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Old 02-18-2019, 03:02 PM
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ZeGermanHam ZeGermanHam is offline
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Default 1966 GTO: Restoring my first car

After about 22 years of ownership, I'm finally able to begin restoring my first car, a 1966 GTO. I thought I'd create a thread here to document the process and ask questions along the way. And perhaps you all will make some and enjoy the ride.

The backstory is that this is my first car, which I got in 1997 when I was in high school. We paid around $2500 for it, and although we knew it was rough around the edges, it is a true 242 GTO with PHS docs. Original build specs are as such:

- Assembled at the Pontiac, MI plant
- Delivered to an unknown dealer in Jacksonville, FL
- Post/coupe body
- Cameo Ivory exterior
- Black interior
- 389ci 4Bbl 335hp
- Auto trans, floor shift w/console
- 3.23:1 Safe-T-Track differential
- Deluxe wheel covers
- Air conditioning
- Soft-Ray tinted glass

Although it was sold new in Florida, it somehow made it back up to Michigan, which is where I grew up and bought it. By the time I got my hands on it, it had been resprayed (very poorly) in red, had a warmed over 400ci engine with RAIII heads and TH400 trans thrown in it, and an Olds 12-bolt posi rear with 4:30 gears. It was (is) a tired old car, but it was fun to bomb around in when I was sixteen.

Once I graduated high school in 1999, I was in college and too broke to do anything with it, so I put it in storage and moved all over the country, eventually landing in Seattle. After it sat in storage for nearly 20 years, I finally had it shipped from Michigan to Seattle in December, 2018 so I can begin restoring it. This is where the fun begins.

Plans are to do a complete bare metal frame-off nut & bolt restoration. It's going to stay red with a black interior and dog-dish hub caps, but I'm going to build a new engine (400/461 stroker) and upgrade the brakes and suspension. Once it's finished, it's going to get driven hard.

On to the photos...

How it looked in high school. Same as today, other than the wheels.


Seeing the light of day for the first time in nearly 20 years. Getting ready to be shipped across the country to be with me, finally.



Its new home with me in Seattle. This is where I will be doing all the work myself, except for metal and paint work.


Data plate


Other than the door panels, the interior is largely original. I foolishly cut the dash in the '90s for a modern stereo... Oh well, it can be fixed.


A crusty but low mileage (under 10k miles) 1975 400 500557 engine. This block replaced the warmed over 1970 400 that I got the car with (cracked a piston). I was a teen and needed a new block ASAP. I will probably clean this engine up and use temporarily as a cruiser, but I also have a nice untouched '68 400 block that I'm going to do a proper 461 stroker build with at some point.


Carpet removed. There are a few thin spots, and the front passenger footwell is totally shot, but it's much better than I thought it would be. Door sills are rock solid. Inner wheel housings look good, too.


The worst of the rust in the floor pan. It doesn't creep up the front kick panel very high, so should be easy to fix.


Found a for sale sign inside the rear quarter panel when removing the interior. Someone sold it for $550 at some point. It says 'INQUIRE AT STATION', so I'm guessing someone took it to a service station when the original 389 wasn't running right and it turned out to be a blown engine so they just dumped the car and left it for the station to deal with. That's one theory, anyway.


Inside of left rear wheel arch with trim removed. Very solid. In fact, the wheel openings at all four corners are in really good shape, except the very bottom few inches behind the rear wheels.


Leading corner of right rear wheel opening. Solid.


Left rear lower quarter behind rear wheel. This is about the worst of it. The rot only extends a few inches up on both sides of the car, so should be an easy patch job.


I was very happy to see that the inner dash metal wasn't rusted out at the base of the windshield. There is some rust visible outside the car at the base of the windshield, so I'm sure some work will be needed there, but at least it appears to not have crept inside the car.


The trunk pan, rear deck (base of rear glass), and parcel tray are all shot. The trunk lid itself has rust along the rear edge, and the door shells are also significantly rusted out. Fortunately, I was able to find a pair of very solid original doors (no easy feat with a post car) and a trunk lid, so I don't have to worry about fixing the existing doors or trunk lid.

Anyhow, that's all for now. I will be updating this thread periodically as I make progress, and I'm sure I'll have lots of questions for you folks along the way. Thanks for reading!

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1966 Pontiac GTO (restoration thread)
1998 BMW 328is (track rat)
2007 Subaru Impreza 2.5i 5-door (daily)
View my photos: Caught in the Wild

Last edited by ZeGermanHam; 02-18-2019 at 03:36 PM.
  #2  
Old 02-18-2019, 07:27 PM
roy381 roy381 is offline
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Looks like it has great bones to start with. Good luck on your endeavor! Looking forward to your future posts.

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Old 02-18-2019, 08:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roy381 View Post
Looks like it has great bones to start with. Good luck on your endeavor! Looking forward to your future posts.
Thanks, Roy! I had convinced myself over the last 20 years while the GTO was in storage that I would find it to be nearly beyond repair once I started taking things apart and looking more closely. Fortunately, that has not proven to be the case. Each time I start poking around, I'm finding that it's solid except for the typical areas that I already knew about. Often when you start peeling back the layers, you end up with a pile of dust in the end.

While I'm sure more issues will be revealed when it comes back from media blasting, my biggest fear of it being a total basket case is diminishing, fortunately. One of the previous owners had it heavily undercoated, including drilling holes and spraying inside the body panels. While this created a huge mess that I now have to painstakingly clean up, it may have been what saved it from the death sentence that cars in Michigan are typically faced with.

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View my photos: Caught in the Wild

Last edited by ZeGermanHam; 02-18-2019 at 08:48 PM.
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Old 02-18-2019, 08:57 PM
66sprint6 66sprint6 is offline
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What's with that warehouse full of cars?

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Old 02-18-2019, 09:01 PM
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Prayers sent. OH, and subscribed!

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Old 02-18-2019, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by 66sprint6 View Post
What's with that warehouse full of cars?
I am a member of a collector car club called The Shop, which is where I store and work on my GTO and BMW track car. Living in a big city, many houses (mine included) don't have garages or driveways, so I have to keep my non-daily driver cars elsewhere. It's a really fun place to spend time. More info here:

https://theshopclubs.com/

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Originally Posted by Old Goat 67 View Post
Prayers sent. OH, and subscribed!
Ha, I'll need 'em!

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Old 02-18-2019, 09:41 PM
gtospieg gtospieg is offline
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Cool project...love the post cars...I have a 67...will be following along as you "post" your progress

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Old 02-18-2019, 11:24 PM
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Good luck with your build. I did the same thing with my 67 GTO vert, even to the dollars that I spent. All that was posted here about 5-7 yrs ago. I don't know if that thread is still available or not but there was a lot of good help and advice posted in it. Your car is in much better shape than what I started with. It took me several years to do mine but I never gave up, thanks to all the support from the fine folks here. I will be following your thread. Good luck.

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Old 02-18-2019, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by gtospieg View Post
Cool project...love the post cars...I have a 67...will be following along as you "post" your progress
Thanks! I stumbled upon my post car by accident, but I've grown to appreciate them over the years for being a little different.

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Old 02-19-2019, 10:30 AM
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Good Luck on this project! We have something in common, my first car was also a 66 GTO, bought used just out of high school in 1968. What we do not have in common is a place to work on them like that shop, damn I'm jealous about that.

Mike Pearson

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  #11  
Old 02-19-2019, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by fyrffytr1 View Post
Good luck with your build. I did the same thing with my 67 GTO vert, even to the dollars that I spent. All that was posted here about 5-7 yrs ago. I don't know if that thread is still available or not but there was a lot of good help and advice posted in it. Your car is in much better shape than what I started with. It took me several years to do mine but I never gave up, thanks to all the support from the fine folks here. I will be following your thread. Good luck.
Thanks! I'll need all the words of encouragement I can get. This is a project which has been years in the making, and I'm doing it not just for me, but also for my family who also have a bond with the GTO. Lots of sentimental value. I'm hoping to finish the restoration in under three years if I can. I'm 37 years old now, and the plan is to have it done by the time I turn 40.

Your post history should be retained, so I'll take a peek at it to get a sense of what you went through. I'm sure lots of it will apply to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ftwmlp View Post
Good Luck on this project! We have something in common, my first car was also a 66 GTO, bought used just out of high school in 1968. What we do not have in common is a place to work on them like that shop, damn I'm jealous about that.

Mike Pearson
Thanks, Mike! Yes, having work space is nice, and a luxury that I'm not accustomed to. Until this past December, I've always had to work on my cars in front of my house on the street. No garage, no driveway. That might seem somewhat reasonable for the average driver who only does oil changes every 5k miles, but with a track car that needs more frequent maintenance, it was far from ideal. And since I live in Seattle, that also meant planning projects around the weather, etc. But despite having never had a driveway or workspace until recently, I always did my own work rather than paying someone else. I'm now paying a pretty penny to store and work on my cars at the club, but I've found it to be worth every penny.

Also, I can't imagine what it would have been like to buy a 2 year old '66 GTO just out of high school. You must have been over the moon at the time.

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View my photos: Caught in the Wild

Last edited by ZeGermanHam; 02-19-2019 at 11:24 AM.
  #12  
Old 02-19-2019, 05:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeGermanHam View Post

Also, I can't imagine what it would have been like to buy a 2 year old '66 GTO just out of high school. You must have been over the moon at the time.
It was a short lived romance. Driving into work in downtown Fort Worth that next spring I was TBoned by a new 1969 Gran Prix! Car was totaled by insurance, but my Dad had some connection with a local Cadillac dealer who's body shop straightened the frame, but it was never right after the wreck, had to sell it for what I could get.

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Old 02-19-2019, 08:53 PM
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Looking forward to your progress!

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Old 02-20-2019, 12:14 AM
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I think this will take you my thread. It is long and several years old but it may help some.

https://forums.maxperformanceinc.com...starting+frame

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Old 02-20-2019, 07:24 AM
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Nice Project, Best of Luck.
Checked out your storage link, Not bad. It nice to have a place to work and with 200+ a month rent hopefully it keeps you motivated .
When I was just out of HS my folks didn't have a garage so I rented shop space, back then I was paying $100 a month per car,
so X3 got out of real quick but it sure kept me pushing on to get them finished.
Best of luck!
Cheers.

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Old 02-20-2019, 10:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fyrffytr1 View Post
I think this will take you my thread. It is long and several years old but it may help some.

https://forums.maxperformanceinc.com...starting+frame
Thank you! Much appreciated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Hamlin View Post
Nice Project, Best of Luck.
Checked out your storage link, Not bad. It nice to have a place to work and with 200+ a month rent hopefully it keeps you motivated .
When I was just out of HS my folks didn't have a garage so I rented shop space, back then I was paying $100 a month per car,
so X3 got out of real quick but it sure kept me pushing on to get them finished.
Best of luck!
Cheers.
Thanks! Yes, paying a monthly fee for workspace is indeed motivation to keep the project moving along. But that said, spending time there and having access to all the amenities brings enough joy to my day to day life that make it easier to justify.

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View my photos: Caught in the Wild
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Old 02-20-2019, 12:13 PM
66sprint6 66sprint6 is offline
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Man, I love that setup. Thereís nothing like that around here. Iím paying 200/mo just to keep my car in an open, frozen lot. Actually it was difficult just to find that. Real estate is through the roof in Toronto and every other place I stored my car has been developed.
Also, the liability thing is probably keeping the idea of a shop like that here an impossibility.

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Old 02-20-2019, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by 66sprint6 View Post
Man, I love that setup. Thereís nothing like that around here. Iím paying 200/mo just to keep my car in an open, frozen lot. Actually it was difficult just to find that. Real estate is through the roof in Toronto and every other place I stored my car has been developed.

Also, the liability thing is probably keeping the idea of a shop like that here an impossibility.
Yeah, it's pretty awesome. Included in the monthly fee is access to lift bays, every tool you could ever want, a tire mounting machine and alignment rack, a wash bay, work benches, grinders, lathes, a hydraulic press etc. And it's located only a few minutes from my office, so I can stop by after work and wrench on my GTO until 10:00pm. The social aspect is nice, too. Someone is always working on something cool.

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  #19  
Old 02-25-2019, 12:45 AM
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Spent another afternoon with the GTO today. I test fit my solid donor trunk lid which fit well and is in great shape.




Also, this was fun...


I took another gander at the heater box under the dash. My A/C heater box is not in good shape. I'm fairly certain nobody makes reproductions for A/C cars, correct? Also, do I have any options for fixing the rusted inner cowl/kick-panel where the heater box bolts to the body? I see that Ames sells reproduction metal in this location for non-A/C cars only. Does this leave me with no other option but to repair the heavily rusted metal I have?


I also removed my windshield trim. No surprises there, other than the rust I already knew about. I think I'll be able to get away with replacing just the lower windshield strip panel.

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Old 02-25-2019, 05:58 AM
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