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HomeCar CultureMy Classic Car: 1966 Pontiac GTO

My Classic Car: 1966 Pontiac GTO

13 years of work and now winning awards

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I’m 74 years old and lived in Connecticut for 35 years before moving to Florida in 2021. I have always loved classic cars, particularly the 1966 Pontiac GTO. In 1971 I had an opportunity to purchase one from a friend, a 389 Tri-Power with 4-speed transmission. It didn’t take me long to realize the engine was tired, so I had it rebuilt. A couple of months later I got up to go to work and found that my car was gone. After a couple of weeks I received a call from the Rhode Island State Police that they recovered it on I-95 where it was abandoned. I collected the car, which was still drivable, brought it home and repaired a couple of minor issues. Again I got up to go to work and found my car missing. However this time it was never recovered the second time.

My passion for the GTO never waivered, and just before retiring in 2006, a person I worked with told me his cousin had a ’66 GTO he wanted to sell. After inspecting car, and the seller assuring that the recent paint job was applied to protect recent body work, I felt comfortable in purchasing the car. It wasn’t until I finally started to engage in the restoration that I realized the claims of body work were misstated; it was more like a butcher job.

I spent approximately a year replacing numerous sheet metal components: rear frame repair, deck behind rear window, trunk floor & drop-offs, two rear quarter panels, two rear outer wheel housings, outer rocker panels, two door skins, complete interior floor pan with braces, patched the sunroof, and patched lower rear front fenders. This led me to accumulating almost a full five gallon bucket of Bondo.

The car was originally a four barrel but I upgraded to a Tri-Power, 200R4 trans, Eibach coil springs, KYB shocks, and wheel disc conversion. I also added driver and passenger door power windows, vintage Crager rims with trim rings, and BF Goodrich T/A radials 205-15 FRT, 225-15 R. I had a business doing upholstery work for 20 years, so I did a custom interior with a combination of light grey and charcoal grey suede material for the door panels, quarter panels, bucket & bench seats, including headliner. Exterior paint is light metallic blue with graphite metallic accent on the tail panel, fire wall, and inner fenders under hood. This was a 13 year labor of love, I did everything myself except paint and engine rebuilding.


In April of 2023 I entered the car in my very first car show and won Best in Class.

Michael F., Florida

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32 COMMENTS

  1. I bought my 66 in 1968…I didn’t have a license to drive yet….black on black…389 tri power what was missing was the induction pan under the carbs….they seem to be rare…….super good job you done on your 66 ….bravo

  2. God bless ya, cause I’m a 65 yr. Old guy, and, you have the life story with that car, I only wish I had!, understood? Had a 71 vette back in the mid ’80’s , for 5 yrs., ( family, children, ),
    Favorite gto yr. ’66!

  3. WOW! What a good story of a live long love affair for a 1966 GTO. My older sister had a 67 GTO and I had a 67 Corvette fastback. I am 68 now and she is 71 so, like you were grew up when these classics were all around us and easy to “fall in love” with a certain make / model year. Can not imagine your heart brake when your first 66 GTO went missing TWICE! Now, your DREAM has come true! CONGRATULATIONS!!

  4. Gee Joe. Pick his car apart. If you knew anything about older cars, you’d realize the gaps from the factory were never perfect. H e wasn’t building a 100 point resto. Just my humble opinion.

  5. What a great story. Sounds like your win was well deserved. Beautiful car that you can be proud of for many years. Happyfor you!

  6. My first car 1966 Goat. Bought in 1968 for $ 1800. 389 3 speed. Single 4 barrel . Was in mint condition. It only took me 4 months to wreck it!!!

  7. Touching story, Michael. I owned a 1967 GTO for 20 years, from the Fall of 1975 to the Fall of 1995. I bought it shortly into my Junior year of high school and drove it as my main vehicle all the way through college and then sometimes into the mid-’80s to the office where I worked.

    I had it repainted the original Linden Green color twice and was beginning a full restoration when I had to move two times for job changes. I no longer had the time or place to keep working on it, so I sold it to a friend who owned a used car dealership. I still kick myself EVERY day for selling it.

    Congratulations on finding a replacement for your first 1966 GTO, winning ‘Best in Class’ at your first car show, but most of all getting to relive your dream!!! Take care, my GTO brother!

  8. Congrats and Im with ya. 75 ! 2 years ago sold my 78000 mi gs 400 4 spd rag top owned 53 years and if check clears my 87 gn t top bought from schiester in canada 2 years just ago refurbed it and will be be gone by end of week first time since 1971 ill be withou special collector car πŸš— bitch to get old !

  9. I had a 68 GTo stolen in New York City while I ran in quickly to buy a bottle of wine. When I returned less than 5 minutes later a police car was parked where my car was and the officer in the car said he was there for over 20 minutes and never saw my car. The rest I leave to your imagination and my car was never recovered.

  10. I met Mike at the car show where he won the best of class award in Florida. Parked my 69 Judge next to his GTO. He had a notebook full of restoration photos. The body work was amazing. His attention to detail was second to none. Very happy to see him recognized for the terrific work he did!!

  11. Had 12 gto just wish I had one now but I would fix them up and would sell them now I can’t afford to buy a junk one to fix up you should be proud

  12. A great story and a super lookin’ GTO. Wish you had posted some pics of the interior you mentioned. I like you using the 200R4. I’m 80 and learned to drive a stick and have had quite a few 4 spds, I have a ’87 GN with the 200R4 and while the engine has been “massaged” the
    trans has handled the power with no problem and I enjoy the tire chirps on 1st to 2nd shifts and even the 2nd to 3rd shift if I keep my foot in it.
    Again, great GTO you can be proud of your skills and don’t bother with Joe’s hood comment, looks like my ’67’s hood gap when brand new.

  13. πŸπŸπŸ‘πŸ‘ HOPE MY CONVERTIBLE LOOKS LIKE THAT WHEN DONE! Hi CAPTAIN JEFF HERE, in west MASS, I have a upholstery SHOP HERE NEAR YANKEE CANDLE 35+ years of custom CARS+TRUCKS. I was moving to FORT LAUDERDALE BUT I GOt BUSY

  14. That’s a beautiful car I remember my good friend had one in high school we were seniors ( 69″) it was a soft top I had an mgb, loved his car im 70 now and i bought a MGB GT and restored it im in South FL
    Mike C

  15. I bought a 66 GT0 in 1968 for 2k it was dark blue, four barrel, 4 speed, with 389 motor. For a stock car it ran pretty good in its day. I traded it in for a brand new 1970 Buick GS 455. Over the yrs I traded cars for different ones which were more like a family cars. Now that I’m retired and 74 yrs old I currently own a 68 plymonth Gtx that I’ve been restoring for the last 5 yrs.

  16. I have always wanted a 66 or 67 GTO. I “SETTLED ” FOR A 2004. I NOW HAVE 70 MILES ON IT AND IT STILL PULLS. I LOVE this car

  17. So so sad that uneducated thugs steal cars that people work so hard to get road worthy, hours and hours of hard work and for them to steal them
    It happend to me back in 1994 with my Corvette that took five years to save up for with my wife having car issues I let her take my Vette into work she was a florist and had to work over night for an up coming holiday
    ( Mothers Day ) I should had known better due to where she work . The Inner City well they found it on a baseball field beat to death with over 40K damage I just parked it and forgot about it until six years later a body shop offered me 1/10 of what the car was worth it really broke my heart so I just wanted to let this gentleman know there’s others out there with sorrow too

  18. I feel you pain Bought 65 Gto engine was shot rebuilt it in auto trades .Headers cam ladder bars etc Put turbo hydro Trans went for a short ride.was stolen and Stripped Bought another 1 red had motor rebuilt bored out etc met my wife and sold it $500.00 biggest regret of my life 1 day I will get another Little Gto your looking Fine

  19. I read your.story and wow, it was bittersweet to me cause eome.creep stole it. Listen I am a firm.believer
    That he,all get his in the end. I’m.happy for you. I had 68/road runner, and a 71 Demon. Traded the Demon for an a 4speed for the 68. That Road Runner was like, a love affair, it was wonderful and amazing, but… I got rid of her. Got a 91 Stealth twin turbo. And I hated it.

  20. I am 65 year old. In 1971 my dad (Beefy)bought a 66 GTO same motor & 4 speed as this guys. He allso did upost. work, and our GTO was allso stolen from a Bowling Alley. It was recovered, stripped & not worth getting back. At 13-14 years old i loved that car. Our other car at the time was a 1957 Belair that he bought in Jan. Of 1958 and drove till selling it in 1979.

  21. Wonderful love affair with this car.
    I’ve known Mike for years. He is a perfectionist. Congratulations on this recognition from other enthusiasts.

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