Our next Bedford classic car is Richard’s 1968 red Pontiac GTO Convertible. The 1968 GTO was named “Motor Trend” Car of the Year back in 1968. Here’s how “Motor Trend” described it:
“The finest commentary on the fallacies of modern technology has now been presented to the American automotive world by the 1968 GTO — a car that incorporates not only the best taste in GM’s ‘A’-body variations—and an excellent handling and performing supercar package — but also the most significant achievement in materials technology in contemporary automotive engineering.” (“Motor Trend” February 1968).
The 1968 GTO also had innovative materials in the design. “Motor Trend” spent much of the article
discussing its first-of-a-kind endura bumper that was dent resistant up to 4 mph. It also had a lot to say
about the rest of the car as well.
This GTO was introduced by Pontiac in 1964 and was designed by legendary car designer John DeLorean. The 1964 GTO is often described as the original American Muscle Car-setting the stage for the Mustangs, Camaros, and Chargers to come.
The name GTO was designer DeLorean’s little jab at Ferrari. On the street the name GTO was often referred to as Gas, Tire, Oil, and others, but the name actually stood for the Italian term Gran Turismo Omologato, in English, Grand Touring Homologated. The term was owned by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) sanctioning body.
The FIA determined eligibility for the Grand Touring competition and set a minimum number of a particular model that needed to be sold to be considered eligible (Homologated) for the Grand Touring competition. The competition was meant for production cars that people could actually buy. Ferrari never came close to meeting the minimum threshold.
“Ferrari never built enough GTOs to earn the name anyway,” wrote ‘‘Car and Driver’‘ in 1964. “Just to be on the safe side, though, Pontiac built a faster one.”
Unlike some classic cars, Richard’s ‘68 GTO has been driven a lot. It has had at least two cross country tours. One cross-country trip was taken with his mother along U.S Route 50, the major east-west highway connecting Ocean City, Maryland and West Sacramento, California. Stretching 3,000 miles, it has been called “The Loneliest Road in America.” Richard said at one point in Nevada there is a sign saying “Next gas, 185 miles.” To drive a classic car on Route 50 requires confidence in both the car and one’s ability to fix it if something goes wrong.
Richard’s cross-country stories do include various repairs en route, from a cracked rear seal of transmission, to broken coil springs and a host of other predicaments, including a blown engine. Most of those issues he dealt with himself along the way.
He bought his car when he finished tech school back in 1986. It did not have the original 400 engine when he bought it, but he swapped that out with the help of his father in 1988. He replaced the engine again in 2012 after the engine seized up on the Mass Pike. He restored the interior himself back in 2001 and just recently got the car back from an exterior renovation this past year. He will be rebuilding the engine again in the not-too-distant future.
In terms of showing the car, he mostly just loves driving it around town. In the past, he did take it to the Hot August Nights in Reno and was a member of the GTO Association of America and Pontiac Oakland Club International when he was in California.
Some Specs from Richard:
- 1968 Pontiac GTO Convertible
- 87,684 GTO’s built
- 9,980 convertibles built
- 461 400 HO, A/T built V8 400ci/360hp
- 0-60 6.6sec
- ¼ mile 14.5sec @ 99.7mph
- 112” wheelbase
- Endura Bumper
- Hideaway headlights
- Dual-gate(his and hers) shifter
Do you have a classic car? Let us know.
Also, we’re thinking of organizing a Bedford Classic Car Cruise night when the weather gets nice. Stay tuned for details