The '72 GTO served as a well-cared-for family car until 1980 when it was retired to a life of show duty. First, battle bruises on the armor were healed--the front bumper was repainted, a dent in the right rear quarter was tended to, and a scratch was repaired in the left quarter. Wear items such as a few hoses were replaced as needed to maintain driveability, and the exhaust splitters are N.O.S. Aside from that, the GTO remains original and is stored when not in use to preserve it.
In fact, it had been stored for quite a while prior to HPP catching up with it at the '05 POCI convention. The Popes showed their GTO, and I was there to cover the event. We both traveled hundreds of miles to South Carolina only to discover that we lived 20 minutes apart in western Pennsylvania. I hadn't seen the Pontiac at any local events, and that's because it had been stored for a few years. Regardless, the '72 looked great and took Junior Gold honors scoring 397 points of 400. The deductions were for minor interior wear, and the AM radio didn't work. Its reception at POCI reaffirmed the Pope's commitment to their GTO.
Terry and Barbara had the forethought to buy smart back in the day and to preserve their two GTOs well in the following decades. Though Terry's dad can be credited for getting his son hooked on Pontiacs, it was Terry's friend Lawrence "Gib" Mahle who inspired him to stay in the hobby. "Besides being a master autobody technician who restored many Pontiacs into award winners, what makes Gib so outstanding is that he was always willing to share his knowledge and assist me in projects that I could not have done alone," Terry says. "He has been a significant influence in my life and is undoubtedly responsible for my trying to keep the Pontiac image alive." (Gib's custom '60 Bonneville pickup was featured in HPP's December '92 issue.)
Dividends for the Pope's perseverance in maintaining the '72 include accolades and dropped jaws at the shows, the comfort and excitement of knowing that they own an authentic piece of Pontiac performance history, and that whenever the mood grabs them, it can be 1972 all over again.