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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Reunited with my GTO after 40 years, I began the 2000-mile drive home

On a moody fall Saturday, the last bit of sunlight flitted between Rocky Mountain peaks, flashed across the glacial valley and through thick aspens crowding the Trans-Canada Highway, and exploded through the water-streaked windshield right into my retinas. Kaleidoscopically orange, green, white, black-the sunset was backed by the primal 3000-rpm beat of the 1967 Pontiac GTO's 400-cubic-inch V-8.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/driving/getting-my-goat-john-l-stein-regretted-selling-his-gto-for-40-...
48 REPLIES 48
Snailish
Gearhead

I enjoy car stories told like this. The pictures really added in this case as well.
Swamibob
Technician

Wonderful story John! Since the steering box is bad, now might be the time to upgrade it to a nice 12:1 fast steering box. I've done that many times on a lot of A-body GM cars (including several Tempest/Lemans/GTO's) and it makes a huge difference in the driving. An upgrade to KYB **bleep** highway or more speeds. Love the car! Feel free to touch base with me if you need any help.
Sajeev
Community Manager

Sorry about the bleep, we are working on a bleeping fix for this bleep, @Swamibob so please bear with us. 

MeJ
Advanced Driver

Thanks. My post makes no sense now!
Swamibob
Technician

MO problem Sajeev. I've been bleeped, for no reason, before. 🙂
MeJ
Advanced Driver

Great car story. A couple things:
-That engine looks exactly like the one I had in my '69 Firebird (Wrecked by a guy running a Stop sign). No point, just brings back memories.
-..."Comparatively, man counts for nothing—except for our historic ability to screw nature over..." truer words have never been spoken.
-I can't believe this car only racked up 1200 miles since you originally owned it. It's like **bleep** based on electric vehicles...
FatBabyDriver
Intermediate Driver

Beautiful. The best car story I've read in a long time. If Never Stop Driving gets a 2nd edition, this belongs in it.
DavidHolzman
Advanced Driver

Wonderful how classic cars bring people together.
tmkreutzer
Detailer

Really well written and very engaging. Great story!
38Chevy454
Intermediate Driver

I've had my 68 GTO for 42 years now. I can relate to the old memories and the new; as well as the in-between since my ownership never took a break. Car has been running the whole time. Although it doesn't get many miles each year for past 20 or so. It's like the car is part of me I have had it so long. Like me it is in need of some cosmetic updating, but it still works good.

It always puts a smile on my face when I drive it. Hope your car does the same for you  John on every time you take it out.

DUB6
Specialist

As a fellow Poncho owner/driver, I can really appreciate this story (although, there are no "big block" Pontiacs - small faux pas).  I have driven through much of the same country as in the article, and your writing does it justice.  Glad you and the Goat found each other again!  😄

hyperv6
Racer

Not disagreeing but many get confused due to the smaller 301 engine offered in later years.

 

Those not Pontiac fans see it as a small block while we see it as a boat anchor. 

MustangJim
Technician

Anchor is doing it justice!
Snailish
Gearhead

Interesting... I was always told there were no small block Pontiacs. Shrugs.

 

Someone deeper in the lore than me could explain if the late 70s-81 301 is a true extension of the 326, 389, etc. family or something else.

 

I do know that my father swapped a 301 into his C10 in the 90s and that engine got no respect from anyone. Ran fine for years.

hyperv6
Racer

The 301 was a smaller version of the Pontiac engine that was used for the new down sized GM cars. It became a corporate engine used in other brands like my fathers Buick. 

It was similar in design but it was a smaller lighter version that really shared few parts. Oddly it did share the oil filter mount and the low deck tooling in the plant of the 303 Ram Air 5 that never really got into production outside over the counter parts. 

It lived a short life and was never the power monster likes it’s larger siblings were back in the day. 

If John Delorean had stayed at Pontiac they had plans up to a Ram Air VII and possibly more. All that dies when he left. 

The Ram Air Tunnel Port heads were copied by Pontiac in an odd way. 

George Delorean was a Pontiac racer who went to Mercury for a year. One of his exMercury team mates gave him the Ford Tunnel port heads and block and George then called Pontiac to send over their engineers. 

Plaster cast were taken and the parts were returned to Ford never knowing Pontiac had copied them. 

 

Smilodon
Instructor

Are you speaking of the Ram Air V round port heads? The Pontiac 301 was a weak, 3 main bearing crank POS that wouldn't have existed, without the US government and gas mileage hysteria. No real 400 based heads are as described, and anything for a 301 or 301 turbo should immediately be recycled. Ram Air V heads were not copied from Tunnel port 302 Ford heads- this urban legend, pushed endlessly by Ford folk tired of Pontiac taillights, keeps traction. Why love the lie?
Smilodon
Instructor

Yeah, so many Chevy and other brand's heroes don't understand how Pontiac engines work. Had a '63 LeMans Sport, came with a 2bbl 326 and that accursed catenary "rope" driveshaft. Refloored it as a Nova, replaced the 2spd transaxle with a GM generic 12 bolt 3.90, put a '69 spec 400 Ram Air 3 and Muncie wide ratio 4spd- everything underhood fit the 400, because all '60's/'70's Pontiac V8 engines are dimensionally identical. Oh, cuz I'm kinda an a**hole, I put 421SD emblems on her, and to the derps, called it a Pontiac AFX car. Wish I'd never sold that one. Damn near seven hundred pounds lighter than a '64 GTO. And yes, she would run.
Tango42
Pit Crew

Great story - really enjoyed it! The fact that I too was born early in November 1966 and live a few minutes south of Worcester, MA somehow made it even better. Its my dream to do a road trip like this someday.
ccrvtt
Intermediate Driver

I've read a lot of car stories over my 72 (gasp!) years and this rates with anything from Peter Egan, Jack Baruth and others in my pantheon of great automotive writers. Please post an update on the health of this most important car.
AK_Driver
New Driver

77 years.....and agree!
hyperv6
Racer

Having grown up in a car centric group of friends I have a number of GTO and Pontiac stories.

Our daily drive to school was a 63 GP with a Ram Air IV and we expanded from there.

One of the craziest drives was in a 65 GTO we redlined thinking it had a 3:73. We found later it had a 3:07. We were running a Tri power 428 with a Ram Air cam. The car protested mightily but we pressed on even as the back of the hood rose above the cowl.

The adventures of youth and no fear lead to a number of interesting a great memories.

Perhaps we all **bleep** write our experiences down as those of the electric future will miss out on the fun. 

Peter is a great writer. My favorite is Lance Lambert. He has two great books and a number of columns that beat most claimed writers. 

BrentF
Intermediate Driver

PIcture 12 is pretty sweet
leusgs
Pit Crew

He drove it home with the seller's Alberta plate? Alberta plates stay with the seller. Once the car is sold it shouldn't be on the vehicle anymore. Driving without registration.
FloridaMarty
Instructor

Great story! Enough already about the BLEEP.
JeepDave
Pit Crew

Congrats on your reunion.

We had a '65 GTO with a post back in the day and I wish I could cross paths with it again. Even if it had to come home on a flatbed. haha.

Great story!
MustangJim
Technician

What a great story. Thanks for sharing this. You have fullfilled many of our fantasies of that special car that we all once had. I hope you are enjoyng the Old Goat regularly!
Mavio
New Driver

November 1967 I purchased a fire engine red 1968 GTO with the same engine but a 5 speed transmission. I was a recent college graduate and 22 years old. I called my insurance agent and he laughed when I said I wanted to insure the car. I had to return to the dealership and return it and settle for a Le Mans with a 350 and three speed Hurst. Two weeks ago I traveled with my Corvette club driving down the Washington and Oregon coast in my 22 Elkhart Blue C8 HTC. Insured by Hagerty of course. Times have changed.
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

Great story and great pictures. Quite a fun road trip.
ermadear55
Pit Crew

I love reading car stories and this was one of the best I’ve enjoyed. Great writing, felt like I was riding along. A life long trucker I had traveled the roads in the story several times. Enjoy your goat! She’s a beauty.
Joivalfesa
New Driver

What a nice story, please let us know how it ended the car's steering repair and how is the GTO doing today!! Thanks and congratulations!!!!
HotRodGTO
Intermediate Driver

Great story and very well written. It was nice to take a break from work and enjoy the article and pics. I would love to take my '64 on the same trip.
63vette63
Pit Crew

I loved the story and the pics. I've been a GM car guy all of my life and have owned at least 56 vehicles so far. Of those, 32 have been GM...mostly Chevys but that's largely due to the fact that the most of any model car in the bunch have been 9 Corvettes. 10 have been Pontiacs -,mostly mid '50's to mid '60's. with 3 Fieros in the mix. Anyway, early mid to late '60s are my favorite years and '67 is the absolute best overall - especially GTOs! '66 & '67 are very similar but the grilles on the '67's make all of the difference. A '67 GTO, with a 4 speed, whether coupe, hardtop or convertible, would be my absolute first choice. Congratulations on reacquiring and getting reacquainted with your GOAT,,,ENJOY!
Ken_L
Intermediate Driver

Wow, what a great story.
I had a 1967 GTO that I purchased around 1971, when I was still in high school, for $700 and had a fresh 400 motor installed. Surprised I survived the 4 years before selling it because of gas prices - too much power for a kid to have anyway. Pretty sure it has long gone to a crusher, so I never have tried to find it.
My wife found a Corvette that we sold 23 years earlier and bought it back for our 30 year wedding anniversary. All of the little defects that I remember it when I had it are still there, so it takes me back to that earlier time when I was still a young guy. Nice to get those memory's back.
PB
Pit Crew

In June of 1983 at 16 years old I purchased my first car a silver 67 GTO convertible auto, AC and power windows. I painted it regimental red then sold it about a year later in the Philly area and I’ve been looking for it ever since. Great original story and even better reunion story. Hopefully I’ll get a phone call like that some day…soon I hope!
Spookysgarage
Intermediate Driver

This was such an amazing piece of writing! I am envious of that and the road trip! Well done!
TG
Technician

My neighbor had a 67 GTO - beautiful car, but he spent way too much time and money restoring it, and it came out so nice that he was afraid to drive it and eventually sold it - something I always keep in mind with my projects... I want them nice, but not too nice
turbojoe62
Intermediate Driver

Great story by a great story teller. Enjoyed!
GeorgeWA
Detailer

Great Story … Thanx
DBrown
Pit Crew

Great story! This made me take my 68 Tempest convertible out of the garage ( been on the lift for a long time...) and drive it.
Lash
Intermediate Driver

Really nicely written!
unclemartin
New Driver

I can fully understand how you feel. I few years back this article about me and my 1965 GTO ran in the Hagerty newsletter. Good luck.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/archived/got-the-goat/
DUB6
Specialist

@unclemartin - your is a good story as well - a fun read.  Congratulations on never giving up and on getting that GTO back into your life!  😃

2005E55ANG
Pit Crew

Looks like the body was cleaned up a bit since the last time you saw it.
This was my first car when I was eighteen, 400, 4 speed, 3.90 rear, 850 double
pumper, and a swapped in M-22. Bought from my friend in 1977, for $225.
It was his moms car, he had a red one. Loved that car, still have a picture of it
sitting in front of me as I hit the keys of my computer.
Sportington
Pit Crew

Great piece. My brother had a 64 GTO that he bought for $500 in mid 70's and then sold it for about $1500 in mid-80s. He mentions that car very often and regrets losing it.
GoldGTO69
New Driver

What an amazing story which actually makes me a bit jealous even though I am very happy for this GTO fan. My 1969 GTO was stolen in December of 1979 and never recovered. It was the first love of my life and I planned to keep it forever. It was an awesome combination of muscle and luxury for its day since it had a 4 speed Muncy Trans, Holley 4 barrel and everything you'd expect from a GTO. But it also had power windows, AC, am fm stereo, rear window defroster and was immaculate.
I should have replaced it right away. But life created other priorities and I never did. However, I hope to be able to write a story like this one someday.
DUB6
Specialist

@GoldGTO69 - Brother, I sincerely hope you get to write that story.  I'm sorry some creep stole your car.  That would be terrible.  What a bummer.

Smilodon
Instructor

Sweet.
77GL
Detailer

Ronald Reagan was president in 1981, not Nixon.
12.8 mpg average on a road trip? OUCH! That's motor home territory. That also explains why most vehicles of the era came with the small V8 and happily settled on only 95% of the performance of the larger engines as their heavier duty rotating masses all the way through the drive train were a drag on the higher performance of the engine.