Your Ride: 1966 Pontiac GTO
Celebrating the one year anniversary of his 1966 Pontiac GTO purchase this month, one of our readers, Eric, wanted to share his drop-dead gorgeous piece of American muscle. After 20 years of what he calls "desire, bordering on obsession," Eric's dream finally came true with the purchase of the '66 GTO. A car that he says has been a part of his family for a number of years, with his dad owning a number of GTOs. When Eric lost his job in 2011 though, it was a tough blow to his not only to his financials, but to the opportunity of ever owning his dream ride. But thanks to some hard work and perseverance, Eric was able to finally get behind his dream ride, and make it his own. Check out the full interview below: PHOTOS: See More of the 1966 Pontiac GTO How did you acquire your ride? I found an ad for the car during one of my daily craigslist searches and was surprised to see that it was only 20 miles from my house. After some back-and-forth with the seller (he "sold" the car two or three times to people who couldn't come up with the money afterward) I was finally able to drive down and see it. I really lucked out with the timing, because the guy had people from all over the country and as far away as Australia with serious interest in it. The seller was an older gentleman who had recently sold off his other cars (including a 1970 Boss 302 Mustang and a 1974 Firebird Formula) due to severe arthritis limiting his ability to drive a stick. The last one he was willing to part with was his baby, the GTO, of which he was the second owner and had owned it since 1980. He got pretty choked up when I came back to pick it up a few days later, but he said he was happy I bought it because he knew after talking with me that I'd take care of it. Interesting side note: I was supposed to pick the car up on a Thursday but had to postpone for whatever reason. On Friday morning I was on my way to work - it was such a beautiful morning and I was really wishing I had been able to pick it up so I could drive it in to work that day. Minutes later I nailed a deer going 55 mph with my truck. I guess the muscle car gods were looking after me that day.
What drew you in when you bought it?
Anyone who has talked to me for five minutes probably knows that I've always wanted a GTO, so it wasn't like I just went out and bought any old car. I've always been especially crazy about those first generation 64-67 cars with the long body lines and the "notchback" roof. Believe it or not though, I actually got a little bit of cold feet when it came to actually dropping the money on one. But when the owner fired up that big 455 in the driveway, all those worries were drowned away in that slow, loud rumble. I had to have it.
PHOTOS: See More of the 1966 Pontiac GTO Convertible
Does it have a name?
I've had a name for just about every car I've owned, but I don't have one for the GTO quite yet. This car means a lot to me, so I feel like the name should really reflect the car's character and the long journey I've taken toward finally owning one. It'll come to me someday.
What do you feel like when you drive it?
Every time I drive it is just as fun as the first time. People aren't joking when they say you really have to drive these older cars. The manual brakes are a real bear and it takes corners like a haywagon, but I don't mind. I cruise around listening to some Motown or Beach Boys and it's like driving in a time machine. I don't think the novelty will ever wear off. I can't pull up to a red light or stop at a gas station (I stop at a lot) without someone chasing me down to talk about my car. It's nice to know that people still appreciate these old gals.
What would you change about your car, if anything?
Oddly enough, somebody already did a lot of the stuff that I probably would have done to the car if I was a kid in the 60s. The Cragar mags, the souped up motor, the 12 bolt rear end, the hood pins, the little aftermarket steering wheel. All the classic hot rodder touches. Except for the cheesy early 90s cassette player. That thing's gotta go.
PHOTOS: See More of the 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge
What have you done to make it a bolder ride?
I had a reproduction 1966 PA license plate made for the front bumper that says GO-BABY. The gold background really stands out and people get a kick out of it. I even have a 1966 PA registration sticker for it.
Dream accessory for it and why?
I might switch to some higher gears or get an overdrive unit at some point to make long drives a little more enjoyable. The 4.10 rear end isn't exactly highway friendly. It's okay for now, though. I didn't buy the car to save on gas.
PHOTOS: See More of the 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge Convertible