"It all started in the summer of 1990," John Campbell tells HPP. "I had finished the restoration of our first '70 GTO convertible a couple of years earlier, and I spotted this one coming toward me. I had never seen this Pontiac around Aurora, Illinois, before, so I made a quick U-turn and followed it until it stopped at a mailbox a couple of blocks down. A nice older lady got out to mail some letters, so I jumped out, introduced myself, and asked about the car."

This is how 57-year-old John, the current owner of "2 HMBLR" (note the Illinois tag), describes his first experience with this striking '70 GTO. What follows is the chase that ensued and the process that led to the result you see here. It was not an easy or short chase-15 years to be exact (1990-2005). We suspect a person of lesser tact or patience would have missed out on this Goat.

John learned that the "little old lady" had purchased the Pontiac many years earlier as a birthday present for her husband, and it remained his pride and joy to that day. (So there is a "little old man" in this story, too!) She said he still drove it every chance he got, even in the winter, and polished it whenever he could. It was obvious that John's interest in the car had not raised questions in her mind about selling it. Dejected, John thanked her and offered assistance if they ever needed help locating parts or service.

He saw the Goat on and off again over the years and would occasionally see the gentleman polishing it in his driveway. In September 2002, the contractor John worked for secured a bid on a building directly across the street from the GTO's home. Part of John's responsibility involved checking on things at the job site. One day he was lucky enough to spot the old man out polishing the car, and of course, he had to go over and admire it once more.

In the ensuing conversation, John learned that the gentleman was now 89 years old and in failing health. As a result, he was required to relinquish his driver's license. When John expressed interest in the GTO and told the owner that if he should ever sell to him, the Pontiac would receive a loving home, he learned that the man's intention was to give it to his daughter.

Again dejected, John went back to his office and wrote a short letter reminding the gentleman of their conversation and wishing him well. That letter and John's manners may have had an important role in what followed.

Less than a week passed when he received a call from the gentleman who said he had reconsidered giving the GTO to his daughter, and it was John's if he was still interested. John said, "I thought long and hard-for about two seconds-before accepting." It was agreed that the older man would store the car over the winter as it was now November, and John would pick it up in the spring. Occasionally, John would stop by the building where it was stored and daydream about the next spring and summer.

Finally spring arrived, and after getting the drop-top home, its excited new owner began to clean the interior and verify the GTO's road worthiness, which had impressed him so much during his test drive months before.

He drove it regularly for the next few months, and then it happened. One September morning, he raised the garage door to find a puddle of antifreeze under the front of the car. It didn't take long to confirm the problem: It needed a new water pump. Sound familiar?