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

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Pontiac always did have a few tricks up their sleeve, and the Sprint OHC 6 proves it!

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1966 Pontiac LeMans Sprint 6 - Jeff and Marie Hamlin just might disagree that 6 cylinder engines are boring
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By Society Staff – reprint with permission only

This LeMans, equipped with the OHC sports package, was built in Framingham, Massachusetts and shipped to Ray Forshay Inc. Pontiac in Long Branch, NJ. It was early '66 when this mid-sized car was picked up by its new owners, the Reverend & Mrs. Sakin of Little Silver, N.J. The original paperwork includes an invoice that showed the car had a base price of $2,642.86. Options and taxes raised the final price to $3,603.66 list! That's a high price for this model, considering that the base price GTOs were only slightly more.

We can't tell you much about the car's life while in the hands of Rev. Sakin, but it must have been a good one judging by the car's condition when we were introduced to it back in July of 1985. I was working outside, on one of my many Pontiacs, when a man visited. He said that he had a LeMans to sell and asked if I would be interested. With that, I was on my way to take a look. The funny thing is that we went to a local parts store, which I had visited almost every week, and not once had I ever noticed the old LeMans sitting behind the store. The man told me about all the work he had done on the car and how well it ran, but after working on the cam, he couldn't seem to get the car started. I didn't really care about that because my intentions for the car was for it to be a donor car for other projects.

A deal was stuck, and $400 later we towed the car home. Into the line up it went. Even though my intentions for this car was to part it out, I decided to see what was wrong with the engine. At least a look would not hurt. So into it I went with a fresh battery in one hand and a full gas can in the other. She wanted to start, but just wouldn't. I called my brother-in-law who was good with engines and over he came. To my delight, we found the cam was mis-aligned. We discovered that this engine has three timing marks, so we removed the timing belt, reset the timing to the correct marks, put the belt back on and the engine fired right up! The timing was 180 degrees out!

Well this changed everything. This car was now going to be our winter car. A "Snow Tank", if you will, for my girlfriend, now my wife. We installed a new battery, tires, front & rear brakes, front suspension, complete exhaust system and a new trunk floor, and she was ready to go. The LeMans was a very dependable car until mid-January of 1988 when things started to happen too often, but we will not go there. Let's just say the car was telling us something! By this time, I had moved to, of all places, Long Branch (talk about small circles!). It was also around this time that I located a storage/shop.

The rebirth of this car began while it was in a storage garage, and while I still tinkering with other cars, I started to collect as much information as I could on the car and its little 6-cylinder engine through swap meets, car magazines etc. I think I may now have the largest collection of information about the Pontiac Sprint Option. It is truly amazing to me how many magazines did write-ups on this automobile/engine combination. Along with the info, came the parts-lots of parts, parts all over the house.

The restoration started slow with lots of wrenches thrown into the gears, sometimes stopping us dead. I can't tell you how many times I didn't think we would be able to finish. If there is only one thing to pass on to someone interested in restoring an old car it would be to tell them to get focused on one target and not to shoot all over the place. I think that if I had not worked on so many cars at the same time, the LeMans would have come together a lot faster. In spite of, all the set-backs we managed to stay on track.

With almost all the needed parts in hand, and a new shop/storage facility, things were really coming together. I had removed all of the many coats of paint from the body and was starting to get estimates on the forthcoming restoration. Wilson's auto body/restoration turned out to be the shop for us. With all the details agreed to and in writing, the car left for Wilson's on a flat bed in January, 1993. That was a great day for me because five years was way too long, especially when the car was just sitting around for two of those years.

Finally, one day in April of 1995 the LeMans was finished. Well, at least the body was. She looked great; the quarter panels were as smooth as glass, the color match was right on and the paint looked wet. Only about three more weeks were required to get her ready for her debut, including installing the entire interior, re-detailing the engine compartment, and cleaning and coating the underside. On May 20th and 21st 1995, we took her to her first showing at, where else, the boardwalk of Long Branch at a show for the Ronald McDonald house. Happily, she won her first award: BEST STOCK APPEARANCE. A great day indeed.

Two hot ships side by side!

The Sprint stripe really enhances the look! Not to mention that the car is done to perfection.

Few show goers get an opportunity to see a fully restored OHC Sprint in the flesh - especially an HO version.

Sprint interiors had all the amenities of a GTO, if one chose to go that route.

The heart of a lion. The lowly six had some Tiger fangs with this mill.

That cam cover was really something!