POCI’s Greater Ozark Chapter – GTO Feature

GTOs on Route 66

(from the Greater Ozarks Chapter newsletter Vol 23 #6)

The production year of 1966 was the first year for the GTO to have it’s owndesignation. It was also the year of the most produced GTO. While 1966 is well knownas the last year of the Pontiac Tri Power, for most of the GTO addicts, it is almost anecessity, regardless of the year of their car. These three GTOs show that their ownersdo agree on that premise, but not necessarily the body styles.

The convertible belongs toWayne Price, the hardtop to Charles Buchannon, and the sport coupe to Jerry and Dustin Miller, all with ‘66 Tri Powers. The location of the shoot was chosen to continue thetheme of sixes. The old Sinclair gas station is located just past Halltown, Missouri, onold Route 66. So we have three 1966 GTOs, with three Tri Powers (6 barrels), threedifferent body styles, and The Mother Road, Route 66.Wayne’s Barrier Blue/white topped 66 is the latest purchased GTO. He and his wifewere born in 1966, so the year was partiallychosen for that fact. The car was purchased less than a year ago, and was really nicewhen he got the car. BUT, as with all carpeople, the car isn’t “exactly” the way hewould have ordered it. It came with aCarter AFB carburetor, and a column shift automatic. The tri power (restored by JonHavens in St Louis) was the first changethat he and his Dad did to the car. The interior is medium blue, with new coversfront and rear, and now the console withfloor shift. The Rally IIs are 14X6, andwere on the car when purchased and maychange someday. We all know that a car isnever really finished, because either wechange our mind, or something comesalong that we can’t resist. Wayne may benew to this car, but is in the automotiveparts industry management, so parts is inhis blood. In the owners words;“Many of my family/friends know I havewanted a 66 GTO for many years. I found a ragtop locally, and in the process of validating its value, I found this car oneBay in Boise, Idaho. The classic car dealer had a few invoices from the guy he boughtit from, but didn’t have all the facts on thebuild. I found a name that ultimately led meto the original restorer, Jake Spoor. Through several conversations with Jake, I learned a lot about the building of the car:full frame off, YS engine rebuild(bored .030. mid-range performance cam,forged pistons, upgraded distributor andcoil), turbo 350 with a shift kit, and frontdisc brakes. Although I never made the tripto Idaho, I wound up talking to a number of nice folks at the local O’Reilly’s parts andpaint department that had great things to say about the dealer, and especially about thebuilder.In the many hours of educating myself on the GTOs, I found my GTO and I were both“born” in Fremont, California in the Spring of ’66. One thing that I like about the car isit gets lots of interest from teenagers to seniors, and my teenaged daughter’s friends allthink it is very cool. I took the car to a local mechanic to fine-tune the “trips”, and on the drive home, “tested” them a bit. The smile was still on my face when I walked in the house! ”Charles’ Torch Red 66 has been with him for a while. It is nearing completion for theway he wants the car, but again, are they ever finished? In the owners words:“I graduated from Missouri School ofMines in 1966, and rewarded myself with anew GTO. I traded that ’66 in on a new ’70GTO in September 1970. I still own that’70 and in January 2005, I rebuilt theengine and took it to a local body man t orehab and paint. I still loved the ’66, so after finishing the’70, I started looking for a ’66. In January2006 I bought one locally that seemed ingood shape. I had found many things wrongwith the assembly of the ’70, and decidedthat I would try to rehab the 66 myself,with the idea of having a “20 footer” that Icould drive when and where I wanted. Istarted to disassemble the ’66 and foundmore rust and damage than was apparentwhen I bought it. I then built a rotisserie and started cutting out and welding patchpanels, both full quarter panels and mini tubbed the rear for wider tires. Whenworking on the frame, I boxed the upperand lower control arms, and replaced all bushings and shocks. I had the M20 transmission rebuilt, and checked the 3:55 gears. For the engine, I had all the machinework done and installed a Comp XE 262c am and had the block, heads and intake powder coated, and added Hooker Headers. I did all the bodywork myself (many hours sanding), but had a friend spray the base/clear, color sand and buff the car. The moreI finished, the better it looked, so I forgotabout it being a “20 footer” and finished itup as a show car. I installed billet pulleys,chrome master cylinder and booster, chrome alternator, smoothed the firewall andcovered it with polished stainless steel and put stainless on the underside of the hood.And I installed a set of polished American Racing Torque Thrusts wheels.”Jerry and Dustin Miller’s Starlight Black 66was a true labor of love. In the owners’words:“It was Dustin’s dream to re-build a 66GTO. A Starlight Black, black vinyl topand black interior (the infamous TRIPLEBLACK combination) was found in 2005. A father/son project, we purchased it as abasket case and have built it to the specs wewould have ordered. When we purchasedthe car, it had less than 25K miles, was aone owner and had last been licensed in1968. It was a Tri Power car from thefactory, automatic with column shift. It hadthe 4:33 rear gears, and transistor ignition.PHS on the car said it even had red fenderliners. With no option chosen on the wheelcovers, it was delivered to the originalowner with poverty caps. Tachometer andgauges were also factory. A radio, heaterand power brakes were the only comfortoptions, but quick ratio power steering wasadded as part of the re-build. We did a bodyoff restoration of the car, detailed the frame, and had the body work, painting andinterior completed. We also had the enginemachine work done, but assembled the YRengine with 093 heads themselves and alsoconverted the automatic to an M21 fourspeed. The car has a PYPES aluminized exhaust system with HO exhaust manifoldsand performance X-crossover-Siamese design 2.5” aluminized steel pipes. Itsounds like a GTO should! All the stainlessand aluminum pieces were polished, and anew vinyl top installed and all new interiorcoverings. Dustin wanted the wheels to beunique and worked with Bonspeed inCalifornia on the design. The wheel chosenwas a black and chrome spoke design; 17inch wheels on the front, and 18 inch inback with Michelin sport tires all around.”So is it “finished”?  No, Jerry is looking forsome more forgiving rear gears for highway driving.

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