Owning a unique Pontiac brings with it certain required tasks-like explaining on a regular basis that, "Yes it's real," and "Yes, Pontiac did build it that way." Such is the case of Stephen L. Martin, who in his childhood saw and fell in love with the '69 GTO in the Fall Car Preview in Look Magazine. By 1981, Stephen was on the hunt for a '69 ragtop and was ecstatic to find this one in the Old Car Trader.

He was drawn to its arm's-length list of options but hardly noticed the rare color at the time. Upon closer inspection, he learned that the GTO was in fair driver condition but was all original, so he paid the second owner $2,800 for it (sigh) and brought it back to his Brier, Washington, home.

Taking the advice of his local Northwest GTO Legends club members, Stephen contacted Pontiac customer service (pre-PHS). "My GTO was originally ordered by the Montebello California Pontiac Zone (24) office," he says. "It was built on May 20, 1969, and was owned by Pontiac for nine months before being sold through Jewel Meyer Pontiac on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood in February 1970." That would explain the options, and, quite possibly, the special-order Carousel Red paint that Stephen would later realize most people believe was only available on the Judge in 1969.

With an original base price of $3,548 for the GTO convertible, options like the Ram Air III 400, automatic trans, console, Safe-T-Track differential, AM/FM stereo, tape player, door edge guards, hideaway headlights, remote-control driver's outside rearview mirror, Deluxe seatbelts and front shoulder belts, Rally II wheels, Custom Sport steering wheel, hood-mounted tach, Rally gauges with clock, power steering, tilt steering, power front disc brakes, Soft Ray Glass all windows, power driver's seat, A/C, Ride and Handling package, front and rear floor mats, cornering lamps, luggage lamp, and underhood lamp, this Goat's price increased by $2,112.72 to $5,661.65 in 1969 dollars.

Included in that tally were two more options that have led to some controversy over why this GTO was equipped as it was. Stephen says he learned from a magazine article that you couldn't order a Judge with the rear-mounted power-antenna option because it interfered with the decklid spoiler. This GTO has one. Thanks to the $100.05 SPS Solid Special Tone Paint option Code 72, Carousel Red is this Goat's original hue.

Given the way this Pontiac was equipped, the only Judge items missing are the option name and code on the buildsheet and the spoiler, stripes, and callouts. One thing this GTO convertible does have that the Judge doesn't is that rear-mounted power antenna.

Nevertheless, Stephen got a fantastic, rare GTO for a great price back in the Reagan era and he has refused to part with it since. Some resto work was performed back in 1982 and he had it painted red, but by 2000 it was due for restoration. Now knowing how rare the original color was on a non-Judge, this time it would be painted Carousel Red.

After a misstep with another restorer, Stephen went to Bothell Auto Rebuild & Collision in the town of the same name. A testament to Stephen's care of the GTO in the soggy Pacific Northwest is that no body panels needed to be replaced for the '00 resto. The restorer simply beadblasted the body to bare metal, repaired the dings and minor rust, and repainted it. PPG products were used throughout, including four coats of primer, a single coat of sealer, four coats of Deltron base in GM code 72 Carousel Red, and four coats of clear. Thousand-grit wetsanding was performed after each application of paint, and 1,500-2,000 grit was used for final wetsanding, prior to applying Mequiars and 3M polishing products.