Jackie Hunter and John Kane...
Jackie Hunter and John Kane have been in the business of restoring GTOs and other cars since the early '80s.
Their six-bay shop is just...
Their six-bay shop is just one of the buildings on the complex. You can see a '70 Sierra Yellow Judge that is partway through the resto process. The shop also contains a spray booth to provide top-quality refinishing.
Different areas of the shop...
Different areas of the shop are set up for certain tasks. Here we see finished suspension parts awaiting installation, and in the background a set of finished doors that are contained in fabric covers to protect them.
It can happen to any of us. You start a project with the best intentions, and before you know it you're in too deep. Perhaps you overestimated your own talent, or that of the restoration shop you chose to do the work. Maybe you tore your Pontiac down only to find it was much worse than expected or you didn't realize the replacement parts and the shop's labor costs would be as high as they now are. Are you currently sitting in your own garage surrounded by 10,000 Pontiac pieces that once were a GTO, overwhelmed, and have no idea what to do next? Read on.
HPP visited a top GTO restoration shop, John Kane Restoration, to pick the brains of the owners in an effort to aid readers in getting their stalled projects back on track or to avoid common pitfalls when beginning their next project. Though John Kane Restoration has called Bedford, Pennsylvania, home for the last five years, the origins of the business can be traced to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where it began as JJJ Enterprises in 1984. The year before, Jackie Hunter was restoring a '66 GTO at home and needed someone to do the bodywork. She met John Kane through a friend who was having John restore the body on his '64 GTO.
The two hit it off, and soon after Jackie started a parts business that operated from John and his partner's restoration shop. Both endeavors dovetailed nicely, but Jackie began to devote more and more energy to the restoration side of the business and finally decided to forego parts selling for resto work.
According to Jackie, "At the time, we tried to do GTOs exclusively, but in the mid '80s they weren't worth enough money yet to support a full-time restoration business. John built award-winning street rods, concours-quality Packards and Lincolns, and even restored Ferraris in the '80s. That's how he met Steve Ames."
By the late '90's musclecars had really hit their stride on the collector market, and John and Jackie were able to move away from Ferraris and street rods and concentrate solely on musclecars.
Since that time, John says, "We have restored at least 10 or more Ram Air IV cars. Steve Ames has four of them. We've done possibly 70 GTO points cars over the years." Their services are currently in such great demand that they have a three-year backlog for restorations.
Speaking of points cars, John and Jackie are still restoring GTOs of very high quality, but are more geared toward the owner's wishes than to points on a judge's scorecard. For that reason, some of what you see in the photos of the beautifully restored '70 Starlight Black Ram Air IV Judge convertible may not agree exactly with the prevailing views in points judged competition.
Regardless, our trip to Bedford provided us with a treasure trove of information regarding restorations, from what to look for when choosing a shop to determining during teardown what to restore and what to replace to what is plated and what is painted in the engine compartment. And there are some organizational tips that are sure to please. So check out the giant sidebars, the photos, and the captions, and see if we can help you get a handle on your project.
Special thanks to Quint Stires (GTOAA tech advisor for 1970) of Ames Performance and Steve Gregori at www.brakeboosters.com for their help.