Responsibility for maintaining these 69 machines falls to Joe Steinmetz. You've already met Joe--he's toasting the tires on the Firehawk on the cover. He has stewarded the collection for the last four years and still builds some of his own projects in his spare time. A rewarding aspect of his career with the collection, aside from being able to maintain the cream-of-the-crop of highly desirable musclecars and classics is, "I get to drive them! Though that, too, has its downfall," he claims. "When I go home to my own '85 Mustang, it's nice, but not built to the level of the cars that I work with each day." Another fringe benefit for Joe is, "the great people I get to meet, like Chip Foose, actors, singers, football players, and other celebrities who are invited to see the collection. If that's not enough, YearOne is right down the road, so we show off some of Milton's cars at their monthly cruise-ins."
As you may have gathered by the title, this collection is not open to the public--it's accessible by invitation only. But Milton is a gracious host, and has shared his collection with many automobile clubs and other hobbyists.
High Performance Pontiac's invite was received at the GTOAA Convention in 2005, where the author met Joe. The result of that meeting was a trip down south a few months later. What follows is what we saw and learned during our tour of the collection. We will present some of Milton's Pontiacs in this issue, but there will be a big surprise in the next issue when three more of his most rare and valuable four-speed convertibles--a '69 Ram Air III Trans Am, a '69 Ram Air IV Judge, and a '70 Ram Air IV Judge--take center stage.
'69 Firebird 400 Convertible
Milton spotted this Pontiac on I-85 on his way into Atlanta about 16 years ago. Liking what he saw in the Antique Gold Bird, after following it for 30 miles he was able to wave the driver over. "He was coming to Atlanta to get an insurance appraisal on the car," Milton says. "I told him that if he was interested in selling it, he could stop by my office on the way home. He did, and the rest is history."
It turns out this Firebird was a show car that toured the Southeastern states, appearing at dealer shows when new. It features a rare leather interior [Much of it was out for resto during our shoot, so, sorry, no photo.--Ed.] and a host of options, and it even has a carpeted trunk.
John Sullivan, owner of Sullivan Motor Company in Anderson, South Carolina, decided he had to have the optioned-out F-body after its show duty. And we do mean optioned-out. Extra cost items consist of the 330-horse 400 engine, four-speed trans, AM/FM radio, 8-Track, Custom Sport steering wheel, tilt column, console, walnut shift knob, ride and handling package, power antenna, Rally wheels, hood tach, Rally gauges, remote deck lid release, variable ratio power steering, disc brakes, power top, fold-down rear seat, left and right visor mirrors, bright pedal trim, Deluxe seatbelts, head restraints, and tinted glass. The tally for all this opulence? Suggested retail was over $4,800 in 1969 money.
'57 Fuel-Injected Bonneville Convertible
"I was out in Reno at Hot August Nights in 2003 when I saw this '57 Bonneville convertible," Milton says. "I had no intention of buying a car out there, but it was such a good original, I had to take it home." Just 630 were built, all with the 347 V-8 featuring Rochester mechanical fuel injection, and this one features Kenya Ivory paint with Fountain Blue accents. Standard items for the Bonneville that were normally relegated to the option list on other models include power steer-ing, power brakes, power windows, dual exhaust, electric wipers, windshield washers, cushioned instrument panel, six-way adjustable seat, leather seat trim, 8.50x14 whitewall tires, deluxe wheel discs, and Strato-Flight Hydramatic transmission.
The Bonneville was one of the first truly collectable Pontiacs. It eclipsed the $100,000 mark in the late '80s back when restored Ram Air IV GTOs and Judges could still be had for less.