50th anniversary of 1964 Pontiac GTO
Joe Carp remembers first hearing the sound of this 1967 Pontiac GTO motoring down the street in his Churchville, Pa., neighborhood sometime in 2004. A master mechanic by trade, Carp knows well what the 335-horsepower, 400-cubic-inch V-8 engine sounds like.
He decided to check into the smooth GTO sound, and after a little investigation learned the GTO belonged to a neighbor three streets over. He made it a point to drop by his neighbor’s house for a friendly talk.
“He would come down the road and I would hear it,” Carp said. “I looked at the car and asked if I could buy it, but he didn’t want to sell,” Carp remembered, adding that he asked about the car whenever he ran into his neighbor. Each time, the GTO owner said he wasn’t interested in selling. “I actually gave up after a few years,” Carp said.
In 2008, Carp was planning to buy a classic car when, out of the blue, the GTO owner notified him that he was ready to sell. “I’m like, `You’re kidding me,’” Carp said. After more than four years of asking, the owner was finally ready to make a deal.
Good thing, too. “I had a check in my pocket to go put a down payment on a ‘69 El Camino,” Carp laughed. “I bought the GTO in June of 2008, and I spent a full year totally disassembling the car and putting it back together. I tried to preserve everything about the car.”
Carp said the engine, transmission and rear end all have matching original part numbers. The car was in relatively good shape when he got it because it had been kept in a garage for years. The interior is mostly original, except for the driver’s seat and new carpet, he said.
Records show the 1967 Pontiac GTO convertible was purchased new by a police officer at Block Pontiac in northeast Philadelphia in May of 1967. The officer likely paid about $3,165 for his shiny new convertible, which was about $230 more than the price of a new hardtop version.
Today, the car is a rare find for two reasons, Carp said. First, it’s a convertible. Out of the 72,205 GTOs made in 1967, only 9,517 were convertibles. The second and more interesting reason, is because Carp’s GTO has a three-speed on the floor transmission.
“In 1967, the four-speed was standard in the GTO,” Carp said. Even more unusual, the factory-installed three-speed is “actually a Ford Motor Company transmission,” Carp said. He said he thinks there are only 10 or so remaining ‘67 GTOs outfitted with the three-speed Ford transmission.
“I paid a decent dollar for the car,” Carp said, adding he probably has put about $44,000 into the GTO since he purchased it. “I had a guy offer me 60 (thousand) for the car and I turned it down,” he said.
Carp, who signs his emails as “GTO Joe,” said the engine is original, and the odometer just rolled over 91,000 miles. The only thing he’s done to the engine is change an oil pump and a plastic timing gear. Carp said the car runs on leaded gas, which means he has to add zinc to the oil and buy special racing fuel when it’s time for a fill-up.
Carp is involved in all things GTO and has won several competitions with his ‘67 GTO ragtop. The Linden Green convertible has received several “Best of Show” awards. He is preparing his car for the Pontiac GTOAA and POIC National Co-convention this July in Monroeville, Pa. He is especially looking forward to the car show as 2014 marks the 50th Anniversary of the 1964 Pontiac GTO.
Carp said the previous owner was apparently “very emotionally tied to the car,” adding he isn’t sure what finally prompted him to sell. Carp surmised that the elderly man may have come to the realization that he wouldn’t be able to restore the GTO because of declining health. Carp said his good neighbor passed away about three years ago knowing his GTO was in caring hands.
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