GOLD GOAT GOES

ORBIT ORANGE

Story by owner Perry Andrew                                                Photos by Bob Wicker

 

I had been searching for a 4-speed hardtop with a/c GTO for 15 months and could not find anything decent that was not overpriced. On Thanksgiving day 2006, with money on hand from a previous car sale, a friend of mine was at his sister-in-laws for dinner and stumbled upon this original looking 70 GTO sitting in the driveway across the street. The guy was originally storing it for his mother in the garage but after a while put out it in the driveway under some pine trees and it was on its way to becoming one of those old cars that would rot away just sitting there. It turned out to be a complete unrestored car with factory a/c but the transmission was an automatic. We found out that the owner did want to sell it but she did not realize that the condition of the car was not as good as it had been due to sitting outside and she wanted too much money for it. I gave her my phone number just in case she would change her mind. I felt sorry for the car and wanted to save it even though it did not have the 4-speed that I desired. A couple months later I got a call from her and a deal was made. I brought it home February 4, 2007. The car came with some original delivery paperwork dated October 24, 1969 from Gillman Pontiac right here in Houston with the original owners name and address, so I did a search on the Internet and came up with a phone number. I spoke to the original owner who still lived at the same address and he told me that when Pontiac stopped making the GTO after 1974 he stopped driving the car on a regular basis and the 64,700 miles on the odometer was original. It was always garage kept when he owned it. He was not trying to sell the car, but had it at a repair shop one day when someone approached him wanting to buy it. He told me that he had been approached many times over the years and did not really know why he decided to sell it this time, but after 32 years of ownership he did. The guy that wanted to buy it did not have the money and talked his girlfriend into buying the car as an investment. They split up and he still thought the car was his and would come to her house and take it. Her son lived in Coldspring, Texas and she brought it there to keep him out of it and that is where my friend found it.

As soon as I got it home the first repairs included removing the carpet that had gotten wet from an a/c leak, a complete brake system overhaul, a front suspension overhaul and other things to make it road worthy. After I got the car I was not sure what to do with it and was trying to decide if I should keep it or sell it. I was still looking for a 4-speed a/c car and stumbled upon a 72 GTO 4-speed parts car on Cragslist. I got to thinking about converting the 70 to a 4-speed and building the car I wanted, and know for sure what I have instated of wondering what is under the paint. I went to see the 72 parts car and found a complete car minus the hood that had been sitting outside for over twenty years and had so much rust that it was not worth saving, but had all the 4-speed parts I needed to do a conversion. A deal was made and I was on a mission. Ironically the envelope that the title was in had a phone number on it and it was the original owner who had just sold the car to the guy I bought it from. I spoke to her and found out the 65,200 miles on that odometer was original as well. She told me the car was running rough when she stopped driving it over twenty years earlier and intended on restoring it one day. How many times have we heard that story. She turned down many offers to buy the car over the years and even built a fence around the car so people could not see it. When I got the parts out of the car and was inspecting the transmission I discovered it was a M22 "rockcrusher"! It was original to the car. I lucked out even more than I thought in the first place. And the car was in such bad condition rust wise that I did not feel bad parting it out.

I got the 4-speed conversion job complete and then in June 2008 I took the motor, transmission, gas tank and interior including the dash out of the car, pressure washed the engine bay and under carriage and brought it to my brother-in-laws brother, David Elkins for bodywork and paint. The car came from the factory with baja gold paint and a gold vinyl top with saddle interior. The vinyl top was removed when the original owner had it painted but the molding for it was still in place. I had to decide if I should keep it's original color with vinyl top, but I really did not care for the colors and don't really like a vinyl top on this body style. Since I was building a car the way I wanted it and originality was out the door after the 4-speed conversion, the decision to change the color wasn't really all that hard. But deciding on a color was, and I really liked the saddle color interior and needed a color that would look good with it. I wanted to build a combination that was possible to get in 1970 so I looked at all the colors for that year and thought that orbit orange really stood out. It appeared that black and sandalwood were the only interior colors offered with orbit orange, but after some research found a couple special order cars that had the saddle color interior from the factory. Since orbit orange was basically a Judge color, and in my opinion did not look good on a car without the Judge stripes, I had to make the decision to clone a Judge which I sort of frowned upon and would cost me more money to build. Well you know what my decision wound up being.

In July 2009 I got the car back from David who did a beautiful job on the body work and paint job.The next fifteen months were spent getting the engine compartment and trunk detailing complete and drive train up and running, exhaust and gas tank installed and adding the Ram Air system and a Eaton 3:55 posi with all new bearings and seals, and a complete interior restoration.Some of the original options to the car are radio and tape player, remote mirror, console, power disc brakes, air conditioning, rally II wheels, power steering and soft ray glass. Some other options I added are factory rally gauges, a clock and a hood tach.

The project was completed in October 2010 and other than the bodywork and paint, my friend Ronnie Bayer and I did all the work. I am very happy with the way it turned out and I really enjoy shifting through the gears and going to local shows and cruise in's giving people a chance to see a piece of automobile history.

 

 

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