By Greg "Chopper" Lammers
In the fall of 1968, I remember seeing my first GTO. Hubert H. Humphrey (HHH), a local resident of my small hometown of Waverly, Minnesota (population 600), also happened to be the vice president of the United States at the time.
Since Mr. Humphrey was running against Richard Nixon for the White House, you can imagine how exciting the place was in the mid-to-late ’60s. The town was always buzzing -- national and local news media were hanging around; Bob Hope, Lorne Greene, and Jimmy Durante were spotted in and around the Waverly area. And when Minneapolis was home to the National Governor’s conference, HHH threw a party for all 50 governors right here in our little village. But I was fixated on one thing -- the hot cars that cruised into town looking for action.
When I turned 20 years old, I bought my first car -- a ’66 GTO, silver with a black vinyl top. Shortly thereafter, I traded the ’66 to a friend for a ’67 GTO, blue with a black vinyl top. I loved that car but couldn’t keep it because it needed a lot of mechanical work. Thankfully, by the late ’80s I was making more money so I finally got behind the wheel of another GTO -- a ’67 that I located in Keokuk, Iowa, for $4,500.
I was driving my GTO for about three years when I met a man in Green Isle, Minnesota, who claimed to have a ’67 GTO convertible (with a Turbo 400 and 3.55 gears) in his garage about two blocks away. I was very skeptical, but I went to look just for the heck of it, and there it sat -- and right next to it was a Carousel Red ’69 Judge with Parchment interior. In hindsight, I wish I could have bought both cars, but truthfully, I barely could convince my bank to buy the convertible.
Before I signed on the dotted line, I brought my friend Kevin Dubin, who restores GTOs, to check the car. We took it for a test drive and floored it up to 105 mph on bald tires -- and the gas pedal stuck to the floor! It could have been my first and last ride in that car, but we survived by turning the key off and on until it stopped. It wrecked the motor, but I bought the car anyway for $6,500. I immediately took it to Marketon’s Body Shop in Montrose for a killer red paint job. Now I owned two GTOs; I drove both until 1996, when I decided to just keep the convertible.
I became a disc jockey in 1979, and started my mobile DJ business in 1983, but I wasn’t your run-of-the-mill disc jockey. Using my nickname, I called my business Chopper, the World’s Nuttiest DJ, and put together a huge sound system, and did a comedy show using a lot of hats and props. I was inspired by Paul Revere and the Raiders, Flash Cadillac (American Graffiti), and the carefree fun of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s.
But it was my love of GTOs that inspired me to add the ultimate prop to my act: the front clip of a ’67 GTO. Thanks to some talented Pontiac nuts, it came together. Roger Karels and George Chap made my first metal front end, while Scott Paumen of Maple Lake made a much larger fiberglass version. Extreme Graphics of Waverly made a custom “Chopper” license plate, which was painted and flamed by Moy Auto Body in Waverly. John T. at Star West of Delano rounded up all the Goat parts that I needed; Scott Ogle, another Waverly guy, wired it all for me by adding working headlights and turn signals.
I’ve since played at two GTOAA meets—one in Bloomington in 1990 and another in the Chicago area in 1991. I’ve also played the Minnesota Street Rods “Back to the ’50s Weekend.” Whether I’m performing at a wedding, a company party, or any type of event, almost all the people enjoy the car theme because it’s so much fun and universal. But nothing matches the fun of playing car shows, where I’m always among fellow car enthusiasts. It’s even more fun driving the party behind the front end of the ultimate musclecar: the GTO.
|In My Words|
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