If automotive hobbyists didn't have aspirations, there'd certainly be far fewer vehicles for us to view at today's events. Though the dreams of some might include a freshly restored numbers-matching R/A-IV GTO or Super Duty Trans Am that's ready for concourse-type competition, others may be happier with a tastefully modified Pontiac that better represents its owner's visions and attitude. The latter definitely describes this '62 Grand Prix owned by Ron Kintz of Uniontown, Ohio.
The 43-year-old customer-support specialist's first brush with Pontiacs came in the '80s when he owned a Pro Street '71 Firebird. "I loved that car, but I sold it in the fall of 1994 to pay off debts when I got married and bought a house," Ron says. "A few months later, I purchased a '70 Catalina. It was all stock, but I upgraded the sound system. Though it was a nice car and I drove it for about a year and a half, it wasn't what I really wanted. I had to have another Pro Street car."
Ron supplied Tin Indian Performance...
Ron supplied Tin Indian Performance with a stock '70 455. In return, he received a 469ci engine with 11:1 compression that generated 550 hp at 5,300 rpm and 584 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm on pump gas as measured on KRE's engine dyno. Peak power was achieved with 32 degrees of spark lead.
"In the spring of 1996," Ron says, "my friend Bill Brautigam and I spotted a '62 Pontiac on a trailer at a swap meet. I always liked the early '60s big cars and didn't realize at the time that it was a Grand Prix. I just figured it was a Catalina and might make a good Pro Street project, but I had no real intention of buying it since I still had my '70 Catalina."
The next several weeks were difficult for Ron as dreams of a modified '62 Pontiac danced in his head. Unable to attend every area swap meet, he asked friends to keep an eye out for the car. He even sent pictures of various '62 Pontiac models with them for verification, but they all came up empty-handed. In August of that same year, Bill phoned Ron to tell him of a '62 Grand Prix advertised in the classifieds of his local newspaper. The two made arrangements to see the car and were astonished upon arrival to find the same Pontiac that was kindling Ron's Pro-Street dreams.
"We took a better look at it this time and found that most every body panel was rusty or dented," Ron says. "It sat next to a building that had caught fire. The left-front fender and door were severely discolored, and the engine compartment wiring was melted. On a stand next to the car, while the transmission remained in it and was held up with a wire, was the original 389ci. I made an offer that the owner said was too low, and we left thinking that it just wasn't meant to be."
Not easily discouraged, Ron let a week pass before calling the owner again and offering $1,300. "This time he said to come get it," Ron says. The following weekend with truck and trailer, Bill and Ron set out to pick up this latest acquisition, and with the help of a few willing neighbors, the group pushed the Grand Prix onto the trailer. "I really didn't have the space to work on it at my house," Ron says, "so Bill offered to take it to his garage, and that's where most of the work was completed over the next few years."
After the two stripped the Grand Prix to a bare shell, the body and frame were separated. The frame was then sandblasted and the body's rocker panels were repaired before the two were reunited and the major work began. "I ordered a back-half four-link kit from CA Chassisworks in Sacramento, California," Ron says. "It included just about everything needed except the sheetmetal. We started by removing the entire floor and cutting the frame ahead of the rear wheels. After installing the crossmember and rear framerails, we figured out how wide the rear wheels were going to be, mocked up the Ford 9-inch rearend and suspension, and installed the wheel tubs. We made our own floor pieces including the driveshaft tunnel, and raised the floor so it was even with the tops of the rockers to ensure there was enough underbody room for the exhaust."
The suspension was rebuilt...
The suspension was rebuilt using a plethora of new components. Stock front springs were reused, but not before a full coil was removed from each to achieve the desired body rake. Monroe gas shocks reside up front, while Koni coilovers were teamed with an entire back-half kit from CA Chassisworks at the rear.
With the chassis work complete, Jim Stallard of Stallard Performance in Akron, Ohio, began repairing the Grand Prix's body and modifying the interior metal. "The left-front fender and door, and right-side rocker were replaced," Ron says. "Any rusty areas Jim found were cut out and new metal was welded in. The rear-wheel openings were enlarged 2 inches to accommodate the wider tires, and he shaved the door handles. He also removed the heater controls, filled all of the unused holes on the dash, and smoothed the firewall by removing all of the irregular shapes and welding in flat pieces."
After prepping the body for paint, Jim applied two coats of PPG primer and sealer before four coats of PPG Electric Green Metallic base and three coats of PPG clear. The clear topcoat was wet-sanded with 1,500- and 2,000-grit paper and then machine-buffed, giving the finish its mile-deep, mirror-like appearance.
Ron purchased a polishing kit and began restoring the Grand Prix's stainless trim. "The pot-metal pieces were pretty badly pitted, so I spent many nights surfing the Internet for replacements," he says. "I had some pieces rechromed, and those along with the bumpers were sent to Keystone Chrome in Cleveland, Ohio. It took about three years to get the entire project to this point since most of the work was done in the evenings and weekends."
As with most young hobbyists with families, Ron had to divert available funds towards other facets, which virtually halted the Grand Prix's progress for a short time. "My family was growing and we had just had our third child, so things slowed down a bit," he says.
For the next several years, the project sat dormant in Bill's garage, and during that time Ron purchased a new home that included additional garage space. In August 2003, the project was brought home and work resumed. It was, however, at a snail's pace. "I completed a few small projects when I had the time and money," he says, "but in the spring of 2005 I made a promise to myself-I had spent the weekend at a car show without my car and knew that it would be the last time. The car had to be done by the spring of 2006."
The floor-mounted Precision...
The floor-mounted Precision Products ratcheting shifter controls a Turbo-400 transmission built by Cliff Ruggles of Cliff's High Performance in Mount Vernon, Ohio. Features include a TransGo shift kit, a 3,200-stall torque converter from Continental Converters in Inglewood, California, and a transmission-fluid cooler from B&M Products. Output is transferred through a modified driveshaft to the Ford 9-inch rear axle that boasts a Detroit Locker differential, Moser axles, and 4.11 gears.
In addition to the factory...
In addition to the factory speedometer, Auto Meter's 2.625-inch diameter coolant-temperature and oil-pressure gauges, and 5-inch-diameter tachometer are used to monitor engine vitals. The steering wheel is from Rex Marine in San Dimas, California, and its leather covering was dyed green to match the interior.
Marilynn Jarvis of Miracles...
Marilynn Jarvis of Miracles Upholstery in Akron, Ohio, created the tasteful combination of green tweed and gray leather, and designed the Indian head and arrowhead inserts. The seats were pirated from a Fiero and feature headrest-mounted speakers that project output from the Custom Autosound stereo. The 10-point rollcage was included in the CA Chassisworks kit, and the two-point seatbelts are from RJS Racing Equipment in Hazel Park, Michigan.