Here’s the Ram Air V’s original purchase receipt from 1971.
Original owners always have great stories about the adventures they shared with their vehicles and other people. There's a special aura that goes with an original-owner car as well, that sense of shared history—in many ways it's like a marriage. You really get to see the sense of pride that goes with that level of commitment.
For Don Edler of Concord, Ohio, that journey began on June 8, 1964, when he took delivery of this '64 GTO hardtop from Newman Motors, in Cleveland. "I was in the Air Force in North Dakota," Don recalls. "I went to the town's Pontiac dealer, and after reading about the GTO, I knew that if I could sell my '58 Chieftain, I would have my dad order one for me at a dealer in Cleveland."
That is just how it worked out, and soon Don was behind the wheel of his very own GTO—a Nocturne Blue, Tri-Power, four-speed, with a 3.90 Safe-T-Track and a black, bucket-seat interior. It had a list price of $3,468.30—a princely sum back then.
Don shows off his original Purely PMD Ram Air V Tunnel Port T-shirt. Bet you haven’t seen
Don drove it while in North Dakota and back home in Ohio. After he left the Air Force, he began drag racing the Goat at Dragway 42. With some headers and tuning, he was able to get the 389 Tri-Power into the very respectable 12.50s. Nonetheless, he was starting to lose more and more to some of the Royal Bobcat-equipped Pontiacs that were coming down from Michigan. By 1971, he decided that a more powerful engine was necessary.
A tip about some 455 crate engines at Jack Shaw's West Side Pontiac in Lakewood, Ohio, sent him to the parts counter. "I found out the shop had four 455 crate motors for sale at just $400 each," Don recalled. "I asked about them and the parts guy asked what I was looking to do with the engine. When I told him I wanted to race, he pointed to two other crates and said, ‘What you want is one of those Ram Air Vs.' The price was higher at $1,600, but it was a real race engine."
Knowing that the forged bottom end and tunnel-port heads would have much more potential than a regular 455 street engine, he plunked down the cash and became one of the lucky few to own one of these near-mythical beasts. He still has the receipt to prove it.
Once installed with a set of JR headers, the GTO was quicker but not as much as he had hoped. It would dip into the 12.20s but he wanted more. Knowing there was some sciencing out of the combination ahead of him, he wrote to H-O Racing Specialties; Craig Hendrickson suggested several modifications to increase performance and durability. After having Dave Weber perform some extensive tuning, replacing the camshaft, and adding an 850 Holley, the Ram Air V responded with 11.60s at 120-plus mph. He ran slicks and open headers and would shift at 7,000 rpm. That Ram Air V was a screamer and would go through the traps at nearly 8,000 rpm, as he was running a 5.38 gearset at the time.
The engine eventually lost oil pressure and was damaged. After it was repaired, the responsibilities of work and family sidelined the GTO. It was parked in the garage for more than 25 years; in that time, Don bought a '76 Trans Am and worked it up into a hot-running street car, complete with a five-speed TKO transmission.
Finally, the time was right to resurrect the old Goat. Don retired after 37 years with Lincoln Electric, the arc welder manufacturer. The GTO came out of hibernation and the engine was sent to Butler Performance, who freshened and tuned it.
Unfortunately, problems with the factory forged crankshaft eventually showed up, and by 2009, it was time to pull it apart. He took the engine to Hutter Performance in Chardon, Ohio, for an extensive rebuild. "Since the original crankshaft would not be going back in the engine, we decided to up the displacement in order to pick up some mixture velocity through those huge intake ports," Don recalls.
Hutter's engine combination revolved, quite literally, around a Crower billet crankshaft with a 4.25-inch stroke. Combined with a set of 0.030-inch-over, custom, JE coated, forged pistons for a total displacement of 461ci in the No. 545686 block. The pistons swing on a set of 6.800-inch Crower rods. Total compression checks in at 10.7:1.
The No. 44 heads were mildly ported by Hutter, and are fitted with Manley stainless steel 2.19-inch intake and 1.73-inch exhaust valves actuated by a custom Comp Cams mechanical-roller cam. It features 248/254 degrees of duration at 0.050-inch lift and 0.694/0.694-inch lift with the 1.65:1 Lunati roller rockers.
The 400ci Ram Air V now displaces 461 ci by way of a Crower billet crankshaft and 0.030-in
The interior is original except for the Ames reproduction carpet and headliner. The factor
A BOP polymer gear, an MSD 7AL amplifier, and an MSD Blaster coil augment the factory Ram Air V distributor. MSD Super Conducter 8.5mm wires send current to NGK R5670 plugs. Total timing of 36 degrees is achieved at 3,500 rpm. Oiling chores are handled by a Melling MEL M54F pump and a factory oil pan that was deepened to an 8-quart capacity.
The original dual-plane Ram Air V precision-cast aluminum intake manifold was reunited with the factory-installed 800-cfm Holley carb by way of a homemade aluminum 7⁄8-inch spacer. Exhaust gases exit through a set of custom-built Stainless Works headers with 2-inch primaries and 3.5-inch collectors, which flow into a custom Stainless Works 3.5-inch dual exhaust system with an X-pipe crossover.
All 680-plus horses are channeled through a Hays flywheel and Ram Powergrip 11-inch clutch in the Lakewood scattershield to the '76 T/A's original Super T-10 four-speed. It spins a custom-built 1310 aluminum driveshaft from Henderson Driveshaft into a '65 12-bolt rearend built by John Nuts in Burton, Ohio. It features welded axle tubes, a Moroso Brute Strength posi, C-clip eliminators, 4.11 gears, and Moser 30-spline axles.
There is a lot more to this '64 GTO than the engine and its one-owner status. During the last engine update, the rest of the car was treated to a body-off restoration, which also included some chassis upgrades. It was media-blasted and primed with PPG K-36 primer and DP epoxy primer, and was then painted with PPG chassis paint. The front suspension features six-cylinder coilsprings, Polygraphite bushings, QA1 12-point adjustable shocks, and an SSBC drilled and slotted front disc-brake conversion.
Out back, the rear suspension was rebuilt using Hotchkis adjustable upper control arms, boxed factory lower control arms, Polygraphite bushings, QA1 12-point adjustable shocks, Edelbrock Stop Hop bars, and custom rear crossmember bracing.
The body was also mediablasted and primed, and then finished in a PPG basecoat/clearcoat system and color-sanded with 2,000-grit paper. The bumpers were rechromed and the stainless trim was polished.
Since completion, Don's GTO has picked up some pretty hefty awards. "It's a trailer queen now," he explained. "It still brings back so many great memories, though." Perhaps it will hit the road again soon.
Don's Goat has accompanied him in life since he was 20 years old. There is no way this one will ever be sold. "My older son will eventually get this car, and my younger son will get the Trans Am," he said. "Both of them are going to have to wait a while!"