How many times have you walked the rows of the car shows eyeing the stock, restored Pontiacs sporting various combinations of factory-installed options and wondered, "Why did the original purchaser order this Pontiac with these options?" In the case of Richard Rudley's '70 Ram Air IV GTO, we can pose that question directly since this Marlton, New Jersey, resident ordered his new.
"I had a '68 R/A-II GTO that was totaled," he lamented. "And when I saw the '69 model, I thought it looked too much like the '68. But as soon as I saw the '70 GTO, I fell in love with the body and dashboard designs.
"I wanted the most performance that was available from Pontiac that year," the Delaware Valley Old Goat Club member told HPP regarding his decision to order the Ram Air IV. "I begged the dealer, Dave Cole Pontiac in Camden, New Jersey, to install a Ram Air V engine, but he wouldn't do it." So for $4,143.30 (after a $587.70 discount), including $558 for the WW-code 370-horse Ram Air IV engine, this '70 GTO was also equipped with an M21 close-ratio four-speed and a 4.33 Safe-T-Track rear for going, HD suspension for sticking in the corners, and power front disc brakes for stopping. A black Cordova top (code 2 or B) and Soft-Ray glass all around added a touch of luxury-but manual steering, steel wheels, and dog-dish hubcaps? This ain't no six-cylinder Tempest, nor is it a no-option GTO! This is a Ram Air IV car, so what gives?
Regarding the absence of power steering, Richard remarked, "I wanted nothing that would take power from the engine." The explanation of the wheel choice is a bit more involved: "White letter tires are what I wanted, but early in the year, the only way to get them was to order Rally II wheels. I didn't like the Rally IIs, so I said, 'Give me white line tires with whatever wheels and caps they send from the factory.'" By 1972, a set of Fenton mags, similar in appearance to Cragar SS wheels, were installed.
Ironically, Rally wheels, the once extra-cost option, are very common now on GTOs, but seemingly everyone is searching for the standard steel wheels and dog-dish hubcaps again since most who got them new removed them in short order, like Richard. "Though I kept the factory XE-code steel wheels, I couldn't find the original dog-dish hubcaps, so I had to buy another set used," he recalled.
Given its overall condition, you may not have realized that this GTO's coat of Atoll Blue paint is factory-applied, as is the Cordova top and all of the trim. Yes, this Goat has lead the "Life-of-Riley" from day one. Richard bought a truck just six months after the GTO, so the Pontiac only saw about 500 miles per year in good weather until 1985, when it began a 12-year hibernation in his parents' garage.
A trip to the Atlantic City car show in 1997 served as the inspiration to awaken the arrowhead-crested beast that had lain dormant for over a decade. The engine was reringed and rebearinged, according to the owner, and a blueprint factory-spec Ram Air IV cam was installed. A Centerforce II clutch was bolted in to better harness the power and deliver it to the untouched and original M21 trans (code-DL) and 4.33 rear (code XM). For a more authoritative growl, a custom 2.5-inch exhaust system featuring two-chamber Flowmasters was employed.
Dry-rotted rubber bushings were replaced with urethane throughout the suspension, and a set of Monroe Sensa-Trac shocks dampen the actions of the factory springs at the four corners. Goodyear G70-14 white line reproduction tires were mounted on the factory 14x6 steel wheels.
The deviations from stock in the factory blue interior (code 250) include a set of Stewart Warner gauges and a white T-handle shifter knob. "I installed the gauges in the early '70s and found out later they were the same ones that were in the COPO Camaros," Richard said. "A friend with a Camaro begged me to sell them to him, so they must be pretty desirable now-they cost me about $30 new. I put the white T-handle on in 1970. By 1997, it had yellowed, so I went over it with wet/dry sandpaper and compounded and polished it to bring the white back up. I still have the original shift ball."
Since Richard got his GTO back on the road, he's picked up right where he left off, driving it about 500 miles per year on cruises and to shows. Having owned the Goat for 37 years, Richard says, "What I like most about my Pontiac is the performance, the way it handles and the sound-everybody goes nuts over the sound." With 82 trophies and counting, 99 percent of which are First Place since 1997, admiration for this one-owner wonder extends to show judges and participants as well. Its eclectic mix of options and rare drivetrain assures this Ram Air IV GTO's place in Pontiac history.