It has been my experience that in the recent past, the Pontiac hobby breaks down into four major groups and just about any hobbyist can be pigeonholed into one, for argument's sake. You have the Gold-standard restored crowd with large trailers, large trophies and, often, large bank accounts, who are excited by the recreation of the factory correct Pontiac. The street-restored enthusiasts are on a much more limited budget. They strive for the look of a pristine Pontiac but enjoy the driving most. Then there are the modification mavens who make every enhancement with an eye toward a performance improvement, be it acceleration, handling or braking. And finally you have the drag racers who, more times than not, would sell a family member on the open market to cut his Pontiac's ET by a tenth.
Doug Rudisuhle doesn't conveniently fit into any of these traditional Pontiac groups. Doug is into the International Show Car Association scene and Pontiacs, save Doug's and those of a few friends, rarely travel in this circle. These hobbyists live for the art of the modifications--if there is a way to smooth it and make it shinier an ISCA guy will find it. Doug's 1967 GTO is testament to his creativity. Moreover, it is a rolling sculpture that is ever-changing with the trends and technology exhibited on the ISCA circuit.
However, don't think for a minute that this '67 is an all-show/no-go proposition. On the contrary, in the area of performance, Doug once again deftly thwarts my efforts to categorize this GTO and its owner. Whereas many ISCA creations live the luxurious life of a trailer queen, this one is driven on regular basis on the streets of Montgomery, Ilinois and up to 1,100 miles per year to events in the summer months. Then, like Jekyl to the raucous street car's Hyde, the GTO will shed its tarmac tearing image, don its show clothes and go win yet another car show to the tune of 55 First Place awards and 30 Best of Show Awards since the '67 first made the rounds. It would seem that Doug represents a movement that is just now coming into vogue and that trend is to build highly modified show cars to both compete on the circuit and then cruise on the off-weekends. But let's go back to the beginning.
All these accolades may cause you to think that this GTO has always led a charmed life. Hardly. Back in 1983, the GTO was purchased for Doug's son Jeff because it was his favorite car. A cash deal for $1,800 got the Rudisuhles one Linden Green 1967 GTO with a 400 engine, a 4-speed trans and an open rear. Doug's son easily looked past the cracked windshield, the dented quarter panels and the kicked-in taillight. It was his first car and his cup of optimism runneth over. Since Jeff was only 14 at the time of purchase, Doug and Sharon, the proud parents, had time to make a few changes to the GTO to make it both safer and more reliable when the young Rudisuhle reached driving age.
The engine was freshened up and a Tri-Power was added. The trans was swapped for a Turbo-400 with a His and Hers shifter and the open rear gave way to a 3.55 Safe-T-Track. Soon after Jeff took the wheel, dad put dual quads on the 400 and it ran 13.5 at 99.77 all day long at the strip.
As is true with most adolescent endeavors, however, the thrill subsequently wore off and Jeff decided that he would prefer a new Firebird as a cruiser. Needing cash for a down payment, he planned to sell the GTO. Doug didn't want to see the vintage Pontiac leave the family, so he offered to buy it. Instead Jeff presented the keys to dad free of charge on his birthday and Doug in turn cosigned a loan for Jeff's new Bird.
The elder Rudisuhle recalls, "The minute I got the Goat I began to tear it apart. My intent was to build a nice driver but as I got more into it, I decided to build a full-on show car that I could drive. I built the GTO in my mind first and then applied the image to the car. When it was finished I was even more happy than I had expected to be."
Today, the GTO is still very much a part of the Rudisuhle family and remains a full-fledged ISCA showstopper. The application of the1992 Teal finish, which consists of PPG Deltron basecoat/clearcoat GM code 37, was the responsibility of Auto Paint Technique in Aurora, Ill. The company applied five basecoats (with wet sanding between each) and four clearcoats with 800 grit wet sanding after each of the first two and 1200-1500 grit wet sanding after each of the final two. Of course the shaved door handles and the custom hood scoop, which Doug had fabricated by raising a stock GTO hood scoop and surrounding it with steel, can't be missed. But the welded and filled body seams and the absence of all body moldings and emblems are more subtle modifications to the classic A-body shell. The GTO crest floating in the rear quarter panel's paint scheme is another custom touch that was tastefully done.
Medium gray upholstery (which mimics the stock pattern) with teal piping to tie the color scheme of the body into the interior fills the cabin and the carpet is custom made. The most noticeable feature is the tigers on the doors, head rests and the rear seat, which were airbrushed when the upholstery was done by Biel's Auto Upholstery in Chicago. Once again melding the stock surroundings with a custom touch, the dash panel has been fitted with a brace of Auto Meter gauges and a modern AM/FM cassette deck surrounded in nearly stock-looking woodgrain with the dash pad covered to match the upholstery. Under the dash is a custom cover to finish the area and the fuel pump and starter button are hidden as is the actuator for the door latch solenoids. A three-spoke wheel with a leather cover matches the seats, the shifter is the same His and Hers that was installed years before and the vacuum gauge, though now painted on the outside instead of chromed, is a factory piece. Hand made are the headliner and the sail panels; a billet rearview mirror is glued to the windshield; and the dome light was pirated from an '88 Olds Delta because its second function is to hold the sun visors in place. Seat belts began life in a 1988 Caddy.
What you can't see in the photos is just as important on this machine as what you can, "The frame has had all of its welds ground and was filled to smooth it before I applied the machine gray paint and clearcoat to accentuate the body color," Rudisuhle related. While the front suspension remains mostly stock with HD coils and gas shocks, the rear has been swapped for a 3.90 posi unit out of a '69 Chevelle, which is held in place by Lakewood ladder bars and controlled by coil springs with airbags and coil-over shocks. Steering is handled by a 1965 GTO manual box and braking chores are left to Pontiac front discs on 1970 GP spindles and Wilwood rear discs, both of which are actuated without power assist. An adjustable proportioning valve ensures proper fore/aft distribution; braided lines make for a firm pedal; and an electric solenoid-powered rear brake cutoff acts as a Line-Loc should a trip down the strip become necessary. The owner can take credit for all of the chassis work. Shine is provided by Billet aluminum wheels, which are sized 15x7 front and 15x8 rear with 235/70-R15 Kelly Springfield tires fore and 275/60-R15 tires of the same make aft.
Like we said before, don't be too quick to dismiss this 1967 GTO as a pretty face with little substance because under the hood rests a 1970 455 engine that was built by Performance Motorsport of Sandwich, Ill. Combining a vintage hot rodder look with modern ISCA attributes, Doug's engine features the same machine gray paint on the block and heads and plenty of attention grabbing polished parts on the outside. On the inside the 1970 455 block was over bored and fitted with Speed-Pro flattop pistons on 62 421 rods, which take direction from the stock iron crank which was cut .010/.010. A Ram Air IV oil pump and pickup keep the juices flowing to the Clevite bearings from a stock pan, which has been chromed.
Bolted to this stout bottom end is a set of ported #48 heads that have further benefited from a 3-angle valve job and a set of 2.11/1.77 Speed-Pro valves, which are surrounded by fresh valve springs. The valvetrain retains its stock stamped 1.50:1 ratio rockers and factory pushrods. With the small combustion chambers, the over bored 455 cylinder volume and flat-top pistons, the compression ratio checks in at a no-fun on-pump-gas 11.5:1 necessitating the use of 100 octane race fuel. Putting all of that compression to good use is a Crower flat tappet 311* duration, .522 lift cam. Of course plenty of fuel will be needed to feed this combination. While a big 4-barrel will do the job, a pair of quads looks better, so in went twin Edelbrock 500 cfm carbs on a vintage Offy dual-quad intake manifold, which are fed by a Mallory electric pump and fuel regulator.
Fire is provided by an MSD Pro Billet distributor with timing set to 36* total at 3500 rpm. An MSD 6A box supplies multiple sparks and a Blaster II coil generates the power while teal Taylor wires feed it to Split Fire plugs.
What good is all of this power if you can't get the spent combustion remains removed in short order? To facilitate the process, a set of Hooker Super Comp headers followed by race ready cutouts, an H-pipe (all of which are ceramic coated) and Flowmaster 2-chamber mufflers comes to the rescue.
Multiplying the engine torque to feed it to the Turbo-400 trans is a Dynamic 10-inch 3500 rpm stall converter. The trans was built by TRS Trans Repair in Orland Park, Ill. Besides stuffing in some hi-po guts, the case was powdercoated and an auxiliary inline oil filter was added as was a chrome pan, braided stainless steel lines and a High Tech Racing cooler.
All told, Doug has thousands of hours and over $30,000 invested in his '67 GTO. But it's bought him and his family 18 years of enjoyment on the road and countless show wins. And though he and his Pontiac don't easily fit in to a traditional category of Pontiac owner, both are blazing a new trail for others in the showcar world to follow. And we feel that Doug's creation and his attitude toward the hobby are certainly deserving of a place in High Performance Pontiac magazine.