Welcome to the Beginning

This is the beginning. My first post. I will start by warning you that I’m going to violate many rules of grammar and writing, as I have just done by using a contraction. Now that my disclaimer is out of the way, it’s time for cars.


GTO at the Bridge
The subject, a 1965 Pontiac GTO, rests near a railroad bridge outside my hometown.

What you see here is a 1965 Pontiac GTO that more or less belongs to me. My dad bought it in an auction several years ago and is holding it as my “college graduation incentive,” meaning if all goes according to plan it will officially be mine come May 5, 2018. Before you get in a fuss about “daddy’s money”, bear in mind that the only reason this came about in the first place is I was fortunate enough to receive a full academic scholarship to attend the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!). I have also done some of the work on this G.O.A.T. myself, and what I have not done my dad has.

The car is far from perfect, but it shows well in pictures. There is bondo in the rear quarter panels and it could use a repaint. Never mind the problems we have already fixed or will be fixing in the near future; including but not limited to: brakes (twice), transmission leak (fixed once, came back), power steering pump and gearbox, minor oil leak, broken rear control arm (see picture below), overheating in traffic, and sagging rear springs.

 

The story behind this control arm is a classic tale of trial and error. It began when I noticed a popping sound coming from the rear of the car on the way to a car show. First, we assumed the driveshaft was binding because the springs were shot and the back end of the car was sagging. That needed to be done, but it didn’t fix the problem. Next, we checked the adjustment on the brakes. The adjustment was fine, but the rubber brake line was dry rotted so we replaced it. After the noise still didn’t go away, we checked the rear end grease. Alarmingly, there was almost no grease to be found, but the noise was still there after filling up the housing. Finally, my dad discovered there was a crack on the control arm facing the top of the car, thus being out of sight from underneath the car. After replacing this, the noise was gone.

About the car

My dad acquired this car from an auction in a small southern Kentucky town. The previous owner got the car from his uncle, who dragged it from a barn in the early ’90s and restored it after cleaning out decades of chicken poop. The original owner was an older lady, which likely explains the unusual options for a GTO and low miles.

The only factory engine for a GTO in 1965 was the quintessential Pontiac 389. That’s what is in here and it’s stock with the exception of a mildly hotter cam. Unfortunately, this is not a Tri-Power GTO, nor is it a 4-speed. Instead, it has the period-correct (if not original) Carter AFB 4 barrel and an automatic transmission. The transmission is not Chevrolet’s famous Powerglide two-speed auto, but instead the lesser-known General Motors Super Turbine 300 two-speed. It has manual drum brakes all around, and is currently wearing some balding Firestone bias-ply redline tires. Those will be replaced soon enough, most likely by the ubiquitous muscle car Cooper Cobra Radial G/T tires.

IMG_1625
Redline radials are prohibitively expensive, so raised-white-letter Cooper tires will likely replace these period-correct bias-ply redlines. Old, saggy springs were still on the car in this picture.

No 12-bolt here. The rear end is a GM 10-bolt, but like the transmission, General Motors hadn’t gone full corporate parts bin yet. The 10-bolt in a GTO (or other Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac models) was different from the 10-bolt in a base model Camaro. I won’t pretend to know what parts are different, I just know that they aren’t plug and play. This Granny G.O.A.T. doesn’t even have Positraction. One-wheel peels for days (if I actually did burnouts)! The Famous Green Hornét has the market cornered on one-tire fires anyway. Speaking of green, this GTO was originally Palmetto Green. Black is much better.

Future Plans

I dream of being an automotive journalist in some capacity, so I began this website to showcase my abilities (or lack thereof) as a writer and photographer. That brings me to my most ambitious plan yet for myself and my GTO – Hot Rod Power Tour. For those who are unfamiliar with Power Tour, it is a grueling 1,500-mile road trip organized by the people at Hot Rod magazine. This year, it is taking place in the southeast, and begins in wonderful Vette City (Bowling Green), Kentucky.

Power Tour is famous for its ability to draw muscle car fanatics in droves, as well as its ability to push their rides to the absolute limit. It seems like I listed a lot of issues earlier, but in reality most of them can be resolved well before the posse rolls out of Beech Bend Raceway on June 9. I am, however, concerned about my Poncho overheating, since there is only so much a near-stock cooling system can do – even if it is in fully working order. I might jinx it here, but the 389 under the fake hood scoop runs like a top. Before you ask, I don’t know if it’s the original engine or not. I will do my best to find out before Power Tour.

Including transit to and from the endpoints of Power Tour, I should log somewhere around 1,600 miles on this voyage. With only about 58,000 miles on the odometer so far, that is more miles in seven days than this ’65 GTO has averaged per year from new. That’s a tough task for any old American iron, but I think the Shadow Catcher (that’s its name) will survive. It helps that the engine isn’t high-strung, but that won’t keep it from devouring copious amounts of premium unleaded.

TL;DR

  • Car: 1965 Pontiac GTO
  • Engine: 389 cubic inch Pontiac V8 w/ Carter AFB 4bbl carburetor
  • Transmission: GM Super Turbine 300 2-speed auto
  • Rear end: Open differential GM 10-bolt, unknown ratio
  • Wheels: 14-inch Pontiac Rally Wheels
  • Other: Power steering, manual drum brakes
IMG_1637
Ignore the bad background from this old iPhone picture. This angle is too good not to add it to the article.

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