From this angle, there’s a little more to give this GTO’s semi-stealthy game away. The Hur
Mark wanted his car to be black, with limo-tint glass so dark it looks painted. (Or is that impossibly smooth black PPG paint like glass?) Black cars show everything, but there isn't a swirl mark to be seen, even though it's been driven nearly 4,000 miles since its completion two years ago. Yet Mark's driveway is 500 feet of loose gravel, kicking up dust at every revolution of the wheel. Does he alter his vision for the sake of convenience? No, he paints it black and doubles down on cleaning products. The day we met Mark for the shoot, his GTO was on a four-post lift and he was cleaning dirt out of the tire treads with a toothbrush.
The carcass was chemically stripped of its factory materials at Ready Strip of Tempe, Arizona, which means that rust, filler, seam sealer, everything, was gone; once the appropriate crevices were resealed and the body was deemed straight, Mark set to work with a selection of PPG products. Two coats of black DP90LF epoxy primer, multiple coats of high-build K36 primer that were blocked smooth, and finally 3 coats of black DBC urethane and 10—10!—coats of 2021 clear, and wet- sanding and polishing.
Save for the driprails and wheelwell moldings, all of the stainless and chrome is factory, and was sent to Royal Plating in Tucson for a shine that equals the bodywork it sets off.
Inside, hidden from view, Dynamat and Dynaliner grace every panel. "Inside the fenders, in the door skins and the quarters, up into the roof, and on the C-pillars—every place I could put soundproofing, it's there," Mark says. Although Dynamat is meant to be soundproofing and Dynaliner is meant to reject heat, "Dynaliner makes for good soundproofing too."
"The door panels—they're not just cardboard. They're 1⁄4-inch wood to give 'em dimension, then foam and leather on top of that. The wood alone quieted things considerably. I used three cans of foam in the trunk and rear decklid. All the sound deadening is why this GTO came in so heavy."
White-face AutoMeter C2 gauges fill every nacelle of the Covan Thunder Road instrument clu
Rather than the gaping hole with a spare that most trunks tend to be, this GTO’s trunk is
Other than the shape of the instrument panel, a Hurst shifter, and the console that’s inst
So despite the engine's fury, in the cabin Mark can carry on a conversation at a level that strains neither vocal cord nor eardrum. A bevy of power items—windows, locks, trunk release, and antenna, plus pushbutton start—continue the luxury feel. Bright LED interior lighting adds a modern touch, as does the notion that practically any surface you can touch inside is either glass, cool metal, carpet, or leather. A friend sewed the headliner but, once again, Mark took on the task of designing, sculpting, and fitting the interior himself, down to the custom door panels designed to complement the seats.
The interior will have everyone doing double-takes—there's precious little that looks vintage GTO in here. There's a Hurst shifter (with Line-Loc) but the Hurst Blackjack shifter is a far cry from a vintage T-handle. A new-millenium GTO donated a pair of plush leather-covered buckets in front and back, but little else; a set of five-point Simpson harnesses keeps all parties in place.
Clearly, this isn't meant to be a strip car, but Mark took it to the local quarter-mile facility all the same, just to get a sense of its capabilities. With a quarter tank of 104-octane Torco, a 4,125-pound race weight at the line, that stiff cornering-friendly suspension, and running drag radials, Mark pulled off a 11.62 at 115.6 mph, with a 1.59 60-foot time, a 4,000-rpm launch, and 5,800-rpm shifts—in a cabin where he could barely hear the exhaust.
Not a line has been altered, not a lick of chrome removed—in pictures, only the big-inch r
No compromises were allowed when Mark was building his GTO; indeed, none were sought. (He estimates he's invested $48,000 into what he calls the last car he'll ever build. This does not include the 900 hours in body- and paint-work, and additional eight and a half intense months he spent putting it all together.)
A two-ton GTO dispatching the quarter-mile in 11 seconds—on a stiff road-race-ready suspension, no less. It yawns while digesting curves it was never designed to gorge upon. The exhaust will make you turn your head and look—but the darkened glass will make it impossible to see who's inside. Unseen, Mark will be smiling from his leather-lined, air- conditioned, surprisingly quiet cocoon of a cabin as he jams away to an MP3 player full of his favorite tunes.
All Mark Avakian wanted was his interpretation of having it all. And the amazing thing is, he got it.