By 1972, the muscle-car era was coming to a close. Changing public tastes, skyrocketing insurance rates, and new government regulations put pressure on Detroit to produce more environmentally responsible, safe, and economical vehicles. Pontiac felt the brunt of this social swing perhaps more than competitors as its reputation as the go-to shop for performance meant that it had the most to lose.

Fortunately, there were still members of the car-buying public who wanted muscle cars and a few dedicated people within PMD fought to keep performance from leaving the Pontiac catalog altogether.

Models such as the LeMans Sport and Firebird Formula were touted as affordable performance cars, and along with their big brothers, the GTO and Trans Am, could still be had with 455 engines, four-speed manuals, and deep gears. For all the doom and gloom, options were still available to anyone with deep enough pockets to buy, operate, and insure a muscular new Pontiac.

Bill Nawrot of Chicago is one such enthusiast. Having bought his first GTO new in the spring of 1967—a Tyrol Blue hardtop with the base 400 and heavy-duty three-speed manual—he was hooked. He drove the Poncho daily until he joined the U.S. Army in 1968. Not knowing what would happen, Bill reluctantly decided to sell the '67, but not before he enjoyed one last romp.

"On the way to being inducted in the service, I was stopped at an intersection and did a burnout when the light turned green. I ran the car up to 100 mph and let off. I sold the GTO a month later," Bill recalls.

Bill made it home from Vietnam in 1970, returned to his previous job with the phone company, and bought a used '66 GTO followed by another Tyrol Blue '67 in an attempt to recover from the void left by his two years in the service. Both Goats were fine rides, but Bill missed the thrill of taking delivery of a new GTO.

On February 15, 1972, he visited Kole Pontiac in Oak Lawn, Illinois, and placed his order for a brand-new GTO, optioned very similarly to the '67 he had special ordered from that very same dealership five years prior: Lucerne Blue hardtop with a black vinyl top and a white interior powered by a 400/three-speed manual combo. To his amazement, his car arrived from the Pontiac assembly plant just over two weeks later and he took delivery on March 6.

A Lucerne Blue '72 GTO may not be as flashy at its Carousel Red '69 Judge cousin, but it can still attract the wrong kind of attention, especially in an urban area like Chicago. About a month after he took delivery, Bill came out of his office building and discovered the GTO was gone. An eyewitness had observed the GTO leaving the lot and thought it was odd that the gears were grinding so much. (The thief was trying to shift the three-speed in a four-speed pattern, causing the transmission to grunt in protest.)

Bill called a police officer for whom he had recently installed a new phone line, and was told of an area neighborhood known for harboring hot cars. Bill followed up on the tip, and amazingly, a few days later, he spotted his Goat parked on the street in front of an apartment building. Bill inconspicuously walked past his stolen ride, noting the passenger-side door-lock cylinder had been punched out to make a key for the ignition. The thief apparently didn't bother to figure out the reverse/ignition interlock, opting instead to leave the key in the ignition and cover it with a paper napkin. Bill immediately notified the police and his Pontiac was recovered. The damaged passenger door was repainted, and to this day, the ignition-warning buzzer will sometimes sound for no reason as a reminder of the theft.