A total of 75,352 GTOs were...
A total of 75,352 GTOs were produced in 1965, and this pair is among the 11,311 convertibles built that year. Just over one-fourth of total GTO production had Tri-Power engines in 1965, but there's no telling how many were installed into convertibles.
Ambrose Claybar, of Orange, Texas, and Bruce Ling, of New York City, New York, are two hobbyists who did not know each other, yet they shared a similar vision of owning, in their opinion, Pontiac's most beautiful Tiger-a '65 GTO. "I own a '64 GTO, but '65s are really my love," said Ambrose. "I had to have one, and started looking for a highly-optioned example." Bruce shared a similar sentiment. "The '65 GTO has always been my favorite. I've owned a few over the years, and just can't get enough of them."
After hearing those comments, it should come as no surprise that both men jumped at separate opportunities to purchase such unique '65 GTO convertibles. Both vehicles needed serious restorations, and it was this fact that caused the men's paths to cross, ultimately bringing their GTOs together.
Jim Mott of Jim Mott Restorations in Kimberly, Idaho, is considered by many to be among the best GTO restorers in the country. His work has graced the pages of HPP in the past, and it has yet to disappoint. Ambrose's and Bruce's individual endeavors led them and their GTOs to Jim's shop for expert restorations. Today, these two beautiful Pontiacs are nothing short of spectacular.
Ambrose told HPP that his search for a '65 GTO convertible led him to a collector-car advertisement in a large auto trader-type publication in 2001. "When I responded, I found the gentleman who placed the ad didn't actually own the cars, but instead sold them on consignment. He told me about a loaded '65 GTO convertible in Atlanta, Georgia, that he was selling, and that piqued my interest."
Over the course of a few discussions, Ambrose learned the owner's name and immediately attempted to locate him. "There were several 'John Eatons' in the Atlanta phone book, and I tried each until I found the right one. I learned that the car had sat outside for 30 years, and was totally covered by leaves. I requested pictures, and what I saw was really rough, but it was loaded with factory options including Tri-Power, a four-speed transmission, and air conditioning. I knew it would take a lot of work, but I felt that this was the right car for me."
Searching for a restoration professional to expertly restore a vehicle can be a worrisome task, and Ambrose wasn't about to entrust his latest possession to just anyone. "I wanted the car to look as good as the day it rolled off the assembly line, so my wife and I attended the 2001 GTOAA Nationals in Red Wing, Minnesota, to get ideas. I heard that Jim Mott was one of the best in the country, and he was there with a '65 GTO he had just restored. I introduced myself to him, and explained my car's condition. He agreed to take on the project and, in March 2002, drove to Atlanta to pick it up for me."
When Jim arrived in Atlanta to take possession of Ambrose's GTO, he found that the car wasn't alone. He said, "It was with 14 other GTOs in a heavily-wooded area that a developer purchased to build new homes on. Among them were several '64 and '65 GTO hardtops and convertibles, and at least one Judge. They all had plates that dated back to the early '70s. The developer literally gave them to a local-areacollector for simply hauling them off the land. They were quickly sold or parted out."
The Montero Red GTO literally...
The Montero Red GTO literally arrived in pieces.
Ambrose Claybar purchased...
Ambrose Claybar purchased this Blue Charcoal '65 GTO convertible in late 2001. He found that it was first shipped to Pontiac's Houston Zone office where it was used by a Pontiac executive as a company vehicle, and it was then sent to a dealership for retail sale. That might explain its 34 factory-installed options.
This is what the Blue Charcoal...
This is what the Blue Charcoal GTO looked like when it arrived at Jim's shop.
Once Jim got into the project, he found that the GTO was heavily rusted. "It was pretty bad, but it's what you might expect to see from a vehicle that had sat outside for so long," he said. "We replaced the floor with original rust-free sheetmetal, and Ambrose purchased a host of N.O.S. pieces, including fenders and quarter panels, to properly finish the body."
After the body was entirely stripped and the necessary repairs made, Mott primed and painted the underbody, frame, and suspension components with PPG products, and sanded them using 320- and 500-grit paper. The exterior was treated to four coats of PPG Blue Charcoal base, and five coats of PPG clear. The topcoat was wet-sanded numerous times with papers ranging from 600- to 2,500-grit, and polished to a mirror-like appearance.
The blue interior kit was...
The blue interior kit was purchased from Legendary Auto Interiors, and the painted surfaces were coated in original lacquer. A four-speed Hurst shifter is connected to a Muncie-built M20 wide-ratio trans, and on the opposite end of that is a Safe-T-Track differential with an axle ratio of 3.23:1-the only one available with A/C. Other options include tilt wheel, console, front and rear floor mats, and lamp group.
It's hard to imagine that...
It's hard to imagine that just a few years ago, this engine compartment was completely filled with debris, and was once home to a possum. The WS-code 389ci engine with Tri-Power induction is among the myriad options this GTO was equipped with. The mill was factory rated at 360 hp, boasts of a No. 068 camshaft and 10.75:1 compression, and is fed by three Rochester carburetors-Nos. 7025178 (front), 7025175 (center), and 7025179 (rear). Most of the original air conditioning components were replaced with N.O.S. pieces during the restoration. The coil, spark plug wires, carburetor tags and linkages, and valve covers are the GTO's originals.
A countless number of N.O.S....
A countless number of N.O.S. body and trim pieces were gathered to complete the flawless restoration. Subsequently, the GTO was awarded Best of Show at the 2007 GTOAA Nationals.