Introduced in 1963 for the...
Introduced in 1963 for the 421 H.O., the No. 716 cylinder heads were also used on the GTO in 1964. Containing 1.92/1.66-inch valves, the castings produce a 10.75:1 compression ratio on the 389ci. The owner reports this pair is completely original save for one set of valves.
Father and son completely disassembled the GTO and delivered a rolling chassis to D&H Body in Green River, Illinois, where the body shell was separated from the frame. "We took the frame home for detailing while D&H repaired and refinished the body," Tim says. "It was stripped to bare metal, and the spot welds that fastened the left quarter-panel, roof, and firewall were drilled, the pieces straightened or replaced with rust-free sheetmetal." The repaired body was then covered in high-build primer, and the exterior refinished with several coats of DuPont Chromabase Starlight Black and high-gloss clear.
While the bodywork was being performed, Tim had the frame powdercoated by House of Powder in Standard, Illinois. "All of the original suspension components were powdercoated, too, and we added new rubber bushings," he says. Once the framework was complete, it was sent back to D&H for reuniting with the body. Tim and Tony then brought the GTO home for final assembly, which included reinstalling the original engine and transmission.
The numbers "2237" and "20"...
The numbers "2237" and "20" were hand-written on the firewall during assembly, and these, too, were replicated during the restoration. The "2237" indicates to assembly-line workers that this vehicle was a LeMans (GTO was an option in '64), while "20" most likely indicates the vehicle was equipped with an M20 manual transmission.
As with on other cars in his collection, Fred's son routinely removed the 389's spark plugs, oiled down its cylinders, and spun it over by hand. "I feel this is why the engine wasn't frozen when we purchased it," Tim says. "In fact, it fired right up when we tried starting it before tearing the car apart, but we found that one cylinder was down on compression, so I removed the heads and had them checked. We had to replace a set of valves due to moisture damage."
Knowing the engine sat for nearly 40 years, Tim was concerned that the original rear main seal had shrunk with age. "I thought it would leak oil after sitting for long, so we raised the crankshaft only high enough to replace the rear main with a modern unit. The engine is otherwise completely untouched and retains its original spark plugs, wires, and contact points set. Like the rear axle, the transmission was thoroughly cleaned and filled with fresh lubricant, but both remain completely original."
Engine-turned aluminum instrument-panel...
Engine-turned aluminum instrument-panel trim was a GTO exclusive in 1964. The odometer shows 8,449 miles, while an in-dash tachometer, which was a $53 option, occupies the far right position of the instrument cluster. You might notice the distorted appearance of the padded upper dashpanel near the A-pillar. It occurred when the vehicle rolled and serves as a remembrance to the event.
The Finishing Touches
Tim tells HPP that the GTO's black, vinyl interior is also original. "Though the seats were stored indoors, the carpet was left in the vehicle while it sat and had acquired a distinct barnyard odor. Also, the factory-installed headliner was torn, so both pieces were replaced with reproductions. Berton and his friend must've been drinking soda pop or malts during the rollover, because we had to clean something off the seats. Everything was otherwise exceptionally clean."
Fuel left in the tank over the years had turned to varnish. "Though I priced having the tank cleaned, it was cheaper to purchase a replacement," Tim tells HPP. "I reused the original sending unit but replaced all the fuel and brake lines with stainless steel pieces. I also planned to have the wheel cylinders sleeved, but the machinist said they were like new and needed only honing and new seals. The brake drums didn't require any machining either. In fact, the original shoes are still on the car."
The original exhaust system was on the GTO when Tim purchased it, but the pipes had grown rusty and the mufflers had holes in them. "I saved the original pieces but replaced the entire system with a kit from The Parts Place. It fit the original hangers well and sounds good, too," he says.