For '70, Pontiac produced 40,149 GTOs,but only 4,146 of them came equipped with the 455 H.
When you think of San Francisco, what comes to mind? Sourdough bread, cable-driven trolley cars, or the ever-constant fear of earthquakes? To Paul Lesiczka, a 45-year-old union sheetmetal worker in Plaistow, New Hampshire, the City by the Bay instantly brings to mind a three-number/three-letter combination: 455 GTO.
"My '70 GTO was sold new in the heart of San Francisco," Lesiczka told HPP. "It's a true California car and has its California-only smog-equipment still attached and working."
Painted in Granada Gold, a '70-only color option, the GTO was special ordered by 67-year-old Ree Oliver Casentini of Burlingame, California (coincidentally, he lived on a street called Granada Drive), and built at the Fremont Assembly Plant on November 6, 1969. Shortly thereafter, it was delivered to Boas Pontiac in San Francisco and prepped for its new owner.
The GTO came loaded with the options that make every Pontiac fan envious. Of course, there's the famous L75 455 H.O. D-port mill, rated at 370 hp and offered for the first time in '70. Other options include (A01) tinted glass, (A31) power windows, (C60) air conditioning, (D55) a floor console, (JL1) pedal polish trim, (JL2), power front disc brakes, (N33) a tilt steering column, (N34) a Sport steering wheel, (N41) power steering, (N98) Rally II wheels, (U35) an electric clock, (WS6) the power assist group, (W63) a Rally gauge and clock cluster, and (Y96) firm ride and handling.
Though Casentini has passed, the story of his love for this GTO was handed down to the second and third owners, and finally to Lesiczka. "The original owner kept his GTO for 25 years and was often seen driving in San Francisco with a peculiar habit. He kept one foot barely on the brake at all times, and so the GTO always had its brake lights on," Lesiczka said. "Nathan D. Bemont, of Mooresville, Indiana, a San-Francisco-based airline pilot, saw the GTO often, and one day in the late-'80s, he gave Casentini, then 90 years old, his phone number in case he wanted to sell. Casentini told him his GTO was not for sale, but he gave the pilot's name and phone number to his wife."
Check out the reproduction Goodyear Polyglas G70-14 tires, wrapped around original JL-code
"Seven years later, Casentini's wife gave Bemont a call. She explained that at 97, it was getting harder for her husband to drive the GTO. She offered the car and he bought it. That was 1993," Lesiczka said.
The GTO changed hands in 1999 to George Visnick of Avon, Indiana, another airplane pilot, and then again in July 2004, to Frank Tobin, a friend of Lesiczka.
"Frank knew how much I love Pontiacs and we restored the GTO together in his home garage over the next two years. His expertise led the project, and I learned from him as we went," Lesiczka said.
Because the GTO had been a California car for most of its life, there was absolutely no rust damage. The men decided on a frame-off restoration with the intent of returning the GTO to how it looked when new.
They took the body off the frame, stripped the frame of its suspension components, and then sandblasted it until bare. The men used PPG DP90 epoxy primer followed by Dupont Black Satin paint to restore its factory look. Then they glassbead-blasted the suspension components, primed them with SEM Self-Etching Primer, painted them with Satin Black, and reinstalled them on the painted frame.
Next, they stripped the body to bare metal using aircraft-paint stripper; it was then that Lesiczka was pleasantly surprised. "I saw things that I had never seen before on any Pontiac I have ever restored, including original spot welds, factory lap seams, and factory firewall markings. It was amazing to witness a 34-year-old Pontiac with its sheetmetal still looking like brand-new," he said. Afterwards, the men put the body on a rotisserie and sandblasted its bottom, followed by more priming and painting.
Though this GTO didn't come with a hood tachometer, the owner added a factory-correct unit
This GTO earned a Concours Gold Award at the 2008 GTOAA Nationals, scoring 385/400 points.
The YA-code 455 features a 4.15 x 4.21 bore/stroke and is rated at 360 hp. It's augmented