In hiding for more than 30 years and found on a bank repo lot, the original '69 Ray Faro P
If you ever get the chance to meet Chuck Henley in person, be sure to bring a lottery ticket with you and rub it on his forehead-he's just about the luckiest guy we've ever heard of. How lucky is he? How about this: In September 2005, he purchased a rust-free '69 GTO Judge for just $4,600. Yeah, that lucky. Before we get ahead of ourselves, though, let's start at the beginning.
Henley, who already had a Carousel Red '69 Judge, was talking with one of his neighbors outside his home in Uniontown, Ohio. The neighbor said, "I saw a car just like yours parked at a bank repo lot across town. You ought to go check it out." Without saying another word, Chuck blasted over to the repo lot, looked over the car, and was convinced it was a real GTO Judge. Under the hood, though, was a garden-variety 400, something that was obviously transplanted some time in its distant past.
The Judge's original race livery was replicated from photos by the talented team at Z&Z Re
The Judge was actually in pretty decent shape, though it looked as if it had been in storage for a long time. It was nearly devoid of rust, and the odometer showed just 54 miles. While most people would assume the odometer was on its second or third trip around, the very clean interior indicated this might be a legitimate number. With the swapped-out engine, nearly mint interior, and ridiculously low mileage, Chuck made an educated guess and figured it was probably an old race car. If so, he just might have a megascore waiting to happen.
"I went over to the auction and got lucky," Chuck says. "I was able to get the Judge for just $4,600. The thing was, I brought $40,000 in cash with me-I was bringing that car home, no matter what." Now there's a determined Pontiac man if there ever was one.
Chuck's hunch proved to be on the money, perhaps even more than he realized. When he got the PHS documentation on the car, he nearly passed out. It was a real Judge alright, and then some. Remember we said he was lucky? It turns out this was a factory Ram Air IV car built under special memo instructions-the race-car hunch was pretty well nailed with that revelation.
The current Ram Air V engine uses a '70 400 Ram Air V block with the top end from one of t
It was time to start pounding the pavement to find out the story on the car. The first clue was the shipping manifest from PHS. In addition to itemizing the few options ordered, it also indicated that the Judge was delivered to Ray Faro Pontiac in Elyria, Ohio.
Unfortunately, none of the locals "in the know" remembered the car, but one of Chuck's friends, Bruce Mihalak, lived about an hour away, near Elyria. At Chuck's request, he started asking around. Bruce's research into the local scene turned up the name of Dave Weber, owner of Weber Racing Equipment in North Ridgeville. He built the engines for Ray Faro back in 1969; Elyria is the next town over from North Ridgeville, so he was right near the dealership. Weber remembered the Judge and said that it wasn't just delivered to Ray Faro Pontiac-it was raced by the dealership for at least two seasons.
At the same time, Chuck contacted Pete Woodruff, owner of Super Duty Promotions and one of the most knowledgeable Pontiac guys in the country. He didn't know of the car personally but he did take an interest in the story-how many GTO Judges are left that still have less than 100 miles on the clock?
Pete ran an "information wanted" ad in the local POCI newsletter, and it turned up a gentleman by the name of Dennis Landers, who worked at Ray Faro Pontiac in 1969 as a mechanic. Ray had since passed away, but Dennis put Chuck in touch with Ray's son, Jeff, who was still in the area and owned a gas station. Jeff put Chuck in touch with his cousin Eddie Faro, who had been the dealership's service manager and team driver.