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Interview

1965 Pontiac GTO

Story and photos by Jerry F. Boone

Little GTO, you’re really lookin’ fine
Three deuces and a four-speed and a 389
Listen to her tachin’ up now, listen to her why-ee-eye-ine
C’mon and turn it on, wind it up, blow it out GTO

It was 1964 and you couldn’t go to an ice cream shop without hearing Ronnie and the Daytonas siren song about the mid-sized Pontiac.

It was an era when popular music groups sang the wonders of monster V-8s, squealing tires and fast trips down the quarter mile.

The Beach Boys’ “She’s Real Fine, My 409” went toe to with Jan and Dean’s iconic “Little Old Lady from Pasadena,” only to go to the final round with the Rip Chords’ “Little Cobra.”

They were words to live by for Frank Richards.

He was a married man with a couple of kids all squeezed inside a Corvair.

“I really needed something bigger,” he explains.

Then reality kicked in.

The cost of Pontiac’s GTO was $300 more than the price tag on the somewhat tamer Le Mans coupe.

And insurance on the big engine car was a whopping extra $100 a year.

“That was a lot of money back then,” he says.

So Richards...like most married men of that era...bought what he needed instead of what he wanted.

“I ordered it directly from the factory,” he says. “April 14, 1965.”

He still has that same Pontiac he purchased when he was 32 years old.

He’s owned it since new. Even when he really didn’t.

“I got divorced in the early 1970s and my wife got the car,” he says. “But part of the divorce was that she couldn’t sell it to anyone but me.

“A few years after the divorce, she called and asked if I wanted it back. It needed a bunch of work and she didn’t want to spend the money to do it.

“When I got the title, I realized she had never changed it. My name was still on it. I’ve been listed as the owner since it was new.”

And he now has his GTO.

They are one in the same car.

Gonna save all my money
and buy a GTO
Get a helmet and a roll bar
and I’ll be ready to go

With more than 170,000 miles on the car, it was time for an upgrade, so a few years ago he pulled out the 326 cubic inch engine that came in the Le Mans and filled the engine bay with a GTO-spec 389.

“I went from 20 miles per gallon down to 15,” he says with a shrug...and a smile.

“You can still get all the parts for the car, either new or reproduction. Just about everything is being manufactured.”

He added GTO trim, period-correct wheels and red-line tires. He also switched the color from white to black.

Only a purist would know it didn’t come from the factory as a member of the Goat Herd.

But Richards doesn’t try to fool anyone. Ask him and he’ll gladly tell the tale of the car he’s always wanted...and the one he has.

“I never really expected to keep it this long,” he says. “I figured I’d give it to my daughter.

“But she wanted a Mustang.”

Umh...that works only if her name is Sally.

Frank Richards is also the proud owner of a model GTO, autographed by Jim Wangers. Wangers was Pontiac’s chief marketing manager during its muscle car heyday. He is also author of Glory Days: When Horsepower and Passion Ruled Detroit.

Recommendations
Click on any item below for more details at Amazon.com

Paul Zazarine
Pontiac GTO Restoration Guide, 1964-1972 (Motorbooks Workshop)
Motorbooks, Paperback, 1995-05-07
This updated second edition now includes additional GTO models from 1971 and 1972! Determine the proper part numbers with this detailed, accurate, year-by-year guide showing you the right way to do a full-scale restoration. Over 1,000 photos, part numbers, codes and color charts from original factory literature point out what goes where, what parts are good or bad, and the best way to put them together.

Jim Wangers
Glory Days: When Horsepower and Passion Ruled Detroit (Pontiac)
Bentley Publishers, Paperback, 1998-10
Glory Days conjures up images of cruise nights, impromptu drag races, and genuine American fun. It is the story of the GTO, Tigers and Monkees, of Royal Pontiac, drag racing, corporate politics, and personal allegiances. Glory Days illuminates anera when Detroit’s Woodward Avenue fairly rumbled with V-8 power, as young people slowly cruised the wide boulevard. Glory Days is also an American success story, giving an insiders view of what it took then, and what it will take in the future, to keep alive America’s passion for the automobile. In Glory Days, Jim Wangers uses his 45-year career in Detroit as the basis for explaining successful brand marketing for automobiles.

Darwin Holmstrom, David Newhardt
GTO: Pontiac’s Great One
Motorbooks, Hardcover, 2009-05-17

In 1963 Pontiac’s Chief Engineer John DeLorean and his two favorite staff engineers, Bill Collins and Russ Gee, came up with an inspired way to keep Pontiac cars in the performance limelight: bolt a big engine into Pontiac’s upcoming Tempest intermediate body. Thus was the GTO born. Through cunning, resourcefulness, and outright trickery the minds of Pontiac managed to get this rocket into dealerships and out onto America’s highways, and to introduce that most iconic of American automobiles, the muscle car, to the nation’s most discriminating drivers.


Collector’s Originality Guide Pontiac GTO 1964-1974
Motorbooks, Paperback, 2008-12-25
Collector’s Originality Guide: Pontiac GTO 1964-1974 provides a bumper-to-bumper look at every component that makes the GTO a classic, from the distinctive taillights of the 1964 GTO to the Radial Tuned Suspension of the 1974 model. Year by year, component by component, you’ll discover a comprehensive and useful guide on factory specifications for restoring, re-energizing, and simply admiring the pride of Pontiac.

Auto Editors of Consumer Guide
Pontiac Classics
Publications International, Hardcover, 2010-03-09
This book takes a warm, nostalgic look at the beloved Pontiac, featuring models from the turn of the 20th century through the 1970s, including the Trans Am, GTO, Star Chief, Firebird, Bonneville, and Grand Prix. The Auto Editors of Consumer Guide have paired vintage advertisements with stunning, richly detailed photographs and authoritative text to create this colorful tribute to the best of the breed.

Steve Statham
Pontiac GTO
Motorbooks, Paperback, 2003-09

Pontiac
1965 PONTIAC GTO TEMPEST Wiring Diagrams Schematics

Factory Authorized Reproduction diagrams for GTO and Tempest. Includes Body & Engine Configurations, various electrical circuits, fuses, distributor, electric windows, seats, wipers, and more.

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