Long before gold-emblem-imbued SUVs that cost $40,000-plus and get 8 mpg clogged the turnpikes of the nation, station wagons were the family trucksters that hauled the kiddies to school and provided cross-country vacation transportation each year. Many a future musclecar lover who grew up in the '60s or '70s can fondly remember peering out of the backseat window of a wagon as the summer scenery passed by at 60 mph between stops at roadside eateries and oddities. The station wagon was the conduit to all things awe-inspiring and tourist trap-ish during this annual pilgrimage to far-away places.
Since wagons were car-based, they followed the form of some of our favorite coupes and sedans with the added function of an extended roof and a tailgate. Kinship shared with musclecars ensured that it wouldn't be long before enterprising hobbyists would start scooping up wagons that resembled their favorite machines and infuse them with speed parts and the exterior ornamentation required to create an SUV for the ages.
Though not a typical musclecar rear view, the GTO decal on the quarter and the '64-'67 GTO
Wagon-based muscle got hot in the '90s--even HPP built a '65 GTO wagon clone back then, and a loyal following has kept the musclecar wagon concept fresh into the new millennium. Most every Pontiac event has a few GTO wagons to see and the '05 GTOAA Nats was no different.
A standout amongst them was Scott Maserang's '68 Tempest wagon that had received the full GTO treatment. Scott said it was built to appear as a factory '68 GTO wagon, had Pontiac actually built them. The Solar Red 428-powered machine was first spied by yours truly at the GTOAA drag race. It appeared to be frighteningly fresh out of resto/modding, but a closer look revealed that it wasn't quite done yet. A peek under the hood uncovered missing A/C parts--component omissions that would relegate the otherwise gorgeous wagon to wait-til-next-year status regarding a feature photo shoot. I explained the situation to Scott and he understood. He then proceeded to stay up all night and install the remaining A/C components, arriving the next day with a finished wagon. This, after putting in many long days and nights with his brother Ray working on the Pontiac preceding the event just to get it done in time. As a result of his dedication, the wagon was photographed and is presented here for your viewing pleasure.
Procuring the Endura front bumper assembly, the grilles, and the hood were required for th
As you may have guessed, Scott, a 33-year-old autobody technician from Fenton, Missouri, has a soft spot for '68 GTOs and station wagons. This Tempest wagon-turned-GTO represents the fusion of his two vehicular favorites. "I always had an interest in wagons, ever since my grade-school car pool," Scott says. "One of the families had a '70-'72 Olds Vista Cruiser, and I thought it was so cool with the skylight and all the windows.
"When I was a senior in high school, I bought my first '68 GTO convertible and restored it. Then a few years later I bought a '68 GTO hardtop and a '68 Tempest Sprint four-door. I would see wagons in the junkyards and figure they were just good parts cars. Then I started to see a few Chevelle SS and Cutlass 442 wagons in the '90s. I thought they were cool, but I was into '68 GTOs and had never seen a '68 GTO wagon up to that point. Pontiac wagon availability was really beginning to dry up here in the Midwest, so in the fall of 2002 I placed an ad on a station wagon Web site hoping to find one. I had no response until May 2003. I got in contact with Chris LaCasse who lived near Sacramento, California, and he told me his '68 was still for sale. He e-mailed me some pictures and I bought it sight unseen for $1,500."
This 428 engine was borrowed from Scott's '68 GTO. Appearing stock on the outside with a f
Upon delivery of the GTO, Scott was pleased to learn the Tempest was as described with no surprises. Strangely enough, it was in fact covered in multiple coats of latex house paint as had been revealed by the previous owner prior to sale.
With impending nuptials on the horizon, Scott didn't get started on his wagon until March 2004. The front clip went to Gateway Company in North St. Louis County for media blasting to remove all the latex paint and get down to bare metal. After the body was separated from the frame, both were later treated to the same process. With the old paint removed, Scott learned the wagon had been hit in the rear in its past life so some sheetmetal repair was warranted. And there were a few rust spots that would require patching. Overall, the body was in very good condition, however. More curious than the latex cocoon in which the Tempest was dressed was the bullet hole that Scott found over the front passenger seat!
A GTO rear seat cover had to be modified by friend Jeff Grahm to work with the fold-down s
Dent and rust repair, and the massaging of the Tempest's flanks to better than factory form followed. Scott continued to put his bodyman skills to good work at Walnut Park Autobody in Crestwood, Missouri, by applying DuPont 1144S primer and dry-blocksanding the first coat with 180-grit paper and then wet-blocking with 320- and 400-grit paper, respectively, on the next two coats. A single application of Chroma Premiere sealer was followed by four coats of DuPont ChromaBase in code "R" Solar Red and three coats of clear, with the latter wet-sanded with 1,500-grit paper before final polishing.
The chassis was coated in DuPont black enamel with a flattener to mimic the factory sheen, and the suspension was rebuilt front and rear. Performance upgrades include a 1.25-inch front stabilizer bar, a 0.875-inch rear bar, upper rear control arm braces, boxed lower control arms, and Polygraphite bushings all around. Shocks are stock replacement, and the braking system, featuring factory optional four-piston front discs, was refurbished as well.
A two-tone red and pearl white look was desired by the owner. Lack of ready-made interior
Looking under the GTO hood, Scott decided that Pontiac should have built a '68 GTO wagon with a 428 engine instead of a 400. And why not--the wagon was heavier, right? To that end, he procured the engine from his resto/modded '68 GTO convertible for the task once he saw the engine he was planning to build would not be done in time for the GTOAA Nats.
Previously, the 428 block was bored 0.030 over and refitted with a 0.010/0.010 cut and polished stock crank, reworked stock rods, and 0.030-over replacement TRW pistons and rings. A set of No. 16 heads featuring 2.11/1.77 valves were rebuilt with new guides, and hardened valve seats were installed. Determining the action of those valves is a hydraulic Comp cam featuring 244/244 degrees duration at 0.050 and 0.501/0.501 lift (with 1.50:1 stamped-steel rockers) and a 110-degree lobe separation angle. To maintain a factory look, the cast-iron intake and Q-jet carb were retained. A subtle nod to performance is discovered when you notice that the exhaust crossover was cut off the intake for a cooler charge, and a later GM HEI ignition system disperses the spark with aid from an ACCEL Super coil. The compression ratio is approximately 10.75:1 and timing is set for 36 degrees total by 3,000 rpm.
A few shakedown runs literally minutes after the car was finished resulted in a best of 14
Factory ram air manifolds usher combustion remains to a Pypes 2.5-inch mandrel-bent exhaust system and through Summit turbo mufflers.
TCI's 11-inch 2,000-stall converter transfers torque to a '69 Turbo 400 that was rebuilt by Transmissions To Go in Arnold, Missouri, and has a shift kit added. A 2.56:1 geared stock open rear is great for the open highway but not the hot ticket for the dragstrip.
A set of G-70 Firestone redline reproduction tires wrapped around 14x6 Rally I wheels prov
Though it currently lacks the Safe-T-Track option, other added options will set this wagon apart from any Tempest wagon you'll likely find. Scott installed a factory A/C system in the non-A/C Tempest, firewall mods and all. He also added Rally gauges with clock, hood tach, factory AM/FM, His and Hers shifter , console, buckets, and wood wheel. Though it would seem to be a chore to locate and install all these options, that task paled in comparison to finding interior pieces. Some, like the door panels, had to be custom made by SMS Auto Fabrics in Oregon.
Being unique has its cost, but Scott wouldn't have it any other way. "Who else has the car Pontiac should have built--a GTO wagon? It combines the versatility and room of a wagon with the look of a GTO," Scott says. So all those bellybutton SUVs best move aside on the highway because Scott Maserang has built a retro version with more style and "sport" than all of them.