortly thereafter, I was awarded a class trophy at the Muscle Car Review Muscle Car Nationals in Union Grove, WI (1988), and another GTOAA class trophy in Wichita, KS (1988).

The year 1986 saw my GTO in print for the first time, when Classic GTO Newsletter ran a feature story on my car in their July/August issue.

In 1987 I acquired a set of original red fender liners. After many hours of scraping the scarred layers of red plastic off the inside of the liners with a razor blade, I had the extremely rare option screwed onto the GTO where they have remained to this day.  Along with the red fender liners, I installed a set of JA code Rally II wheels, reissued Firestone F70 x 14" redline tires, and to top off the nicely contrasting splash of red, twenty red-center lug nuts. The same friend who supplied me with the fender liners, also sold me a correct WT-code 400 c.i. engine that presently resides in the car. One more addition was made to the options list this year; a power seat track for the driver's side seat.

In 1988 I purchased a set of Hurst wheels. I then traded a complete '66 tri-power set-up for four original Hurst trim rings and then proceeded to spend an additional bundle of bread having them rechromed. I sand/bead blasted the wheels, polished the spoke's raised edges and wrapped a second set of red line tires around the scarce forged aluminum/steel hybrid wheels. With this latest tire/wheel combo, I now had three different "looks" for my top-down beauty. Since then I have collected a set of four Deluxe wheel covers that I will someday combine with the standard stamped steel wheels and wide oval white line tires (the way my car was originally delivered). And stashed away in one corner of my storage building is a set of "poverty" caps looking for plain wheels and blackwall tires.

A last change to my GTO's option list was completed in 1989. As the car was delivered in '67, it was equipped with the standard "idiot light" instrumentation. In 1985 I upgraded to the optional factory rally gauge cluster. As you may know, this package includes oil pressure and coolant temperature analog gauges, teamed up along side an in-dash tachometer. No clock was available with this cluster. With a hood-mounted tachometer, the in-dash unit was slightly redundant, but the factory didn't officially offer a specific "hood tach" gauge cluster until late in the '67 model year. For the time being, I was obliged to explain to all curious observers why I had two tachs on/in my car.

In the spring of '89, two good friends, and fellow LOLGTO club members, came up with something I couldn't resist. From the northern part of MN they had purchased a genrerously optioned but seriously rusted '67 LeMans hardtop, equipped with a front bench seat and four-speed transmission.  I had planned on installing a four-speed tranny in my '74 Ventura someday, and a bench-seat shifter would certainly come in handy if I wanted to retain the original, full-width couch in that ride. Among the many options included with that red LeMans were a hood-mounted tach and rally gauges.  I glanced at the instrument panel while conducting the surgically precise removal of the shifter unit. Just what I had seen in that dash didn't fully register until after I got home that evening. The gauge cluster didn't contain the usual in-dash tach like the assembly I already had in my car; instead it featured a rally clock! I had only heard of one other such cluster at that time. The next day I called my buddies and quickly arranged to return to the donor car to retrieve the ultra-rare set-up for my GTO. Since then I have personally seen only two more identical units, still housed in their factory-issued GTOs, one is in Grand Ledge, Michigan last I heard and the other is in a '67 GTO in the pacific northwest.

No other visual changes have been made to my golden hued chariot since 1989. In 1990 a second magazine feature story, this time in GTO Enthusiast magazine, was printed. The late Paul Zazarine, who at that time was working for the Dobbs Publication Group, attended the GTOAA International Convention in Bloomington, MN, in part, to photograph GTOs for a book he had in the works for Classic Motorbooks Int'l. My car was chosen to appear in this first Muscle Car Color History series work covering the 1964-1967 GTO. About ten years latter, one of the photos that Paul shot that day was selected to grace the jacket cover of Jim Wangers' autobiographical memoir book “Glory Days: When Horsepower and Passion Ruled Detroit.” Most recently, David Newhardt has photographed the car for inclusion in the 2009 coffee-table monster, "Pontiac's Great One GTO."

Since the 1985 restoration, I have traveled over 70,000 miles in restored drop-top GTO splendor. The old girl still shows well and holds her own in most any event I enter her into. Until the next total restoration is needed, I'll keep on having fun.

1969. Two years old and in the hands of its second owner.

Nice shot of the original jack.

Hard hit to the nose.

Here's the car dressed in its third repaint, black metallic Imron, shortly after I bought it in 1982. It already has the headrest bucket seats and 7" wide Rally II wheels.

On a fall color cruise with my GTOAA chapter, the Land of Lakes GTO Club. This is 1991.

The famous Hurst wheel beauty ring ground reflection. I did run Royal Bobcat fender badges for a short while in the early 1990s.

Interior shot showing the reclining passenger seat back, headrest bucket seats, Custom Sport steering wheel, console and 4-speed shifter.

2011 photo of the engine compartment.

Right hand side from the same year.

Me and my Goat at the 2009 Detroit-area Eyes on Design car show. My GTO was entered in the "Pontiacs: The AF and VK Years" class. I was awarded a red ribbon.

The old Goat, May 2011.

Another shot from May 2011. Car currently wears the Hurst wheels and radial-ply, red-stripe tires for better ride quality and much better handling.