Would you believe that to buy a fully restored Pontiac from the 1960s can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 and up, depending upon rarity? Wouldn't it be cool if you had one sitting around the garage or the backyard that could use some fixing up? It would be even cooler if you had the talent to actually bring one back to life, to restore a vintage Pontiac.
Well, it's happening. Students at Dauphin County Technical School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania will take a 1967 GTO that looks like junkyard bait and turn it into a machine that appears to belong in a showroom.
The Carlisle Automotive Classrooms Foundation (CACF), a nonprofit organization launched in 2001 by Carlisle Productions of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, is overseeing the project that seeks to provide high school students the opportunity to get hands-on experience restoring classic and collectible vehicles. This year's project car, a 1967 Pontiac GTO, packs a 400-cubic-inch HO engine with a four-speed transmission and high-performance options. The Pontiac is in desperate need of attention, which the six students are more than willing to give.
Ames Performance of Marlborough, New Hampshire will supply all the parts needed for the restoration at no cost to the school. Steve Ames, owner of Ames Performance, is a member of the Automotive Restoration Market Organization that brings youth into the automotive market with its program "Take a Kid to a Car Show."
"We had a chance here to involve kids in restoring a classic car," Ames said. "It's an extension of the ARMO program, and I'm dedicated to it." As for the cost he'll be absorbing, Ames said, "It's worth it to get these kids involved." Ames Performance opened in 1976 and has attended events at Carlisle since Fall Carlisle '76. It is now the largest Pontiac supplier in the nation. Another supporter is Denny Knaub's UCF Machine Shop of Carlisle, which will prepare the car's drivetrain.
The six students from Dauphin County Technical School are Scott Dodge, Andrew Sprucebank, Nicholas Fachler, Tom Cleary, Jeremy Weyant and Kelsey Thomas. Their instructor is Joe Macchioni, who also owns an auto body shop in Grantville, Pennsylvania.
The students said one of the most challenging aspects of the restoration will be keeping everything labeled and organized. "We have to keep all the nuts and bolts in their right place," junior Jeremy Weyent explained. "We have to keep the parts labeled and the labels correct," confirmed sophomore Kelsey Thomas, who began working on cars with her father and uncle when she was younger. They agree that the hardest labor will involve fixing the rear quarter panels and front and rear glass areas and removing the rust. "It looks kind of tricky," said Scott Dodge, sophomore, eyeing the back window.
However, the six are up to the challenge. Sophomore Tom Cleary has worked on five different autos in school. "We get to deal with cars you normally don't work on," he said. Nicholas Fachler, also a sophomore, said he's thrilled about the restoration as well because it's hands-on. He took the class to learn how to work on his own vehicles. Andrew Spucebank, a sophomore, said he really enjoys auto tech class. "I want to restore old cars," he said. "That's why I joined [the program] and that's what I'm doing with this." "This is a great opportunity," Dodge agreed.
"It will be a nice project," auto tech teacher Joe Macchioni said. "We plan to keep it original. We'll take lots of pictures and do research. These six [students] will be working every day in the shop until it's done." Ames will acquire all of the original documentation and verification from Pontiac Historic Services, so that the students will be able to keep the restoration correct. Ames has no doubt they will do a good job, he said. "Hopefully other schools will see our example and do the same with classic cars."
Several of the youths dream of one day owning an auto body shop and doing restoration and custom work. This project should help them achieve that goal.
The GTO will be on display at 2003's Spring Carlisle (April 23-27) and Carlisle All-GM Nationals (June 13-15), and the projected completion date and sale of the GTO is Fall Carlisle (Oct. 1-5). Money from the sale will go directly into the Carlisle Automotive Classrooms Foundation so that others may benefit from hands on car restoration. The foundation will also donate some of the proceeds to Dauphin County Tech, in the form of new equipment for the school's auto shop.
Carlisle Events and Ames Performance plan to keep track of progress on their web sites, www.carsatcarlisle.com and www.amesperformance.com. Visit, to see how the work is coming along and to become better acquainted with the students.
Editor's Note: HPP will cover the restoration of the GTO not as tech stories but as features highlighting the efforts of the students. The purpose of this project is to get the younger generation interested in the restoration and preservation of vintage automobiles, so that's how I intend to cover it. Look for more on the 1967 GTO in future issues, not every month, but as the project progresses.--Ed.
Steve Ames of Ames Performance,...
Steve Ames of Ames Performance, Carlisle Events co-owners Bill Miller and Chip Miller, Kelsey Thomas, Andrew Sprucebank, Scott Dodge, shop teacher Joe Macchioni, Jeremy Weyant, Tom Cleary, and Nicholas Fachler pose with the '67 GTO project.
Steve Ames, Tom Cleary, Joe...
Steve Ames, Tom Cleary, Joe Macchioni, Jeremy Weyant, Kelsey Thomas, Andrew Sprucebank, Nicholas Fachler, and Scott Dodge take a look under the hood.
Mike DeFord, Marketing and...
Mike DeFord, Marketing and Production Manager for Carlisle Events, drives the GTO onto the fairgrounds.
Here's the original 400 HO...
Here's the original 400 HO engine.
A new tail panel will be ...
A new tail panel will be installed.
|A Wild Ride Through the Numbers--Analyzing our 1967 GTO Project Car's Billing History |
Our students have only begun to turn wrenches and already everyone involved is on a wild ride. No one really knew how the GTO left the Baltimore assembly plant because during its life it had been vandalized and the original bucket seats, steering wheel, radio and console had been stolen.
The gang at Ames Performance had promised the students a fully decoded billing history from Pontiac Historic Services as soon as possible. Upon receipt of the billing history, everyone was excited to find our project car was not only built for speed but had several rare and desirable options (the owner of the car wanted that stoplight feel but added a touch of class).
Brute acceleration was accomplished with the optional 400 cu.-in. HO engine backed by a close-ratio four-speed transmission coupled to the rare performance Safe-T-Track 4.33 rear. We had thought it was an HO because of the front brake line routing, but the HO engine that came in the GTO was built only ten days before the build date on the cowl tag--more on this later. All 360 horsepower was monitored by a Rally gauge cluster and tach, and better handling was achieved with the optional 20:1 quick steering box.
So why was it vandalized? Simple--it was also equipped with highly desirable interior options. The billing history shows it left the assembly line with a wood steering wheel, AM/FM with Verba-phonic rear speaker, console and extremely rare bucket seats with headrests.
By now, you'd think we'd learned it all. However, at the presentation at Carlisle, we realized that the HO engine in the car was date-coded with a K046 (Oct. 4, 1966) block, K036 heads, J296 intake, etc. This should normally translate into a mid-October engine assembly (1967 model year components are the only date-coded pieces in which September date codes were designated "J" instead of "I"). Since the car build date was 10B (2nd week of October '66), we were surprised that components of the engine were being cast as late as October 4th, had to be machined, assembled (all in Pontiac, Michigan), transported to Baltimore, Maryland, and installed sometime the following week.
As soon as our billing history arrived we called UCF machine in Carlisle (the company that contributed its services to help the Dauphin students with engine work). Sure enough, the billing history engine unit number and our block stamping were both 106820. Still skeptical, we placed a quick phone call to Pete McCarthy (noted drivetrain expert and author of "Pontiac Musclecar Performance 1955-1979") about the tight timeline. Pete confirmed that he had seen several examples this close, especially early in the model year when all systems in Pontiac were at maximum output.
Fully satisfied, we put our final efforts into the handwritten notations at the bottom of the history. We knew 578 and 571 were option codes but the rest of the notations made no sense to us. That meant we needed another expert--this time in Pontiac internal documentation. A quick fax to Jim Mattison of Pontiac Historic Services brought the answer.
After examining the notations (-578 +571 per 556 form 11-11-66 = 4+8 1-31-67), Jim explained that form 556 was a Pontiac change of option form usually associated with internal accounting. Probably ("never say never" concerning classic cars) the '67 arrived at the dealer with a reclining bucket seat on the invoice (i.e., - 578) but actually had headrests (+571) in the car. It appears all these codes simply mean it took until 1-31-67 for PMD to adjust accounting errors. We're not saying it definitely happened this way, but the Dauphin tech students have a true "numbers matching" musclecar to restore.
This will certainly enhance its value. Everyone involved including Carlisle automotive foundation, Ames Performance, and UCF truly have a project of which to be proud. And remember, the youth of today are the future of our hobby.--Steve "Take a kid to a car show" Ames