With the kickoff of our GTO 50th Anniversary celebration, it seems only fitting to include a feature on a first-year specimen, and we couldn’t have found one more in the spirit of the Pontiac hobby than Ron Cozzo’s Yorktown Blue hardtop. No, it’s not a 100-percent-stock restoration, yet it is representative of the type of GTOs that we often see in the hobby these days. Not only that, this “amateur” restoration is also a GTOAA Concours Modified Gold and POCI Points Judged Modified Gold winner.
Research revealed that this galloping Goat was built at the Kansas City assembly plant and delivered to a dealer in Topeka. The woman Ron bought it from pulled it out of a field in Kentucky in the early ’80s.
To call this piece of Pontiac history a basketcase might be a little generous -- it was very rusty, rough, mostly apart, and its original three-speed manual transmission was missing. It had good things going for it, though, including an owner-added ’64 Tri-Power setup, a salvageable hood and decklid, and the original engine.
Like us, you’ll want to zoom in and enjoy the close-up of the Tri-Power system, which was
Originally a base four-barrel engine, this stock-appearing 389 is now outputting well nort
For a different look, Ron used a set of body-colored Rally I wheels without trim rings and
Undeterred, Ron bought it. “I was planning a long, slow restoration and teach myself to weld and do the body work,” he says. “The unplanned sale of my ’67 GTO caused me to accelerate that plan and farm out the body. From there the project snowballed into a concours-level amateur restoration.”
Knowing that the GTO could never again be a numbers-matching original, he purposefully steered the restoration into a different direction, and made a goal to keep the vehicle’s original persona intact, while giving the iconic Poncho a new level of power, performance, and handling.
Thanks to the prior disassembly, Ron had the head start he needed to finish the project in time for the 2013 POCI-GTOAA Co-Vention. He separated the body from the chassis, sending the former to Sharks Automotive in Plain City, Ohio, for refurbishing, while the latter stayed with him.
He rebuilt the suspension with Moog bushings, Coil Spring Specialties replacement coils, Addco 1.25-/ 1-inch front/rear sway bars, and KYB adjustable gas shocks, which he painted gray to retain a stock appearance. He beefed up the frame with a set of weld-in reproduction reinforcement sections, sent the stock steering box and linkage out to be rebuilt, and had the frame and suspension components powdercoated semi-gloss black for a correct appearance and additional durability.
The original front drum brakes were deemed insufficient, so he replaced them with ’69 single-piston discs, and ’67 400 H.O. brake lines, master cylinder, and proportioning valve. The stock rear drums were retained and rebuilt.
Meanwhile, the engine was getting its own share of the limelight. Dave Hillard of Hillard Performance in Donnelsville, Ohio, transformed the original 389 into a 9.5:1-compression 421 by boring the 78X-code block .030-inch over and fitting it with Ross custom forged pistons (19cc dish), Eagle 6.800-inch H-beam rods, and a SCAT 4-inch–stroke crank.
The original “716” heads were retained, but rebuilt and upgraded by Dave Bisschop at SD Performance in British Columbia, with CNC porting, an aluminum-filled crossover, a reworked bowl, and short turn radius. The valvetrain, which consists of Ferrea stainless-steel valves (1.94/1.66-inch), Comp 995 valve springs, Trick Flow Specialties pushrods (8.900-inch), and PRW stainless-steel roller rockers (1.65:1), is orchestrated by a Bullet Cams custom hydraulic roller (232/238 degrees duration at 0.050; 0.465-/0.480-inch lift).
A restored ’64 Tri-Power intake and carbs -- No. 64 jets in the center and No. 74 jets on the ends -- top the assembly. The ignition (set at 32 degrees of timing all in at 3,000 rpm) owes its spark to a production ’64 distributor housing a Pertronix Ignitor III electronic module, a reproduction coil, Packard 7mm wires, and AC R45S plugs. Exhaust gasses expel through a set of Ram Air Restoration Enterprises reproduction exhaust manifolds with 2.5-inch outlets mated to a custom 2.5-inch dual-exhaust system sourced from Classic Exhaust in Geneva, Ohio.
The estimated 500-plus horsepower at the crank is transferred to a Tremec TKO-600 five-speed transmission with a LUK 11-inch diaphragm-type clutch and Hayes 30-lb billet-steel flywheel. From there, the power is transferred to a custom driveshaft and on to a stock rearend with 3.73 gears and an Eaton limited-slip unit. The stock 14x6 steel wheels are retained, and now wrapped in 225/70R14 Diamond Back Classic Redline tires, built on Firestone Indy 500 cores. Ron added ’66 center caps, sans trim rings, to set off the unique look. Shifts are via a Hurst Blackjack unit, which fits in the stock ’64 GTO four-speed console.
Sharp-eyed readers will notice the 1-inch Addco rear sway bar fitted to this GTO’s lower c
The ’64 GTO’s rear styling is attractive without being overly gimmicky. The full-width tai
The combination of larger-than-stock rubber and a lowered stance gives this Goat an aggres
While all this mechanical metamorphosis was in motion, Sharks Automotive was hard at work on the body, replacing the rusty metal: floorpans, crossmembers, trunk floor, fuel-tank braces, rocker panels, inner and outer wheelhouses, rear-window filler panel, and one door. With the body restored, they primed and block-sanded it to perfection, and sprayed Yorktown Blue in the Dupont Chroma basecoat-clearcoat system. All new glass was installed, and Metal Brite Polishing in Dayton restored the original trim.
The cabin received a new lease on life, too. Using reproduction seat upholstery and door panels from Legendary Auto Interiors, carpet from Auto Custom Carpets, headliner and sunvisors from Ames Performance, and restored Rally gauges from Peter Serio of Precision Pontiac, Teddy Bowser of Springfield brought the interior back to a like-new appearance.
Ron’s ’64 GTO was finished just in time for the 2013 POCI-GTOAA Co-Vention in Dayton, where it won both GTOAA Concours Modified Gold and POCI Points Judged Modified Gold. We met up with him at the 2013 Ames Performance Tri-Power Pontiac Nationals, where it picked up a First Place in the ’64-’65 GTO Street Modified class.
“So far, it’s strictly been a show car … on and off the trailer,” Ron explains. “It’s only been done about two months [as of press time], so I hope to start putting some miles on it soon.”
With the upgrades from stock and the original look retained, we can’t fault Ron for wanting to rack up the miles on his amazing ’64 GTO. We would do the same!