Though not correct, the Judge...
Though not correct, the Judge rear wing does look great on the tail of Basil’s Goat. Superchrome in Asbury Park, New Jersey, rechromed the original rear bumper.
When the legendary ’64 GTO hit the streets, it was almost exclusively ordered by customers looking for high performance in a midsize package. It struck such a chord with the emerging postwar baby boomers that it launched an all-new market segment, originally called supercars by the enthusiast press at the time. They are now known as musclecars.
By 1968, the musclecar market was rife with big-engine, midsize screamers from nearly every automaker, but the GTO once again stood out from the pack with a new styling direction and more luxurious option offerings. Sure, you could get air-conditioning and power accessories right from the start in a GTO, but now Pontiac was marketing directly to those who wanted a quick and luxurious midsized machine.
For Basil Morales, of Middletown, New York, the option combination originally selected for his ’68 GTO has turned out to be a great base for building the car of his dreams. This gorgeous Verdoro Green Goat came with the base 350-horse 400, automatic transmission, air conditioning, Hideaway headlights, A/C, Soft Ray glass, power steering, power brakes, Hurst His-and-Hers shifter, power antenna, AM radio with Reverb, Rally clock, and a 2.93 rear axle ratio, making for a long-legged highway cruiser. In a way, this GTO is a sort of a junior Grand Prix in that it has many of the luxury options available in the B-body ’68 GP, but at a lower price. It also had the same basic engine and a lot less weight to haul around—a win by anyone’s measure.
The original YS-code 400 was rebuilt by The Engine Shop and features 0.040-inch-over Sealed Power forged pistons, a Melling SPC 8 camshaft, a Pertronix electronic-ignition module, and a set of Doug’s Headers with 1.75-inch primaries and 3-inch collectors.
Morales, the owner of a security company, had been looking for a car similar to the ’68 LeMans of his youth. After purchasing that Pontiac with an Olds engine and Powerglide transmission, he put in a proper Pontiac 400 and Turbo 400 automatic. It was a hard runner but pretty rough, so rough in fact that one time when it was driven over a large puddle, it soaked his girlfriend in the passenger seat. Fortunately, she was a good sport, hung in there, and now she’s his wife.
In the interest of starting a new business and a new marriage, the LeMans was eventually sold. Several cars were bought and sold in the years that followed, but Basil never really got that LeMans out of his system.
Though collectors usually...
Though collectors usually seek out the rarest and most desirable combinations of any given year GTO, there is a lot to be said for the base-engine versions, like Basil Morales’ gorgeous ’68. Many came with automatics, air-conditioning, and other comfort and convenience features, which translates to fantastic highway cruisers that still have a lot of performance and room for personalization.
In 2004, with the encouragement of his wife, he started looking for a suitable replacement for his old ride. “I believe the puddle incident left a permanent mental scar with her,” he said. “With kids now in the picture, it made sense to get a finished car.”
With $18,000, his search began. After a few unsuccessful leads, Basil found his GTO at The Chev Connection in Portland, Oregon. It was fairly priced at $14,900 and was a numbers-matching car with a completely original interior. After a flood of pictures and emails back and forth, a deal was struck and the car was on its way to Middletown.
“When it arrived, it was even better than described,” Basil recalled. “The paint wasn’t show quality, but it was fresh and nicely done. Everything worked on the car—I was shocked.” He added, “For a deal made over the Internet and a few thousand miles away, I felt pretty good.”
A Hurst-Equipped emblem on...
A Hurst-Equipped emblem on the decklid of Basil’s GTO refers to the factory-installed His-and-Hers shifter, the innovative dual-gate shifter that could be manually shifted for high-performance use or left in Drive like a normal automatic.
Of course, the story does not end there. After a loose wire shorting on the block left him stranded one Saturday, he decided to do a little detail work under the hood. “The thought was to put some of myself into the car and give it a story, because I didn’t know anything about its previous history,” he explained. “Twelve hours and 170 Ziploc bags later, my wife stepped into the garage, looked around, and left without a word.”
A simple detailing job turned into a full body-off restoration. He began by media-blasting the chassis, and that’s when he noticed something almost beyond belief. Numbers stamped on the framerail struck him as oddly familiar: 10 4 67. After muttering them a few times, it hit him. “I realized that the frame was made on the day I was born,” he exclaimed. “How cool was that?” We would say very...