At the age of 16, most of us wanted to own nothing less than a musclecar. The pinnacle of these machines is, of course, the GTO, and Steven Knisley found his '69 in Bellbrook, Ohio, in 1981.
It was listed in a local paper as a '79. While a '79 GTO would have been cool, it didn't exist. He almost missed it because of this, but it was indeed a '69. The asking price was a modest $300, so he and his father drove over to take a look. After a quick tour around the block, Dad knew the car was pretty special.
"I didn't know much about cars, musclecars, or Pontiacs. In fact, I didn't even have my driver's license yet," Steven recalls. "I just knew I had to have one." Unfortunately, several other parties were interested and the Knisleys found themselves in a bidding war over the Goat. Once the smoke cleared, their wallets were $425 lighter, and they had a rusty but running GTO to show for it.
The Warwick Blue Goat was missing a turn signal, and sported a red fender and a green front bumper. Under the hood was a 327 Chevy with an automatic in place of the original Pontiac 400 and four-speed. The mismatching continued with Chevy front hubcaps and Pontiacs in the rear.
The Warwick Blue paint is arguably one of the best-looking colors from Pontiac and suits t
For its first two weeks of ownership (until he got his license), the GTO sat in Steven's driveway. "I daydreamed about the future of the car and the adventures we were going to have together," Steven said. Afterward, in spite of its less-than-stellar appearance, he drove the car every day.
Its first paint job came while he was still in high school. His father traded a '69 El Camino to have the '69 GTO and his brother Randy's '68 GTO painted. This wasn't the best paint job in the world, but it was enough to entrust confidence that he was driving a nice GTO.
In 1984 his family moved down to Pinellas Park, Florida, where he and his brother became active in the car community. Steven soon realized that his GTO was a "musclecar reject" and that he didn't fit in. It was a Pontiac with a Chevy engine and the paint wasn't as smooth as glass. Discouraged, he and Randy started their own club, The St. Pete Goat Runners, and were soon recognized by the GTOAA.
"I continued to restore my GTO as I went along, and the paint was redone again in 1988," he says. "This was the first really good paint job and it cost about $1,000. Unfortunately, it only lasted for a few years." That's what happens when you drive your car every day.
Around the same time, the brothers came across a '68 GTO that was being parted out. "We jumped on this because there were a lot of parts we could use off the car. He wouldn't sell us the entire car because he had promised the scrap to a friend, so we took everything we could." He finally asked the man what he wanted for the engine and transmission, which happened to be a 400 and a four-speed. Steven's jaw dropped when he heard him say $40. The pair swapped the engine and trans into the '69 shortly after.
This Goat is doing what its owner built it for-cruising in comfort.
With presentable paint and a proper Pontiac powerplant, Steven started to fit in. He continued to drive his GTO everywhere until 1995 when it was relieved from daily-driver duties. From that point on, it was only driven occasionally and went with him when he moved. He says, "When I moved to New Hampshire from Boston, the furniture was in the front of the moving truck and the GTO was on the back. I continued to move around before returning to Florida in 1997, and the Pontiac came with me."
The Restoration Begins
In 2002 Steven began the next restoration on his GTO, selling his '00 Trans Am to free up money so that he could do it right. "The idea I had wasn't to restore it to the way it came from the factory, but to the way I would have ordered it." He had stockpiled options that he wanted to see added to his Goat, and he used the restoration as an opportunity to install them.
The Walnut shift knob was also an available option for '69.
In '69 the Endura bumper was said to have all its paint and fit issues resolved. The nose
Ram Air anyone?
When Steven found this GTO, it was powered by a tired Chevy 327 and backed by a slushbox.
Factory rocker switches were added for the newly-installed power antenna, rear window defr