Tim Drain of Coal Valley, Illinois, is no stranger to performance Pontiacs. A retired journeymen painter for his local union, the now 66-year-old tells HPP, "I was always interested in Pontiacs. My dad owned a beautiful '62 Bonneville, and when the GTO debuted in 1964, I was very aware of it, but I had a family and needed practical transportation. A GTO was out of the question."
Though Tim continued to drive Pontiacs throughout the years, he never totally lost his lust for '64 GTOs and passed that onto his son. "My son, Tony, had a '73 LeMans that he drove daily while attending high school," he adds. "He also had a Marimba Red '64 GTO he sold when he began college. After graduating, he started looking for another and found a Grenadier Red '64 GTO in California. We restored the car together, and I began attending shows with him, and really enjoyed talking with fellow hobbyists."
A total of 32,450 GTOs were...
A total of 32,450 GTOs were produced in 1964, and this particular example is one of 18,422 hardtop models that were built. With just 8,446 miles on its odometer, Tim Drain of Coal Valley, Illinois, purchased it in 2004 and performed a complete restoration to repair rollover damage.
Then-19-year-old Berton Hatfield of Fairfield, Iowa, was also smitten by the '64 GTO's prowess, but unlike Tim, Berton didn't have family obligations to keep him from purchasing Pontiac's newest entry in the performance-car market. On January 27, 1964, he took delivery of a Starlight Black '64 GTO. Essentially a stripper with only a handful of options, including a four-speed manual transmission and a Safe-T-Track differential, Berton's hardtop model retailed for just under $3,350.
Local legend lends that he was somewhat of a hellion on wheels. It's said he drove the GTO exceptionally hard. The possible myth turned to fact on April 14, 1964: While trying to evade local law enforcement at a high rate of speed, Berton lost control of the GTO and exited the pavement, causing it to roll nine times before coming to rest on its wheels, according to witnesses. Miraculously, he and his female passenger escaped without serious injury, but his relatively new GTO was a total loss with just over 8,400 miles on its odometer.
The Next Owners
Fred Flinspach, a lifelong farmer in the Fairfield area, amassed a large collection of wrecked vehicles with plans of rebuilding each in his barn. He acquired Berton's damaged GTO on May 25, 1964, quickly replaced its bent frame, and began installing new replacement panels he bought for it. Like many other projects before, this one stalled, and the GTO sat dormant for the next four decades.
The GTO's suspension and hubcaps...
The GTO's suspension and hubcaps are completely original; the former includes HD springs and a 0.937-inch-diameter front sway bar. Since the factory-installed steel wheels were likely damaged during the crash, they were replaced with a set of powdercoated units shod with 7.50x14 white-lined repro tires. A 3.23:1 gearset and Safe-T-Track differential reside within the original 10-bolt rear axle. Red-painted accents within the chrome taillight bezels are original and in excellent condition; so are the taillight lenses and a majority of the polished tail-panel trim. The original rear bumper was damaged during the wreck and replaced by a good used unit Tim purchased at the same time he bought the GTO. Back-up lights added nearly $13 to the price tag.
In 2004 after Fred passed away, his family approached Mecum Auction to sell the tractors, vehicles, and N.O.S. parts he had accumulated over the years. "My longtime friend Larry Flowers lives in West Burlington, Iowa, and saw the auction billing in his local newspaper," recalls Tim. "Knowing of my interest in cars, he suggested we venture out to the farm to see what was being offered."
Upon arriving at the preview, Tim was astonished at what he found-there were at least 250 vehicles in various conditions, five of which were '64 GTOs. "There [was] also a ton of new and good used parts that Fred had purchased to repair the cars in the collection, but most anything that wasn't bolted onto a vehicle was auctioned off separately. I was very excited and immediately went to the bank to free up some funds," he said.
With the intent of buying a GTO to further his son's project, Tim says, "I knew the black GTO had only 8,400 miles on its odometer, and it was complete, so I bought it planning to part it out, saving the good pieces for my son's car. It included N.O.S. doors and boxes of small parts.
"Once I got it home and started disassembling the car, it just screamed 'restore me.' I considered how much I enjoyed attending shows with my son and thought the GTO was worth restoring, so the project began."
The Starlight Black finish on the GTO's right quarter-panel, roof, and trunk area remained glossy, but the hood and decklid were damaged and therefore replaced with used units that came with the car. N.O.S. doors were in their original primer and had a slight amount of surface rust, but the car was otherwise rust-free. "My daughter lives in Arizona," Tim says, "and during visits to that area, I'd often visit local salvage yards searching for rust-free sheetmetal and trim. Among what I found was a pair of rust-free front fenders and a nice front bumper."