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.
Deeply recessed egg-crate grilles set in an otherwise unchanged Endura nose differentiates
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.
Haggerty Sales Consultant John Redelsperger reviews new-vehicle-delivery paperwork with ow
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.
The code 272 Deluxe Ivory interior remains factory issue thanks to 42 years of gentle use
The base Pure-Pontiac 400 was rated at 250 horsepower. The lack of factory air conditionin
Rear styling was carried over from ’70 on all A-Bodies. Big bumpers would arrive the follo
Bill used his GTO to bring his first-born son home from the hospital, and it continued to serve as fair-weather transportation until the late-'80s. Bill bought two '67 project GTOs to replace the one he sold back in 1968, and the '72 languished through moves, graduations, and eventually Bill's retirement.
In 1998, he pulled the '72 out of the mothballs. Years of sitting had not been kind to the Goat's brakes and tires, so they were replaced. The aging original paint and engine compartment appeared a bit drab next to concours restorations, and Bill rarely had to leave his seat during car-show-trophy presentations. Undaunted, Bill and his wife, Patti, immersed themselves in GTO clubs and events and found a great amount of appreciation and support for their spirit and story.
Bill added a ’66 GTO door panel badge to the blank A/C block-off plate. It looks like it o
Their '72 is driven to every event. Bill insists, "The only two times it was on a trailer were when it was new and when it spun a rod bearing coming home from the GTOAA Nationals in 2009."
Regarding the latter, with a scant 66,000 miles on the odometer, running 70 mph on I-65 just north of Indianapolis, the factory-issued 400 began knocking, forcing Bill and Patti to the shoulder. The GTO finished the trip on a flatbed.
Bill hatched a plan to repair the damage done by the wayward No. 3 rod bearing, while keeping much of the engine's internals reasonably stock. Despite an 068 cam to give the code-WS 400 a bit more rumble, all of the factory internals remain in service and have performed flawlessly since. The original Quadrajet still combines fuel and air, sending the mix through the original cast-iron manifold and into the 7K3 heads for a low-lead-fuel–friendly 8.2:1 squeeze ratio. Lighting the fire is the original points distributor with original wires and AC R44TS plugs. The exhaust system is a stock-type replacement and features the original chrome splitters out back.
The clutch and pressure plate were replaced in 1976 with over-the-counter GM parts and the Muncie Heavy-Duty three-speed transmission has never been apart. The original Hurst shifter still mixes gears at Bill's direction and the 3:55-geared Safe-T-Track differential faithfully multiplies the torque just as it has for 42 years. The complete suspension is likewise as Pontiac Assembly workers built it, except for a defective right-rear shock absorber, which was replaced under warranty by Kole Pontiac in 1972.
The cabin is pristine with very little yellowing of the ivory plastic and vinyl. A '66 GTO emblem is the only deviation from stock. Bill checked off a list of cabin options—Deluxe buckets, Console, Rally Gauges, AM/FM stereo, custom seatbelts, and the Decor group—that combine to offer an aesthetically pleasing environment.
Forty-two years after the GTO was delivered, it again sits in the showroom of the very dea
Pleasing to Bill and Patti is the fact that the hobby has begun to recognize and appreciate original cars and owners. Reproduction Goodyear G70-14 white-letter tires; ACDelco lights, filters, electrical, and tune-up parts were installed to help maintain those ratings, despite the fact that the GTO is driven regularly to and from events. Now Bill hardly has a chance to sit down at trophy presentations these days. He's earned GTOAA Best Original honors in 2007 and 2013, and Gold four times since 2006.
POCI recognized the Nawrot's GTO as well, bestowing Gold on it the last three years in a row, and Champion status most recently.
The GTO has also received Freeze Frame accolades at Bloomington Gold, boasting an astounding 90-percent-original exterior, interior, and chassis rating, and an over-75-percent-original underhood rating in its Survivor Collector Car competition. Bill's '72 GTO stands testament to the fact that it's possible to drive and enjoy an original muscle car without keeping it sealed in an airtight container between shows.
Bill and Patti frequently talk about the wonderful people they've met through the hobby, and all of the interest in their GTO and its one-owner story. Bill may not have envisioned the long-term relationship his desire to buy one last new GTO has brought, but it's certainly one of the best commitments he's ever made.
Rally IIs measuring 14 inches in diameter took a one-year hiatus and returned on the ’74 G
Stainless exhaust splitters are reminiscent of earlier GTOs.
Essentially unchanged since a mild refresh for ’70, model-year ’72 marked the final year f