What would you do if your project expectations exceeded your skill set? Most people would dial back the project, but not John and Peggy Sieffert of Troy, Michigan. They took another path and enlisted a shop so talented that it was able to realize the couple's dream for their '67 GTOs-and then some. The results are worthy of a Champagne toast and Concours gold.
How It Began
John and Peggy own a commendable stable of various-brand classic muscle machines, but, of these fine pavement pounders, this '67 GTO and a matching convertible stand out above the rest as two great examples of attention to detail.
Look, Ma, no wires. The theme...
Look, Ma, no wires. The theme of this build up was to make the GTO look like a Concours restoration with the added cache of cleaning up areas normally found on a stock car that detract from the overall appearance, like underhood wiring and AC hoses and lines. To that end, Run Rite Classics hand-built a smooth firewall, smoothed the inner fenders and the core support, and hid all of the aforementioned items so the 0.030-over 400 could shine more brightly. Note the trick BG linkage on the induction system and Run Rite's custom throttle bracket.
First, let's rewind to their purchase of a '64 GTO, which led them to the '67s.
In early 2007, John and Peggy attended the Mecum Auction in Kissimmee, Florida. While perusing the car field, a fine-looking '64 GTO caught their eyes. "We both noticed this car on the first day of the auction and kept revisiting it," he explains. "During that time, we had a good chance to inspect it very closely and meet the sellers who restored it, Chuck and Debbie Woolery, the owners and operators of Run Rite Classics in Houghton Lake, Michigan."
John and Peggy were impressed with the '64 and they ultimately placed the highest bid. They were also well on their way to developing a strong friendship with Chuck and Debbie.
The Barry Grant Six-Shooter...
The Barry Grant Six-Shooter Tri-Power system features three Demon two-barrel carbs, flowing 250 cfm each, mounted to an intake with larger ports than a factory unit, and it's made from lighter aluminum. The intake on Peggy's '67 was painted to match the Pontiac block and could easily fool onlookers into believing it to be a genuine factory part. Once the Pontiac fires up, you can clearly hear the indications of a hotter camshaft and aggressive exhaust system.
When John and Peggy began to show it off at shows, they didn't expect just how much attention it would draw. "We received numerous awards and favorable comments with the '64," says John. "Because of this car, we have become more aware of the GTO and the Pontiac brand, and we're now true Pontiac loyalists!" With the conversion complete, they were seeking another GTO to add to their fleet.
Finding The Car
Having been fans of the early Goats, John was itching to do a '67 this time. They decided to top off their collection with a pair of '67 GTOs-a convertible and a hardtop, his and hers. Instead of buying a completed car, however, they would have Chuck and Debbie restore and modify both cars to their liking. "At this point, Chuck and I went looking for the two project cars," says John.
Though offered as a regular...
Though offered as a regular production exterior color back in '67, the Champagne hue is seldom seen on GTOs. That's one of the reasons why it was chosen for this one; contrasting it with a Red interior was the other.
They found Peggy's hardtop near Phoenix in September 2007 and discovered it was originally a rust-free Nevada car. A restoration had been started but was never completed, so it was listed as ready for paint. "The chrome and trim were removed and the body was in prime," John recalls. Once purchased, the GTO was torn down, with the chassis going out for media-blasting, and the body heading to Run Rite to begin the initial bodywork.
When it finally arrived at the shop, it wasn't as ready for paint as they had anticipated-at least, not to Run Rite Classic's standards. The company's bodyman, Chris Fenton, began to correct the previous bodywork. He replaced the front floorpans and trunk floor, while Les Hawkins, the in-house fabricator, made a smooth firewall and replacement panels for the bottoms of the fenders and quarter-panels.
Once Chris was finished with the rough work, Jim Tanney, the in-house finish coachbuilder, went over the Pontiac with a fine-tooth comb and made sure every gap was within 4 mm.
All About The Paint
While this '67 may be numbers-matching,...
While this '67 may be numbers-matching, the 14x6-inch original Hurst wheels, wearing Diamond Back Classic Redlines in 225/70R14, are not. They certainly give the car a vintage, mild mod flavor.
The GTO was sprayed with two coats of Evercoat Polyester Slicksand primer, block-sanded with 80-grit, sprayed with two more coats, and block-sanded with 120-grit. After this, the body was ready for four coats of PPG K38 polyurethane primer and 220-grit block-sanding. The gaps and bodylines were finalized after Jim sanded the GTO with 320- and 600-grit. "Now the car was ready for paint," he jests.
By this time, John and Chuck had found the '67 convertible that would become John's car. Peggy's was already deep into the restoration and ready for paint. When the color combination was discussed, John and Peggy were undecided. Chuck had convinced the two that if they were building his-and-hers cars, they should be matching colors, so Tyrol Blue was chosen.
"Several months into the project I had my doubts about this," says Peggy. When Debbie came up with a unique combination of Champagne exterior and Red interior, Peggy was back on board. "We had never seen a Champagne GTO, let alone one with a red interior," Peggy says. "It was hard to perceive how it would look, but once we saw it in person it exceeded any expectations we had."
While this GTO's factory Parchment...
While this GTO's factory Parchment interior would look outstanding in its own right, Debbie Woolery-responsible for color combinations and final approval of projects at Run Rite-was right on with Regimental Red. It required an extensive revamp inside by Bone'A'Fied Interiors, using new parts from Legendary Auto Interiors. An aftermarket wood wheel was installed for a better grip.
Jim started with a single medium coat of PPG DAS3025 Deltron sealer that he misted on before applying three coats of PPG Deltron basecoat. "Before the final basecoat was sprayed, I inspected the car and took out any imperfections and dirt with 1,000-grit," he says.
After the final color coat, eight coats of PPG Deltron Clear 4000 (DC4000) were applied. "I don't like to sand between coats because you take the chance of trapping sanding scratches under the top clear," Jim says. Once the clear was dry, he began the hardest part-the final wet-sanding -as he started with 600-grit and stepped to 800-, 1,000-, 1,500-, 2,000-, and finally 2,500-grit.
It didn't end there, however, as Jim applied 3M 3000 ExtraCut Perfect-It compound three times, a fine compound three times, and finally, three applications of a foam glaze.
Pontiac's accessory vacuum...
Pontiac's accessory vacuum gauge is right at home on the console.
With part of the Run Rite crew busy with the paint and bodywork, Chuck was working with Red Kirbitz to rebuild the chassis, which had come back from media blasting. The idea was to restore the suspension using bushings and springs from Moog and to make mild mods to improve drivability, like a front-disc-brake swap, ACDelco gas shocks, and a quicker-ratio power steering box with 2.9 turns to lock. Once dry, the newly painted body was ready to be lowered onto the fresh chassis.
It's What You Don't See
"I decided that I wanted to do something differently with this project, something that would set our cars apart from all other 'restored-to-original' cars," John says. "When you pop the hood and see the wires and hoses everywhere, it clutters the engine compartment and resembles a spaghetti jungle." He wanted to not only restore the car for beauty, hence the meticulous paint and bodywork, but give the engine compartment a clean and distinctive look. In addition to the smooth firewall, this included hiding all the wiring and installing a Classic Auto Air A/C system.
Since Les had already fabricated the firewall, Chuck took the clean, smooth look to another level. The Classic Auto Air was carefully ducted so that none of its tubing can be seen inside the car or under the hood. The heater box was relocated while remaining fully functional and the battery was tucked away in the trunk to keep it out of plain sight.
Engine And Drivetrain
Meanwhile, the original code-WT 400 engine was sent to Rick Buss for machine work at his shop including a 0.030-overbore. Once the block was back at Run Rite, Chuck and Rick began to assemble the engine, starting with TRW flat-top cast pistons, stock rods, and the stock crank. An Elgin hydraulic cam with 288/298 duration, 0.444/0.466 lift with 1.5:1 rockers, and a 112-degree lobe separation angle was installed. The rebuilt original "670" heads with 2.11/1.77 valves were then bolted on with Crane springs installed to handle the more aggressive cam. For increased performance and a clean appearance, a Barry Grant Six-Shooter fuel-induction system was added.
The Classic Auto Air controls...
The Classic Auto Air controls blend into the dash without looking like an aftermarket afterthought.
The ignition was converted to an electronic system, and black ACCEL Superstock 8mm wires, were partially hidden by Chuck with chrome trim pieces. Ceramic-coated Ram Air manifolds with 2.5-inch coated pipes, an X-crossover, and Goerlich XLerator mufflers make the Pontiac sound incredible. Behind the revived engine was a four-speed, but John and Peggy decided to swap transmissions between their cars, leaving Peggy with the self-shifting Turbo 400. Run Rite rebuilt it to factory specifications and installed a Hurst His-and-Hers shifter. Once the appropriate gear has engaged, the power is sent through the original 10-bolt, now fitted with an Auburn posi and 3.55 gears.
While the mechanical work was being done, Bone'A'Fied Interiors from Flint, Michigan, came into the Run Rite shop to transform the cabin. A reproduction Regimental Red interior from Legendary Auto Interiors replaced the original Parchment pieces. Before the seats were recovered, Bone'A'Fide rebuilt the frames and mechanisms to restore their structural integrity. The door panels, headliner, and dash were also sourced from Legendary, and sometime subsequent to our photoshoot the original gauges were replaced with Dakota Digital dials set into the stock dash facia.
Bone'A'Fied Interiors treated...
Bone'A'Fied Interiors treated the trunk to a custom covering embroidered with the GTO logo.
With 2,000 hours of work finally completed, the Siefferts took delivery. Six months later (and after our HPP photoshoot), the convertible was finished as well. On its own, this '67 is an excellent example of masterful attention to detail. Alongside John's convertible, however, the matching '67s steal the show wherever they go. At its debut in 2009, the hardtop took home Concours Modified Gold at the GTOAA Nationals, where it competed with some of the best the hobby has to offer. Also in 2009, the Goat won Class Act at Joliet and Best in Show at the Chicago Area Cruisin' Tigers GTO Club meet-in with more than 300 cars on hand.
Now that both GTOs are complete, the Sieffert's car collection has finally received its crown jewels. It's time for John and Peggy to pop open the champagne for two.