Even though Todd wasn't particularly looking for a '64 model A-body, let alone a Tempest,
After collecting a '75 Trans Am and '72 "Monk King" GTO 455 H.O., Todd realized something
Would you believe those are original chrome bumpers? Todd found them in a junkyard while o
The Butler-built 467 stroker puts out some serious power with aid of a Air Inlet Systems r
Since the A/C system wasn't factory installed, it was yanked. Therefore a light and bright
The casual observer will be too blinded by the brilliant Halibrand 15x8 wheels to notice t
What Todd likes best about this '64 is the "handling, horsepower, torque and satisfaction
Things are not always what they appear. That's something to which any horror movie buff can attest. The kindly stranger with the twinkle in his eye is really the evil monster. Or conversely, that gruesome creature is really a being with a heart of gold. Nothing gets the blood curdling, the stomach tightening, and the adrenaline pumping like a good, suspenseful scare flick. Keeping that in mind, consider this sweet '64 GTO. Or so it would appear.
Awe-inspiring aptly describes the transformation this '64 convertible went through to achieve its current state of being. Fresh out of college in June of 1992, Todd Schoel of Carrolton, Texas, was looking for an A-body project; although not particularly a '64 model. Yet things changed when he stumbled across this abused and neglected Tempest; that's right TEMPEST. But who could resist a '64 Pontiac convertible with selling price of $400--even though it was more freak show than automobile.
This dormant convertible showed its split personality on the day Todd bought it. "Upon arrival at the home of the former owner, I found a somewhat complete but rough candidate. I immediately noticed that one side of the Pontiac and hood were painted with flat white latex house paint! The other side was multi-colored with a skull and crossbones theme." Somewhere underneath all of that were the remains of factory Skyline Blue paint.
It gets better as he describes the once aqua-colored interior. "It had large houseflies painted [stenciled] underneath the deck lid. The dash had red paint dripping down as if it was blood. From the door panels to the radio knobs, fluorescent green, blood red, silver and black paint covered the interior." Anywhere trim was missing in the interior they had applied red paint to appear as oozing blood. No doubt the '64 was screaming bloody murder to be saved from this kind of treatment. "Call it operation rescue; call me crazy; I just had to have it."
Todd's line of thinking was quite straightforward. As nothing short of a full frame-off restification would make this project worth the money and effort, then why not go all out with a bar-none performance GTO clone? The game plan was simple: Stick as many performance components into this ragtop as possible to make it a Pontiac that didn't need to be number's matching to get the thumbs up from everyone but a concours judge.
Schoel, a 42-year-old salesman of aviator lighting, hardly claims to be a sheetmetal-welding expert although he does have some experience in general welding from high school. This rough '64 was the perfect project on which to cut his teeth. With that said, there were many pitfalls and repeat work performed along the journey to create his ultimate A-body.
The Tempest-specific taillight panel had to be changed for a LeMans/GTO look. Rather than go with reproduction or NOS, a couple of '64 LeManses donated their skin for the cause--fenders and doors to be exact. Oddly, while the rear quarters were a solid challenge, filling the Tempest-specific 3/8-inch trim holes that originally ran along the sides of the quarter panels required some creativity. Todd explains, "I had small steel discs punched out at the shop where I worked to fill the holes. Using strong magnets on the back I was able to weld them in place leaving very little evidence."
With the body solid once again and hauled off to Bankston Auto Body of Dallas for a thorough media-stripping, the unobstructed frame and sub-assemblies were sandblasted at Able Sandblasting and then treated to a 40-percent gloss black powder coating at Ace Powercoat in Garland, Texas. According to Todd, "this is where the fun began. Everything that could be installed, was. This included, stainless steel brake lines, 3/8 inch [aluminum] fuel lines, PST polyurethane bushings, Hotchkis boxed rear control arms and front upper A-arms, Second-Generation F-body spindles, H-O Racing springs and 1-3/8 inch front and rear stabilizer bars, KYB gas shocks, front and rear disc brakes, ['80s Monte Carlo SS] fast-ratio steering box and linkage, engine, transmission, driveshaft, and differential--everything!"
Let's review that list in a bit more detail. In addition to adding Second-Generation Firebird front spindles and 4-wheel disc brake system, Todd included rebuilt calipers and a Master Power master cylinder and booster kit. He shares, "The mini-booster kit had to be installed to clear the tall valve covers." Doing things the hard way, Schoel also admits that he acquired all kinds of equipment and tools to bend his own stainless brake lines. Lastly, the rotors were upgraded with 11-inch Power Stop cross-drilled units. A set of aluminum alloy 15x8-inch Halibrand "Speedway" 3-spoke spinner knock-off wheels and BFG 225/60R15 T/As comprise the rolling stock. Todd noted, "I had to have the back custom machined for a 4.25-inch backspacing to clear the wheel wells."
Somewhere along this 2-year timeline, the body was media-blasted and as Todd muses, "It came out looking like a shiny nickel." At that point Garland, Texas's own Krause Brothers again put the shiny body on the rotisserie for a painting and underbody finishing. Herberts Standox was the paint of choice. Three blocked coats of primer gave way to 6 coats of Dark Carmine (pronounced Kar-men) before 3 layers of clear coat were applied. While the color isn't a factory GTO hue it is indeed a GM color for a '79 GMC truck (the paint code coincidentally is 79). Todd adds, "The rust protected underbody was a non-clear coated version of the top side."
With the body and frame reunited, a complete Painless Wiring system kit was installed so that--among other things--a Nordskog custom LCD 7-segment gauge unit could replace the idiot lights. Don't go rushing out to order your own set because they were fabricated. Todd confesses, "From the outside they look like factory idiot lights until they light up, but from behind there is all kinds of epoxy." An original AM, "no push-button, knob select," radio and power antenna were also put in.
Moving into year 3, Todd apparently got an awesome deal on powder coating because he decided to have the convertible top frame done. Grab your notepads Pontiac fans as he shares yet another installment of "do as I say, not as I do" words of wisdom.
You know those plastic bushings that fit within the convertible top frame's scissor hinges, right? You might want to make sure to remove the plastic bushings BEFORE sending it out to the powder coater. "They forgot to take them out and they melted in the baking oven, ruining the frame. I had to get a whole new convertible frame."
It was then time for Bell's Auto Trim in Plano, Texas, to complete the convertible top and clean up that horror crime scene interior, so a call went in to Year One for all the "soft" interior, roof, and trim stuff. Lokar billet foot pedals may brighten up the lower interior, yet Todd despairingly reported, "I had to fabricate the pedals by cutting off the original pad mounts and weld fine thread nuts in their place. They were more trouble than they were worth." Still keeping notes, guys and gals?
Now the good stuff: Three different engines have resided under the hood. Although a 326ci 2-barrel V-8 was originally nestled between the fenders, a potent 455 and solid motor mounts had to go into this project. A new lesson learned the hard way is friends don't let friends let Chevy people build Pontiac engines. Two rebuilds for a swallowed valve and flattened cam later and Todd got serious or as he puts it, "I finally got smart and purchased a Jim Butler stroker 455." Jim Butler built up a wild 4-bolt main 467 engine based on a "gently used" '72 service replacement 455.
A 4.25-inch stroke crankshaft spins in JBP #031 main bearings. Ross forged flat-top .030-over pistons (with Total-Seal rings), and Eagle forged steel H-beam connecting rods assist ported 87cc chamber Edelbrock heads (that flow over 320 cfm at 28 inches of water) to create a 9.73:1 compression ratio. JBP 1.60:1 aluminum roller rocker arms do the monster mash on Ultradyne springs, titanium retainers and Ferrea valves (2.11 intake /1.77 exhaust). A Competition Cams (custom grind, # PON3371/3373HR108) hydraulic roller conducts the orchestra of power. Advertised duration is 309/317 degrees with 254/262-degree duration at .050. Lift is .571/.571 with 1.50:1 rockers and .609/.609 lift with 1.60:1 rockers. Lobe separation is 108 degrees.
To light the fire is a complete potent ignition system consisting of an MSD Blaster 3 coil, crankshaft trigger and distributor, Mallory 8mm wires, and NGK R5671A-8 plugs. Total timing is 34 degrees all in at 1,200 rpm.
In the belly of the beast, a (ahem) slick Melling SD/RAIV-spec oil pump and Pre-Luber (www.enginelube.com) electric pre-lubrication system reside in a Canton 7-quart oil pan. Up on top, a Demon 825 drag race carb, Edelbrock Performer RPM intake, and Holley electric Comp 140 lb-hr fuel pump feed the hungry monster. Tending to the mighty motor's leftovers are Indian Adventures' 1-7/8-inch headers and a 3-inch H-pipe dual exhaust system rumbling through Flowmaster II mufflers ensure that this Tempest talks the talk.
Originally equipped with a 2-speed Powerglide, now backing up all that is a Centerforce 11-inch clutch and plate combo, a Hays 30-pound steel flywheel, B&M Ripper shifter, Lakewood bellhousing, and Tremec "TKO" 5- speed transmission (1st -3.27, 2nd -1.98, 3rd -1.34, 4th -1.00, 5th-.68). Todd had a bit of custom work to perform to bolt it up, but a fabricated Speed Direct rod bearing clutch linkage was cussed into place to give him that smooth clutch action. The driveshaft also needed to be shortened and rebalanced. The driveshaft safety loop was a good idea to put in too. A 3.55 Richmond geared, Auburn BOP posi unit, and Jim Butler NHRA-spec custom alloy axles were crammed into a 10-bolt housing from a '72 GTO, forever banishing that factory open rear. Aiding in the battle to get all that torque to the ground are H-O Hop Stop bars.
Well there you have it fans. The true-to-life Return of the Living Dead. The real sci-fi hybrid Pontiac that has it all; drop-dead looks, monster power, creature comforts, and space-age components. In 1992, only Todd could see the inner beauty in that skull and bones monstrosity; however no one is now offended by its looks. . .but they might want to look deep beyond the skin before racing against this Tempest, I mean. . .GTO.
About the Restification
Wrapping up 4 years of creative work in one neat little sidebar. No one said that a buildup of this magnitude would be easy. Most don't even get finished. However, as you can see this was a project from Hades that was worth every ounce of time, money and energy.
Negative image skulls were so frightful on this Tempest that the previous owner had to pai
The heart rate of this Tempest had long since slowed to a stop by the time Todd got to it
Todd had to deal with your typical convertible rust that necessitated replacement of every
Year One got the call for that order.
Bottoms up--For all other novices he offers a very valuable piece of bodywork resto advice
You know someone is serious when you see a Pontiac brought down this far. I bet this '64 n
The real skeleton of the Tempest with freshly baked powder coating will ensure no corrosio
Talk about a car jacking! After the body was media blasted Todd recalls, "I then enlisted