My Dad worked for General Motors, the Delco-Remy plant in Anderson, Indiana, his entire working life. I was born in 1959, and all my early memories of Dad are about him and his older brother, Unc Bruce, with sprint cars, street racers and just wicked GM cars that drove my Mom crazy.
The first car I really remember was a ’62 Impala SS, Anniversary Gold, small block auto. This was the family wagon while Dad raced a built 2×4 348, stick, black/white top ’61 Impala hardtop. He got deals as an employee, so the whole family gravitated to GM stuff.
Mom’s youngest sibling, my Unc Ricky, was six or so years older than I. His second ride in high school was a gorgeous deep Mariner Turquoise over Parchment/black ’67 Pontiac GTO. It was built late ’60’s style with way too much cam 400, intake and double pumper Holley, high rpm B&M converter with factory Hurst “his ‘n’ hers” console shifter and Gabriel Hi-Jackers that put the taillights about level with my 8-year-old eyes.
He attended a private Catholic high school near the secular private co-ed prep school I attended, so the GTO was my school bus. I loved that car just as much as the school admin hated it.
The minimal CherryBombs and straight pipes off the headers were not popular with adults at my school. My peers thought I was a hero, especially if Unc peeled some bias ply or crackled the pipes on the back down.
I always wanted a GTO but became addicted to real handling, safe braking, reliability, and computer-controlled and controllable performance. Then a friend in the biz found a just out of an estate, improperly stored 40th Anniversary, TorRed ’04 GTO with the no-cost optional 6-speed Tremec crunch box. It needed lots of love and money. I had the love and a good job and, after one look, wrote a check.
Yeah, it’s a cash burner, and with it being Australian has some, ah, personality. Every part, not for the 5.7 LS1 (if you believe it’s still a 5.7), costs at least a third more than those for Camaros and Firebirds, but I see those cars multiple times every day.
I know all of the ’04-’06 GTOs in the area and usually only see them at shows or cruise-ins. If I wanted to see myself coming and going several times a day, I would have bought a Mustang.
The full IRS GTO handles and is about as practical as a fat Corvette. A jacket and lunchbox fit in the back “seats,” but not even a small human being will. The trunk is hilariously useless. After the amps and sub box went in, well, a couple of grocery bags fit. And you aren’t getting the spare, so just call AAA.
I’ve done some mods to, ahem, make a couple of bucks but kept the factory exhaust, though it costs me some power, as Bob Lutz insisted the ’04 GTO sound like the ’64. The backtalk from the blocked crossover 2.5-inch true duals and the breathy cam sound like delicious ’60’s music. Forget going back — let’s go forward to the past!
The personal plate says “Anduril,” which is the hero sword from Lord of the Rings and in Tolkien’s Elvish language it means “Flame of the West.” All my buds agree that we translate it as “Flame of the Wallet.” But I knew what I was doing.
I’m no longer in the market and quite likely will die with, under, or in my Goat — but it’s what I wanted all my life, just not the generation I planned.
— Ryan Corman, Fargo ND
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