The title sounds like the beginning of the old “a guy walks into a bar…” joke, but the punch line is more intriguing than funny.
This story goes, a guy walks into a Susquehanna Valley GTO club meeting in March 2011 and proceeds to regale the members with stories about his dad, Wilson “Sonny” Wolfe Jr., and his ’69 GTO. Wilson Wolfe III describes it as a Ram Air IV with special order Barrier Blue paint—a ’66 color—and a white front bumper. He explains, “During its assembly, the dealership called and told my father the factory could not make the color adhere to the bumper. He had two options—chrome or any other ’69 color. He chose white to match the Parchment interior.” He also told the fellow club members that his dad raced the GTO from new until the late ’70s.
Wilson “Sonny” Wolfe Jr. poses...
Wilson “Sonny” Wolfe Jr. poses with his daily driver ‘63 Catalina.
Stories like this usually end with, “It was sold years ago and we don’t know what happened to it,” but not this time. Wilson still had the GTO and his reason for joining the club was to find a reputable shop to get it back on the road.
It just so happens that this club has a group of members who regularly help other members get their GTOs road ready. Club President Vic Schreck dubbed them the A-Team when he received aid from the guys on his ’70 GTO project.
Bob Krewson and Brian Little of the A-Team were soon on their way to Wilson’s home to assess the task at hand. Bob, who was a mechanic back when this Pontiac was still terrorizing dragstrips, says, “Working on the GTO was just like working on a car in 1969. It wasn’t rusty and it was easy to repair. Inside it still smelled new, the upholstery surfaces were still soft, and nothing was dried out. It was a pleasure to work on.”
Brian recalls, “It was amazing how well preserved it was. Everything came apart like it was built yesterday. I really like the vintage race-car vibe of it as well. Many people try to capture that today but this one is the real deal.”
Don’t expect to find undisturbed...
Don’t expect to find undisturbed inspection marks and original hose clamps here. Sonny was a racer who went with what worked. He remove the cast-iron heat crossover under the stock aluminum intake and installed an ACCEL distributor and wires, Mallory coil, Autolite plugs, Hooker Headers, and a Zoom clutch among other minor items in the name of making reliable power with the WW-code, 370-horse Ram Air IV. The original carb is in a box for safe keeping, and has been since 1975 when this one was set up by Val Hedworth for lower e.t.’s.
Sonny had special-ordered the GTO in ’69 to go drag racing. He chose the 370-horse R/A-IV engine mated to the M21 close-ratio trans, 4.33:1 gears for the HD 4-pinion Safe-T-Track rear, and the Ride and Handling option. Thanks to the engine’s dialed-in Q-jet, aluminum intake, 722 Round-Port heads with 2.11/1.77 valves, 041 308/320 degrees duration cam with 0.520/0.520 lift, Ram Air manifolds, and four-bolt main block, the GTO was already quick and reliable. To get to the next level, Sonny swapped in a cheater cam, added headers, ignition mods, 14x7 Fenton aluminum mags, slicks, 90/10 front shocks, and airbags in rear coil springs, and ran a best of 12.07 at 107.52 with the headers uncorked.
As a result, the white-nosed Goat was getting recognized at tracks in Eastern Pennsylvania, including York US30, South Mountain, Beaver Springs, as well as Maple Grove and 75-80 in Maryland. Wilson remembers, “As a kid, I usually accompanied my father to the races, helping him with tires, and handing him tools. Many times only he and I went. I would stand at the fence and watch as he raced. One time I actually got to take a pass in the passenger seat, at a York US30 nostalgia street-racing night. What a thrill for a 10-year-old!”
The Baltimore-built GTO shows...
The Baltimore-built GTO shows a curious paint code. Pontiac denoted special paint in various ways. This is one we haven’t seen before. Note what appears to be “XX7” in the upper righthand corner on top of “BDY.”
There were other memorable moments as well. “Back in the mid-’70s at 75-80 Dragway, my dad faced a Hemi GTX in the final round. The Mopar owner was bragging about beating the ‘little GTO.’ When the lights came down, the Hemi was left a few car lengths behind. After the race, back in the pits, the GTX owner slapped a For Sale sign in the window because he was so upset at losing to the ‘little GTO.’”
“Then one Sunday afternoon in the late ’70s, my father popped the clutch at South Mountain Dragway and the GTO didn’t move.” The axle snapped, which caused Sonny to park his Pontiac. For the next three decades, it was carefully tucked away in a storage unit.
Wilson’s wife, Christine;...
Wilson’s wife, Christine; daughter, Samantha; and son, Spencer, are now making memories with the GTO for a new generation of Wolfes.
The interior is still factory...
The interior is still factory fresh. A Custom Sports steering wheel, pushbutton AM radio with rear speaker, Rally gauges, and shoulder belts comprise the options. To remind Sonny of the Goat’s intentions, the dash plaque reads: “Happiness is a low e.t.”
Sonny removed the stock G70-14...
Sonny removed the stock G70-14 Goodyear white-line tires early on and saved them. Wilson mounted them on the Fenton mags for show duty.