1965 Pontiac GTO


The Pontiac GTO was the car that introduced muscle to America: Andy Craig introduces us to his '65 special.

A very good friend of mine got turned on to the idea of an early muscle car and I helped him to find this one after quite a search.

That was 2006 and when we drove it home I told him that I had to have it. He kind of agreed to let me have first refusal, but I got the impression that I shouldn’t hold my breath! About two years later – out of the blue – he told me I could have it. For the rest of my life it will belong only to either me or him.

The '65 GTO has an understated presence for an American Muscle Car

If the extensive history that came with the car is correct then it was sold new to Rabler Motors in Riverton Wyoming. It was then used moderately for ten years before being stored for some time and then restored in the early Nineties in Salt Lake City. From there it went to New Orleans and then Norway before landing in the UK.

The engine is a Pontiac ‘389’ (actually more like 6.4 litres and not the 6.5 it says on the badging!) with famous ‘Tri-Power’ carburettors. A reproduction Ram-Air kit has been fitted, including the tricky modifications needed to make the bonnet scoop functional, but apart from that it’s almost standard. When new, GTOs had around 360bhp and could manage 0 – 60 in around 6 seconds.

Only the relatively subtle scoop belies the Tri-Power

The gearbox is a Muncie M21. A close-ratio version of the M20 which keeps the shift points close together and the revs higher.It was such a good transmission that many were taken from road cars and put into far more powerful racing machines – no modifications necessary. And yes. You lay rubber very easily.

Smoke. Without mirrors.

The Montero Red paintjob was applied last year. It had been painted beautifully in Salt Lake City in 1991 and still looked gorgeous. Unfortunately there were a number of very small areas that needed attention and so the decision was made to do a full repaint.

I had to sleep in a van for eight months to pay for it, and now it looks pretty much the same as it did before!

With a relatively small body and standard 'three-box format.

pics: Dom Romney for Influx