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Old 05-08-2008, 08:17 AM
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Keith Seymore Keith Seymore is offline
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Default My Pontiac Story

This is a compilation of previous posts from some other threads, both so that I can put them in chronological order for the reader but also for my own reference.

I want to start way back at the beginning; if you want to skip to the "good stuff" (ie, get right to the Pontiacs) then start reading in post #3!

Before Dad started racing Pontiacs he was racing Ford products. He had a '60 Ford convertible with a Paxton blower on it that ran pretty well.

As a result, he had a good working relationship with Ford and was even trying to get hooked up with a factory lightweight in late '62/early'63. That didn't happen and is another story for another day...

Tom V might correct me here, because I often see a different name for Ford Racing at the time, but I believe Dad's contact at Ford was a gentleman named Dave Evans. Dave called Dad one day, out of the blue, and said "come on down here; I've got something for you".

Dad got the details. He was supposed to go over to Dearborn Steel Tube and pick up a box. He drove over and they directed him out back to see "Andy". Andy told him "...put this in the trunk of your car and don't open it until you get home".

Naturally, Dad pulled out of the parking lot and into the very first Shell station he saw and opened the box. In it was a complete 3x2 setup for a Ford; everything required for the installation was there. Intake, carbs, air cleaners, fuel lines, gaskets, everything.

After he got home, Dad called Dave and asked "what am I supposed to do with this thing?". Dave said "make it run. We can't get 'em to run...".

After a day or so Dad had the setup installed and tuned and took it out for a trial run. Sure enough, as soon as he went wide open the engine flooded out and stalled. He tried it a couple more times with similar results. He drove the car home, took everything apart, inspected and readjusted everything, reassembled it but still had the same results.

After thinking about for another day, he called a buddy over that was racing a Ford with twin Paxton blowers on it (Brad Burton was his name). They took the car for a ride, same results, and disassembled the setup for inspection. Brad left and Dad went to work that evening, came home and went to bed.

About four am the phone rang. It was Brad. He said "I know what it is! Meet me in the garage!". Dad drug his sleepy self out of bed and went to the garage. They took the carbs apart for the hundredth time and Brad said "AHA! There it is....I knew I noticed something wrong before but couldn't put my finger on it". What he had seen was that Holley had put power valves in the end carbs, allowing too much fuel to flood the engine. "We've got to plug those off".

So that night, in the Chevrolet die room, Dad made his first set of homemade Holley power valve plugs for use in a Ford Tripower!

__________________
'63 LeMans Convertible
'63 Grand Prix
'65 GTO - original, unrestored, Dad was original owner, 5000 original mile Royal Pontiac factory racer
'74 Chevelle - original owner, 9.85 @ 136 mph besthttp://www.superchevy.com/features/s...hevy-chevelle/
My Pontiac Story: http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/...d.php?t=560524
"Intro from an old Assembly Plant Guy":http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...d.php?t=342926

Last edited by Keith Seymore; 05-08-2008 at 08:22 AM.
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Old 05-08-2008, 08:18 AM
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Just to finish that particular story:

After installing the aforementioned plugs and creating a "progressive" linkage, Dad's car was running like a scalded dog. He called Dave Evans.

"How's your cars running?" he teased.

They aren't, Dave replied.

"Mine is" Dad said. Dave told him to get down to the Engineering building immediately.

Dad drove down later that morning, honked the horn at those beautiful wrought iron gates next to Greenfield Village and was allowed entrance onto the Ford facility. Dave met him down by the street and said "Ok. Show me". Dad said "right here?". Dave nodded affirmatively so....Dad backed up and smoked his Atlas Bucrons the whole length of the parking lot. "Wait here" Dave told him. He ran upstairs and brought the respective Engineers down to the street. Dad did it again and then delighted in showing them the changes he had made to their induction system, while another set of Engineers crawled under the car looking at his suspension modifications and still another couple were looking at his shifter and shift linkage.

All in all, a good day...then he would scurry back north to get home in time to work 2nd shift at Chevrolet.

__________________
'63 LeMans Convertible
'63 Grand Prix
'65 GTO - original, unrestored, Dad was original owner, 5000 original mile Royal Pontiac factory racer
'74 Chevelle - original owner, 9.85 @ 136 mph besthttp://www.superchevy.com/features/s...hevy-chevelle/
My Pontiac Story: http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/...d.php?t=560524
"Intro from an old Assembly Plant Guy":http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...d.php?t=342926

Last edited by Keith Seymore; 05-08-2008 at 08:40 AM.
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Old 05-08-2008, 08:22 AM
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How We Got Our First Pontiac:

As I mentioned earlier, Dad was racing Fords in the early 60's (a 60 Ford Convertible, with a Paxton blower on it, you might recall). As the '62 model year progressed and '63 model years drew close he knew that Ford was going to continue to do lightweight packages (fiberglass fenders, etc) for the Galaxie and he wanted one. He started asking his contact at Ford Racing, Dave Evans, about the availability of one of these cars and for factory sponsorship. Dave said "yeah, we are going to do (some certain number) of builds and maybe you can get one of those". Well, the time came and went and....no car. So Dad would call Dave back and Dave would say "yeah, those all had to go to the big name racers....maybe we can get you one from the next batch". The next batch came and went and...no car.

Dad had already met Dick Jesse by this time (another story). Dick, always the consumate salesman, had offered that when Dad was ready to "step up" to a Pontiac to come see him. Dad felt like he was getting the "run around" at Ford* and figured there was no time like the present to make the switch.

His original plan was to buy a used or a leftover '62 Catalina with the aluminum package but Dick persuaded him that he might be able to hook Dad up with a '63 with what he called "the carryover package", at a better price. A few days later Dick called and told Dad to come on down, that he had a car picked out.

They met at Royal and walked out to the Service area. Past the last bay there was a fairly nondescript white Tempest/Lemans coupe and a wagon sitting there - nondescript, that is, until Dick fired the coupe up. The front fenders shook, and the windows shook (and Dad shook!). Dick shut the car off and Dad said "Dick, you know there is no way I could afford a car like that". Dick laughed and said "You're not a big enough shooter to get a car like this. I can't sell you that car anyway....that's George's car" (meaning George Delorean's '63 SD coupe).

Dick also confided that the wagon was to be his own racer. "At least it's an automatic so that YOU can drive it" Dad teased.

Dick admitted that Dad's car was actually over at the Engineering Building on Joslyn Avenue, so they loaded up and headed over. The necessary clearances to get through the gate had already been arranged; they turned the corner and behind the building was a beautiful dark blue '63 Catalina. He learned it was spec'd as follows: Built as a Super Duty car, it was converted over the counter to an "HO" car so that Dad could run B/Stock with it**. It had aluminum fenders, hood and decklid; doors were steel as were the rad support, fender inners and bumper brackets. It had a regular production (ie, "non swiss cheese") frame. Probably the most notable feature, however, was the paint scheme: it was the car that Wangers developed the "Bobcat" appearance package on***. Nocturne blue with the tri color Ventura interior, it had an extra silver stripe around the spear side trim, and silver around the rear face of the deck lid. Eight lug aluminum wheels, with the area between the fins painted blue, the top of the fins painted silver and part of the cap painted blue too (I believe, by looking at the old photo below). Add some wide whitewalls and you have quite a stunning automobile.

Dad was beginning to think that this was too good to be true; another "lark" like the Tempests he had just seen. However, Dick quoted him a price the deal was struck. They headed back over to Royal and within the next few days Dad plunked down $3100 of his hard earned cash and drove home in his first Pontiac racecar.

This is currently my only photograph of the car. I do have some images from old home movies that I am working to recover:
(1/2/2019 - video has been posted to youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lvpCR07taY)



*In retrospect there may have been some hesitancy from Ford management to give a special car and full factory sponsorship to a Chevrolet diemaker. Dad tried Chevrolet as well but without success. For him to be competetive for 1963 the choice came down to either Dodge or Pontiac (...not a very difficult choice!).

**Not long after this Dad noticed a complete SD top end sitting on the counter at Royal. He started to grab it with the intentions of converting his (supposed) HO car to a Super Duty, but Jesse stopped him. They already had cars running in the higher classes and specifically wanted Dad's car to compete in B/Stock. We could go so far as to speculate that the parts he started to use were the very same ones removed from his car in the first place.

***Jim had taken a special interest in this car while it was in the Royal paint shop. A second car followed, a green one, as well as a third red car.

The "green car":


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__________________
'63 LeMans Convertible
'63 Grand Prix
'65 GTO - original, unrestored, Dad was original owner, 5000 original mile Royal Pontiac factory racer
'74 Chevelle - original owner, 9.85 @ 136 mph besthttp://www.superchevy.com/features/s...hevy-chevelle/
My Pontiac Story: http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/...d.php?t=560524
"Intro from an old Assembly Plant Guy":http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...d.php?t=342926

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Old 05-08-2008, 08:25 AM
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How we lost our first Pontiac:

So, in relatively short order, Dad had gone from "John Q Public Ford racer" to a hotshot Pontiac racer. Although he started out as just another Royal customer, his ability to be down there during the day (since he worked second shift), as well as his budding friendship with Dick Jesse, could be used to their mutual advantage. He was able to hang out, attend press events and test sessions, and help them get some work done. By now the Bobcat package was starting to gel, and Dad was able to bring tripowers home five or six at a time - "Bobcat" them by rejetting, etc - and then bring the completed units back for installation on customer vehicles by Frank Rediker or Charlie Brumfield. Later, the same technique would be used in converting wide ratio 4 speeds into close ratio 4 speeds - again, five or six at a time. ( I should mention that if a particular unit came together especially well, either a tripower or a 4 speed, it might not have made it all the way back to Royal).


I don't know if it was conscious or not but eventually a plan evolved. Quite clever, actually; Dad would run the "sleeper" car: a factory car, with full sponsorship and technical support, but no visible indication to the casual observer other than a set of Royal license plate frames.* Ultimately Dad would end up with a Shell credit card to pay for all his fuel and an open account for any race car parts. A call down to Royal would result in parts being shipped to the Flint bus station via Greyhound, where he could pick them up (many of the parts had red paint on them, indicating "scrap"!). His familiarity with Royal grew and the car was quite successful: never defeated in actual B/S competition and even holding the NHRA B/S record at 13.42 until Art Noey ("Shaker Engineering") came along and bombed the record out of reach.*

However, this familiarity would also lead to the car's demise.



*There was one ocassion where, in an effort to be like everybody else, Dad had some decals made up of his name and had them applied to the side windows. Jesse caught wind of it and had him pull them off. They very much did not want anyone to know who Dad was at the time...

**I emphasize the car's success specifically in B/Stock....but there were some off days. "Farmer" Dismuke was the tech director for NHRA and was known for being pretty tough. He had a ring that he wore and on the underside of the ring was a magnet - specifically for finding fiberglass or aluminum where it wasn't supposed to be. As Dad was in tech for B/Stock Farmer laid his hand on one of those aluminum fenders and said conclusively "B/FX". Instantly agitated, Dad said "I can't run B/FX; this car is a national record holder in B/Stock". Farmer said "I don't care if you are Santa Claus, you're not running that car in B/Stock unless you can show me 49 more just like it!". Dad knew he couldn't be competetive in B/FX, and didn't want to ballast up to C/FX (because Doug Nash was running his Bronco in that class) so he, along with the boys from Royal, decided to park the car for the day. For a discussion on how the rest of the day went see this attached thread: http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/...d.php?t=549309

__________________
'63 LeMans Convertible
'63 Grand Prix
'65 GTO - original, unrestored, Dad was original owner, 5000 original mile Royal Pontiac factory racer
'74 Chevelle - original owner, 9.85 @ 136 mph besthttp://www.superchevy.com/features/s...hevy-chevelle/
My Pontiac Story: http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/...d.php?t=560524
"Intro from an old Assembly Plant Guy":http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...d.php?t=342926

Last edited by Keith Seymore; 01-05-2021 at 11:45 AM. Reason: Correcting broken link
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Old 05-08-2008, 08:26 AM
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How we lost our first Pontiac (Part II):

As I mentioned, Dad was becoming more and more familiar with the operations at Royal. Because of this arrangement, he could leave the car at the dealership for upgrades and/or regular maintenance.*

However, being a relatively young man (he was in his mid 20's by now) he was not fully aware of how the car was titled and registered. Dad had the registration, so that he could plate the car and drive it on the street; however, Royal held the title with a "Manufacturer's Lien". The significance of this arrangement would not become apparent until later...

Wangers had been racing his car on the east coast and, in the days of tow bars and flat towing, had a somewhat minor incident on the way back from an event. Minor, but still enough damage that a repair would need to be made and it was determined that the aluminum front end components would need to be replaced. Normally, an extra set of material would be kept in the warehouse for just such an emergency but, for some reason when they went to retrieve this extra material it wasn't there**.

So - now we have a problem. The main Royal showpiece is banged up and there are no replacement parts. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective), they noticed Dad's car sitting, unattended. After checking and finding that Royal held the title, and knowing how expendable these factory/dealership cars were back in the day, it was an easy jump in logic to remove the front clip from Dad's car, make the necessary repairs to Jim's car and scrap the remains of Dad's.

Naturally, when Dad came bopping in off the street later that day or the next, and then comprehended what had happened, he was frantic. Recall that he had paid cash, with his own money, for the purchase of that car. Being a middle class hourly worker, with a new family and starter home, he didn't have that kind of money to just throw away. He ran into Jesse's office and demanded that something be done: either replace his cash, or get him another car, or something!

Jesse, ever the consummate car salesman, calmly and simply said "Van, I want you to settle down. You are all set - your new GTO is here".



*This also left him open for their unique sense of humor. Jim Wangers had ordered an aluminum third member for his car and was getting quite antsy for its arrival. When it did (finally) show up the mechanics saw it sitting on the floor strapped to a pallet; they noted Dad's car sitting a few bays down and somebody thought it would be hilariously funny to install the carrier in Dad's car and not tell anybody. Dad never noticed until some time later, when he was under the car doing something else. Jim continued to get more and more agitated and finally gave up looking for his aluminum part. I don't think he knows what happened to it to this day. He probably would not find it hilariously funny.

**Some of you are probably familiar with the Johnny Mauro Pikes Peak racecar (now in the Floyd Garrett Musclecar collection). This was a car that was built after the January of 1963 racing ban; it was processed with a steel front clip but was retrofit with aluminum components after the fact. We did not learn of this vehicle until the late 1980's but when we did some things started to make sense. We speculate that this was the extra set of aluminum from the warehouse, sent out to build this vehicle, and why the "extra set" was not present when needed for repairs.



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__________________
'63 LeMans Convertible
'63 Grand Prix
'65 GTO - original, unrestored, Dad was original owner, 5000 original mile Royal Pontiac factory racer
'74 Chevelle - original owner, 9.85 @ 136 mph besthttp://www.superchevy.com/features/s...hevy-chevelle/
My Pontiac Story: http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/...d.php?t=560524
"Intro from an old Assembly Plant Guy":http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...d.php?t=342926

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Old 05-08-2008, 08:28 AM
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How we got our Second Pontiac

(also known as)

How we got our First GTO

Ok, so its the fall of 1963 and Dad is now the proud owner of a brand new 1964 GTO.

Well....I use the term "proud" loosely. This car had the worst paint job of any production vehicle that he had ever seen in his life. It had little flecks of dirt in it and globs of some kind of black stuff that wouldn't wash off. It also had poor adhesion, and if tape was applied the paint would come right off when you attempted to remove the tape.

Although grateful to not be stuck with a total loss, Dad went back to see Dick Jesse to complain. "Dick" he said "I'd be embarrased to drive this car; it needs a total repaint".

Dick wasn't sure the factory would cover a totally new paint job but said he would make some calls. He contacted the factory rep, Carl Klessick*, and Carl agreed to paint only the problem areas. Dad was to take a small piece of masking tape and stick it over any spots needing repair.

Dad did as he was told and drove the car over to Carl's office. Carl came down to the street, only to find this '64 GTO COMPLETELY (!) covered with masking tape. I think Dad said he used a whole roll to cover the car. Carl approved a total repaint - at the factory and at their expense - right then and there.

After the car was painted it was taken back to Royal and one of the new car prep guys put a real nice "Blue Coral" wax job on it. When all was said and done it was a very respectible looking automobile.

After doing his own "Royal Bobcat supertune" job on the car (similar to post #61 of this thread: "The Gasket Story") Dad was having good success with this car as well. It was also never defeated in B/S class competition and, legend has it, the first GTO here locally to run in the twelves**.




*I'm sorry, I can't remember the last name for sure and couldn't find it in my notes.

** Royal had rented Detroit Dragway for a test session so Dad went along just for fun. He had continued to refine the package and went out and made what felt like a pretty good pass. When he got to the ticket booth they didn't have a time slip to give him. Shaking it off, he decided to make another pass. He did and it also felt like a pretty good run. No slip. He decided to make a third pass and at it's conclusion they told him to report to the control tower.

He walked up the stairs and into the office, to find the track owner Gil Kohn scowling at the desk. "Seymore, nobody likes a smart a$$" he said, and showed Dad the time slips: 12.97, 12.95 and 12.93. Apparently they were concerned the timing equipment wasn't working properly and wanted to check it out before giving Dad the data.
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__________________
'63 LeMans Convertible
'63 Grand Prix
'65 GTO - original, unrestored, Dad was original owner, 5000 original mile Royal Pontiac factory racer
'74 Chevelle - original owner, 9.85 @ 136 mph besthttp://www.superchevy.com/features/s...hevy-chevelle/
My Pontiac Story: http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/...d.php?t=560524
"Intro from an old Assembly Plant Guy":http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...d.php?t=342926

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Old 05-08-2008, 08:29 AM
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How we lost our Second Pontiac:

When we left off we had a record setting B/S '64 GTO, and things couldn't be going better. Class wins coming every weekend, trophies stacked up like cord wood. In fact, Dad made a deal with the local track owners; he would not take a trophy or cash for a win if they would let him race for free the next weekend. They gladly accepted.

Too soon it was late summer/early fall, and late summer in Michigan means time for the Michigan State Fair. Royal was well known for having a display at local auto shows, fairs, etc. and they decided they would like to have a car on display at the Fairground. Taking inventory of the fleet, after assessing which vehicles were available locally and taking into consideration the appearance of the various cars, they decided they'd like to use Dad's car as the display vehicle. Naturally Dad was flattered and said ok.

Remember the arrangement with the title (ie, Dad had the registration, so that he could plate the car and drive it on the street; Royal held the title with a "Manufacturer's Lien")? That is about to become significant, once again....

While the car was on display a potential customer took notice. One of the salesmen, apparently not aware of Dad's arrangement with Royal and seeing that they had the title, assumed the car was available as a demonstrator and was able to close the deal. The car was sold and, after the show, immediately shipped to the new owner, back east somewhere.

Dad came down early the next week to pick his car up only to find (once again) it was gone. After a flash of deja vu, this time he was not only frantic but he was royally p.o'd. Not only did they sell the car, but sold it complete with all his hop up tricks, headers and tow bar brackets still installed and slicks (mounted on wheels) still in trunk! He was furious and scared, at the same time.

Once again he found Dick Jesse: "Dick, that was MY CAR! I need some money, or another car...or SOMETHING!"

Dick, ever the consumate car salesman, calmly replied: "Van, I want you to settle down. Your new '65 is here."

Our '64 GTO on display at the State Fair:



For a discussion on finding and interpreting this photo, see thread: http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/...d.php?t=549092

__________________
'63 LeMans Convertible
'63 Grand Prix
'65 GTO - original, unrestored, Dad was original owner, 5000 original mile Royal Pontiac factory racer
'74 Chevelle - original owner, 9.85 @ 136 mph besthttp://www.superchevy.com/features/s...hevy-chevelle/
My Pontiac Story: http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/...d.php?t=560524
"Intro from an old Assembly Plant Guy":http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...d.php?t=342926

Last edited by Keith Seymore; 12-14-2020 at 05:41 PM. Reason: Correcting broken link
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Old 05-08-2008, 08:32 AM
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How we got our '65 GTO:

I have been building up to how we got the '65 GTO that we still have.

Now: back to the Fall of 1964 and Dad, once again, finds himself without a car and without compensation. Dick Jesse, as was his custom, had some tricks up his sleeve and was able to convince Dad that all was well. It would, once again, require a trip over to the Engineering Building.

They met up at the appointed time and made the short trip from Royal Oak to Pontiac; Clearance through security had been prearranged and they drove through the gate and around back. Staged behind the building, as if on display, were 5 white 1965 GTOs - stripped down jobs with no radios, undersized radiators, heater delete(?), red or blue vinyl interiors, tripower cars with manual transmissions, manual steering and manual brakes, steel wheels and dog dish hubcaps. They may have even had some improper trim, like Lemans trim or front grilles/headers. These cars were obviously built with one thing in mind, and that was to traverse a quarter mile as quickly as possible.

Now, here's the rub: somehow Dad got it in his mind that these cars were Engineering vehicles, built with thin gage die tryout material to take advantage of the weight savings. Someone had decided that, rather than scrapping this test material, it would be a good idea to build a complete car out of it.* He always maintained that Dick told him that outright; whether it was true, indicating that Dick had was more connected with the Factory than was previously thought, or whether it was a salesman's fabrication designed to sweeten the potential deal, we will probably never know.

Dick asked him: "So...which one would you like?".

Dad replied: "None of 'em...they look like taxi cabs!"

Dick: "So... what do you want?"

Dad: "I want a black one..."

Why Dad was so emboldened to turn down one of these special cars and ask for something else I'll never know. Dick wasn't sure there was enough material left to build one more car so off to the office area they went. A few phone calls were made and it was determined that there was enough material to build one more car. An order was placed** and Dad needed only to sit back and wait for the car to arrive.

===========================================


* Dad was also informed where each of the vehicles went:

One Dick kept for himself, altered the wheelbase and turned the car into the "Mr Unswitchable" funny car. He actually got in trouble for cutting this Factory car up and had to rely on his cunning and "good looks" to keep his job.



One was given to Packer Pontiac and driven by Howard Maseles. I have talked to Howard about this car.



One went to Knafel and was driven by Arlen Vanke:



One was shipped to California, where Cecil Yother terrorized the West Coast

One (probably the one Dad refused) was shipped back east somewhere, thought to be repainted and raced by Myrtle Motors (?).



** I did not know this until we did the HPP article with Jeff Koch but Dad did not specify the options on this (his) car. Apparently the order was created by a clerk in the front office; seeing that this was a Royal/Jesse vehicle he or she may have clicked the correct performance options but then also added some "showcar" options too: back up lights, door edge guards, AM w reverb (although the reverb was nonfunctional; it was packed with lead for ballast) and throw in floor mats. The car was also oddly optioned in that it did not include the tach or rally cluster - checking the build sheet shows option 504 was selected but the car was "built without 504", as though they were temporarily out of material. Besides the unusual reverb, the car was also delivered with the battery already installed in the trunk and the hood cut for use with a primitive, prototype ram air pan.

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__________________
'63 LeMans Convertible
'63 Grand Prix
'65 GTO - original, unrestored, Dad was original owner, 5000 original mile Royal Pontiac factory racer
'74 Chevelle - original owner, 9.85 @ 136 mph besthttp://www.superchevy.com/features/s...hevy-chevelle/
My Pontiac Story: http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/...d.php?t=560524
"Intro from an old Assembly Plant Guy":http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...d.php?t=342926

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Old 05-08-2008, 08:34 AM
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Picking up the '65

After a few days the call came. The build of the car had been expedited, to avoid being trapped on property due to an anticipated UAW strike, and was ready to be picked up.

There was only one complication. My mom was due any day with my little sister, Jennifer* and in fact Jenny was born on Thursday, September 10th of 1964. We went to the hospital on Thursday, but on Friday, instead of going back, we picked the car up and drove it home. Actual delivery date for the car: Friday, September 11th: a full 10 calendar days before the "official introduction" and documented delivery date of September 21st.**

No money was exchanged (he was still taking advantage of his $3100 purchase of the Catalina) nor was there any paperwork (ie, window sticker, build documentation) provided. The only documentation was a penciled note on the Owners Manual envelope: "No COD".



This time, though, he did get something very important, and something that would change the course of his luck: a "clear" title...







* Actually, my sister's name was supposed to be Elizabeth. Dad had already made the phone calls to relatives informing them that my sister had been born and was named Elizabeth. However, either due to the drugs or out of spite for my Dad not being there (or both), my mom stated her name was Jennifer when filling out the birth certificate and she has been Jennifer ever since.

** John V has pointed out to me that these dates to not line up with his published information on when the UAW strike (mentioned in the link) actually began. One explanation might be that there were actually "pockets" of local strike activity before the National Strike took hold (Pontiac being one area affected); another explanation could be that we went down to "look" at the car on Friday and actually drove it home early the next week. In either case, we were fooling around doing car stuff rather than going to see my mom and sister in the hospital. Mom is still (in a good natured way) "mad" about that....
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'63 LeMans Convertible
'63 Grand Prix
'65 GTO - original, unrestored, Dad was original owner, 5000 original mile Royal Pontiac factory racer
'74 Chevelle - original owner, 9.85 @ 136 mph besthttp://www.superchevy.com/features/s...hevy-chevelle/
My Pontiac Story: http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/...d.php?t=560524
"Intro from an old Assembly Plant Guy":http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...d.php?t=342926

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Old 05-08-2008, 08:34 AM
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Keith Seymore Keith Seymore is offline
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Race Career for the '65

I had mentioned we had very good success with both our '63 Cat and our '64 GTO, both being undefeated in NHRA class competition. You probably expect me to say the same thing about the '65, and I wish I could, but alas I cannot. Although we did very well*, by now there were some local players on the scene that had really stepped up their program and were causing us some problems: Art Noey, from Shaker Engineering, for one. We traded the record back and forth but Art was a significant thorn in our side.

The car was actually lighter than it needed to be for B/Stock. One technique for making the weight break was to roll through tech with the tow bar (and safety chains) still in place, toolbox and slicks in the trunk, fuel tank full of fuel and me standing on the scales! After passing tech, all those items would come flying off/out of the car in time for competition...**

* Dad used to "toy" with the locals a little bit. As his reputation grew, he could tell they were waiting for him to choose a class before they would enter (choosing a different class). He used to wait until the last minute, then write the class designation on the window and then watch his competition scramble to sign up for something else. Similar games were played through the week, as his buddies would, as discreetly as possible, ask where he thought he might run that weekend (so that they could better their chances by running at a different track).

The other thing he would do is never "tip his hand" or show what the car was fully capable of until it was absolutely necessary. During time runs he would make one pass, launching hard and coasting through the top end (to make sure the car was performing on the bottom half of the track). The next pass he would launch easy and then run hard on the top end. He would never win by any more than he needed to, and would only run hard when pressed to do so. Then, when he did make a good, full, hard pass he would often see his competition taking off the windshield wipers, pulling their floor mats out, etc in an effort to gain back some bit of performance!



** We did get caught "light" on one occasion. Dad made a pass and, before he retrieved the time slip, the tech official directed him across the scale.

"I don't want to go across the scale" dad said.

The tech official unrelentingly directed him back. "I really don't want to go across the scale" dad said.

"You have to - you just set a B/Stock record" the tech replied.

"You can keep your record, I'm not going across that scale!"

Well, he did, and it earned him a brief "vacation" from racing at that particular track.

------------------

We also had the opportunity to do some "tire testing" with this car. Back sometime between '65 and '67 we did some work for M&H and tried out a new style of slick called a "wrinklewall"...

We made about 6 passes and after we were done they let us keep the tires

So that next weekend we went to Ubly Dragway and ran those tires. Some of the locals saw us running (and the times we were running) and so they started airing down their traditional tires. They were wallowing all over the place and really it was kind of unsafe. It got so bad the track announcer finally got on the PA system and told everyone to put the air back in their tires or he would throw us all out...

__________________
'63 LeMans Convertible
'63 Grand Prix
'65 GTO - original, unrestored, Dad was original owner, 5000 original mile Royal Pontiac factory racer
'74 Chevelle - original owner, 9.85 @ 136 mph besthttp://www.superchevy.com/features/s...hevy-chevelle/
My Pontiac Story: http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/...d.php?t=560524
"Intro from an old Assembly Plant Guy":http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...d.php?t=342926

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Old 05-08-2008, 08:36 AM
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"The Gasket Story"

As I mentioned, our '65 GTO was built early in September of 1964. There were rumblings of a strike that year, so the build of our car, a factory "demonstrator" - if you will - was hastened so that it could be out in public before the strike hit and not be trapped on GM property. As a result, Dad and I drove down on a Friday and picked the car up from the Engineering Building, complete with three 7.75 whitewalls installed, one 7.75 redline and a 7.35 whitewall for a spare. A three speed was installed in the car and the intended four speed was loose in the trunk. As expected, the following Monday the UAW went out on strike.

Naturally, we had the GTO home for about a day before Dad started tearing into it, prepping it for race usage. Heads off to be cut .030", thinner head gaskets, shimming valve springs, recurving the distributor, etc. As he started putting the car back together he went to set the intake back on and (...as we now know...) the pattern had changed from '64 to '65. He didn't have any of the "new style" intake gaskets, so he called Superior Pontiac/Cadillac in Flint and asked them if they did. They said "sure, come on down" so he went in and (...guess what...) they didn't. They had the '64 style. He informed them of the change and started calling around to find gaskets. He called Royal; same result - "yeah, we got 'em" (...they didn't...). Jesse had him call the manufacturer and he nearly had a deal finalized, saying they could send him a couple until they realized he was a private individual rather than in some "official" capacity. Dad was getting ready to get some gasket material and make his own when Jesse had a bright idea: they could get some out of the Pontiac motor plant. He had heard Jim Wangers was heading over there to do some kind of marketing presentation and, since the plant was on strike, Dad should be able to get in there and get what he needed. The deal was struck and the time set. Dad was to wear his best suit and was going to get into the plant with a "Press" pass.

Dad was supposed to meet Jim at his office one morning shortly thereafter. After sitting in the waiting room for quite awhile Jim emerged from his office; they hopped into Jim's big yellow 2+2 "School Bus" and after a quick stop for an early lunch they made it over to the entrance at the Pontiac facility. The place was awash with activity, as there are all these UAW employees out picketing in front of the plant. As they drive through the gate, Jim saw someone he knew so he stopped the car to shoot the bull with this guy. That was fine until Dad saw someone HE knew! Pretty incriminating for him to be going into a plant, while it was on strike, him in a suit, and a UAW diemaker at that! He said "Jim, get me outta here!" pulled his suitcoat up over his head and they zipped through the gate without any further incident.

Once inside, Jim took his portfolio and papers and went up to the front offices and Dad headed out to the floor. Imagine an empty plant during shutdown: lights are off, everything is quiet, just a few individuals in sitting around playing cards or table tennis in the break areas. Finally, a guy showed up on a three wheeled scooter and says "Whattya need, Slim?". Dad said "I'm the guy that needs the gaskets". So he hopped on the scooter and they wind their way back into the bowels of the plant. They pull up to a work area and, sure enough, here are baskets and baskets (...and baskets...) of gaskets. The guy hands Dad a stack about two feet high and says "How many do you need?". Dad grabbed enough to reassemble his motor plus a few extras and they got out of there. Needless to say, for a few weeks after that the local guys were calling us to see if we had intake gaskets so they could put their cars back together.

As far as our car, we had it back together shortly thereafter. By the time of the "official" introduction - "Pontiac Day" at Detroit Dragway on Sunday, September 27 - we were already tuned up and hit the ground running, making some low 12.90 passes in B/S trim.

__________________
'63 LeMans Convertible
'63 Grand Prix
'65 GTO - original, unrestored, Dad was original owner, 5000 original mile Royal Pontiac factory racer
'74 Chevelle - original owner, 9.85 @ 136 mph besthttp://www.superchevy.com/features/s...hevy-chevelle/
My Pontiac Story: http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/...d.php?t=560524
"Intro from an old Assembly Plant Guy":http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...d.php?t=342926

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Old 05-08-2008, 08:38 AM
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The Beginning of the End (and the End)

For 1966, Dad was given an OHC 6 cylinder Sprint to race. With some modifications he was able to get this car to run in the 12's. After spending all season developing the car and getting it to run properly, it was returned to Royal and sold as a factory demonstrator.

He didn't prefer the new '66 GTOs to his existing '65 and elected to keep his car (it probably didn't hurt that he kept the car at home now, and did not bring it down when looking at the '66s. Having a clear title in his possession was helpful, too).

For the 1967 season he elected to run our car, but in the B/Modified Production class. This class was a little less restrictive than the stock classes, and allowed him to run the newer tripower, better heads and a larger slick. It was in this configuration that the car ran it's best ever ET of 12.23 at 118 mph.*



For 1968, we had a new GTO with a few unique features: it was a 400 2 bbl (Ram Air), auto trans column shift, Rally ones with redlines. The most interesting feature, though, was the car was silver with black up around the back window. It was a test car for an appearance package, and they were trying to determine if the scheme should be done with stickers (on the line or at the dealer) or with paint.



By now the "bloom was off the rose" with Royal. Either it was the drain of being told where to race, when to race, how to race (and, in some cases, who would win) or it was the dynamics of trying to work with a team, but Dad was pretty much done. He left in late 1968/early 1969, running our car independently until it was unceremoniously parked in 1974.



Royal would be sold a few years later and the "Glory Days", for us, were done. Just like the Pony Express, which captures the imagination of Americans even though it existed for 10 short years, Royal Pontiac would stir the minds of young men both then and for years to come.



* It was also in this configuration that the car was parked and sat untouched until the mid 1990s. Other than replacing the 1.65 rocker arms with 1.50 arms, and reshimming the valve spring shims, the car is currently, today, sporting these same modifications and is fully functional.

__________________
'63 LeMans Convertible
'63 Grand Prix
'65 GTO - original, unrestored, Dad was original owner, 5000 original mile Royal Pontiac factory racer
'74 Chevelle - original owner, 9.85 @ 136 mph besthttp://www.superchevy.com/features/s...hevy-chevelle/
My Pontiac Story: http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/...d.php?t=560524
"Intro from an old Assembly Plant Guy":http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...d.php?t=342926

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Old 05-08-2008, 08:53 AM
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Not Really the End

We didn't know it at the time but the car would be parked for nearly 25 years.

By the fall of 1974, Dad would be diagnosed with Rhuematoid Arthritis, which he would struggle with for the rest of his life. It was severe enough to be nearly disabling - to a lesser man - but managed to slow Dad down. He was not able to drive the GTO since he could not push the clutch in without significant pain.

I was distracted with racing my Chevelle, which I am still running today. I recall in the mid 80's, for a special outing, we borrowed a set of slicks and I stroked the car to an easy 12.40 pass. The car sat again after that brief exercise.

Finally, in the late 1990's, I was able to convince Dad to let the car sit at my house, more secure in one of the back barns rather than in the front garage at his house. While the car was in my possession I was able to secretly reinstall the redline tires and rally I wheels, as well as do some minor engine modifications to get it running again (replaced the aluminum valve spring retainers, reshimmed the valve springs and rebuilt the carbs). I was able to surprise him for his birthday with the correct appearing and nicely running car.


__________________
'63 LeMans Convertible
'63 Grand Prix
'65 GTO - original, unrestored, Dad was original owner, 5000 original mile Royal Pontiac factory racer
'74 Chevelle - original owner, 9.85 @ 136 mph besthttp://www.superchevy.com/features/s...hevy-chevelle/
My Pontiac Story: http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/...d.php?t=560524
"Intro from an old Assembly Plant Guy":http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...d.php?t=342926

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Old 05-08-2008, 09:10 AM
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The Beginning of a New Era

By the late 90's and early 00's we were getting significant pressure from our family and our Pontiac friends to begin doing more with the car, perhaps participating in local shows and parades. Stubborn as he was, Dad finally acquiesced and our big "coming out" was to be the Widetracker's Dustoff show in May of 2003.*

We brought the car to the show as we normally would, arriving without fanfare at about 6:30 am to get set up. As is my custom I taped a small, 8.5x11 sheet of paper to the window describing some of the history and details as we have already discussed.

What would be different this time is that freelance writer Jeff Koch was on the property. He took notice of the writeup and, after a brief interview with Dad, he was (naturally) smitten. He wanted to do a feature article on the car.

We said yes. The plan was for us to wait until after the show: he would be photographing two other special Pontiacs and would do ours last, after the lighting was better. We waited until about 8:30 pm for his return (remember, we had been there since 6:30 am) and finally....finally got our photo shoot done.



*It was kind of funny because, unbeknownst to Dad, the Widetrackers had planned to have the car on display as one of the "feature" vehicles, on the midway for some special recognition. My son James and I had been cleaning and planning for the event for weeks in advance. Finally, the day before the show, Dad said "ya know, nobody has said anything else about bringing the GTO. I think we should stay home". As calmly as possible I relayed that I had, in fact, been in contact with the Widetrackers and that we couldn't bounce around on this decision; that James and I had been working hard to get ready and that we needed to go. He agreed and the rest, as they say, is history.

__________________
'63 LeMans Convertible
'63 Grand Prix
'65 GTO - original, unrestored, Dad was original owner, 5000 original mile Royal Pontiac factory racer
'74 Chevelle - original owner, 9.85 @ 136 mph besthttp://www.superchevy.com/features/s...hevy-chevelle/
My Pontiac Story: http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/...d.php?t=560524
"Intro from an old Assembly Plant Guy":http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...d.php?t=342926

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Old 05-08-2008, 09:22 AM
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It took roughly nine months of corresponding with Jeff (reviewing rough drafts, submitting additional data, sending vintage photos, etc) but finally the article was done and was to hit the stands. Not just one part, as anticipated, but two parts minimum, and additionally readers were encouraged to write as well.

The magazines came out in February 2004, March 2004 and commentary in May 2004.*




One other fun thing that happened at that time: Jeff was also working for Johnny Lightning at the time. They were planning on bringing out a new model of 1965 GTO and asked if he could use the artwork of our photoshoot on the packaging. Naturally we said yes and received a couple boxes of these as a thank you.




Since that time the car has also been mentioned in Charlie Morris' book "Factory Lightweights", and also will be included in an upcoming book about the Supercar dealerships of the 60's by reknown photographer David Newhardt.







* HPP was also kind enough to run a short obituary in May of 2006, after Dad's passing.

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'63 LeMans Convertible
'63 Grand Prix
'65 GTO - original, unrestored, Dad was original owner, 5000 original mile Royal Pontiac factory racer
'74 Chevelle - original owner, 9.85 @ 136 mph besthttp://www.superchevy.com/features/s...hevy-chevelle/
My Pontiac Story: http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/...d.php?t=560524
"Intro from an old Assembly Plant Guy":http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...d.php?t=342926

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Old 05-08-2008, 09:47 AM
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Plans for 2008

Since Dad's passing in November of 2005 the Widetrackers have remembered his name by awarding the "Best of Show" award at the annual May Dustoff.







Our family was on hand at that first show in 2006 and we will, once again, be there to present the award this year as well.





For more info about the Widetrackers Chapter of the POCI and the annual Dustoff, see: http://widetrackers.com/


Also for this year we have been asked to bring the GTO to the "Eyes on Design" Concours Event held at the Edsel Ford Estate. One of the special displays at the event will be a recognition of GM's 100 year anniversary: significant GM vehicles are to be highlighted and we were asked to represent the Pontiac GTO.


For both this year and in the future, my plans are to maintain this car in it's current state: both by not allowing its condition to degrade any further and by keeping it in it's 1967 season B/MP trim. I have all the parts to return the engine to completely stock (intake manifold and carbs, exhaust manifolds and cylinder heads) but prefer to keep it in it's current set up in deference to my Dad's legacy and as a steward of "his" car (not my own).

To me, it will always be "Van Seymore's '65 GTO".
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__________________
'63 LeMans Convertible
'63 Grand Prix
'65 GTO - original, unrestored, Dad was original owner, 5000 original mile Royal Pontiac factory racer
'74 Chevelle - original owner, 9.85 @ 136 mph besthttp://www.superchevy.com/features/s...hevy-chevelle/
My Pontiac Story: http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/...d.php?t=560524
"Intro from an old Assembly Plant Guy":http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...d.php?t=342926

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Old 05-08-2008, 10:06 AM
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Super read Keith! Thanks for taking the time to write this (and previous stories) down, that must have taken quite a bit of effort. Like my neighbor who spent 1.5 years as a POW in a WWII German camp, hearing these pieces of history are a fascinating treat and it is getting rarer and rarer to hear first hand accounts.

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Old 05-08-2008, 10:13 AM
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Keith - Wow?! Thanks for sharing your story. Very well written and even more... a true testimony of Fathers and Sons and the good times and memories that families experience.


.

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Old 05-08-2008, 10:40 AM
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Keith Seymore Keith Seymore is offline
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Thanks.

Apparently it took you guys a lot less time to read it than it did for me to write it!



Thanks again,

K

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'63 LeMans Convertible
'63 Grand Prix
'65 GTO - original, unrestored, Dad was original owner, 5000 original mile Royal Pontiac factory racer
'74 Chevelle - original owner, 9.85 @ 136 mph besthttp://www.superchevy.com/features/s...hevy-chevelle/
My Pontiac Story: http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/...d.php?t=560524
"Intro from an old Assembly Plant Guy":http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...d.php?t=342926

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Old 05-08-2008, 11:02 AM
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An inspiration to all us 65 GTO owners and lovers!

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LEAD, FOLLOW, OR GET THE HE!! OUT OF THE WAY!!!

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