Three years had passed since my mom bought her ’67 GTO when the time came to get a new daily driver. Since the first GTO departed, my mom had a rapid succession of cars that tried, and failed, to replace that cool, but star-crossed convertible.
The damaged GTO was traded in on a Jaguar E-type 2+2, which was beautiful to look at but misery to own. Then came a gorgeous triple black Cadillac Eldorado whose ownership was kind of complicated followed by a four-door Ford Thunderbird that was broken into so many times I think mom stopped locking it to save it from being damaged in the process. Enough was enough, and a new, reliable, fast and fun car for daily use was in order.
So it was back to Colonial Pontiac April 16th of 1970 for another GTO convertible. This time, careful to avoid the red car curse, the new GTO would be Cameo White with a Sandalwood interior and a white convertible top. Her salesman, Mr. McKenna, took her a lot more seriously this time, and an order form was filled out in due course. Automatic transmission, air conditioning (no argument this time), console, tinted glass, door edge guards, floor mats, remote side mirror, tilt steering column, Rally II wheels, Rally gauge cluster, power disc brakes, power windows, AM/FM radio, white wall tires, Ride & Handling suspension, undercoating, custom sport steering wheel and remote trunk release. Compared to the first GTO, this one was loaded. In fact, a piece of lined paper was stashed with the official order form that listed a few more options mom was considering, like power door locks and an eight-track tape player, but for whatever reason, she decided not to order them.
It’s just as well, as the white car wound up costing her the princely (princessly?) sum of $4,200 or $126.14 a month for 36 months with a startling 12% APR on the GMAC financing. Unlike the first GTO, the second one was built in the Pontiac home factory in Pontiac, MI. Again, the car took a mere five weeks to go from a yellow sheet of paper at the dealership to creamy white sheet metal sitting in our driveway.
Also unlike the first car, this one would prove nearly invincible. Sure, it had a few small wrinkles inflicted upon it, but nothing like the rolling demolition derby that the red car was. Mechanically, it was virtually bullet proof. A timing chain failure in the mid-1970s while driving down the Garden State Parkway was the one and only time the car could not finish a trip it started.
This car was my mom’s daily driver for almost a decade and a half. Again, while other moms were driving dull sedans and station wagons, my mom was rolling out with the top down and the radio up, the GTOs four tailpipes growling while other cars in the neighborhood wheezed by in anonymity.
An express trip to Florida in the dead of winter when the car was only a year old saw us cross the state line into the Sunshine state with traces of New Jersey snow still stuck in a few nooks and crannies. The 350-horsepower, 400-cubic inch engine provided plenty of speed for that trip, and many, many, many more. The day I got my driver’s license in August of 1980, we got home from the DMV and my mom handed me the keys and turned me lose on an unsuspecting world in that amazing car. I put a tank and a half of .65-cent a gallon gas through it in one day.
With over 80,000 miles on the car, I ran it down the quarter mile at Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ and came away with a 14.75-second time slip. It hadn’t lost a step. With 100,000 miles on it, I drove it from New Jersey to California in the winter of 1992 where it got a break from the snow, sleet and salt of the northeast. During the trip, one of the four original head light bulbs finally gave up the ghost. It was only the second light bulb that the car left the factory with that had failed.
I drove the car back from California with my sister, which was an adventure all by itself, and then the car sat…and sat…and sat. First it was stored indoors, and later, outdoors under a cover. The exposure didn’t do the car much good and when I finally got a garage of my own, the car was back inside. The poor thing was a mess, and I felt terrible for having let it get that way after all the good times and fast fun we had with it. Then, the economy tanked and I was out of work for an extended period. To avoid losing my home, something had to give, and it was the GTO. Plagued with guilt, I listed the car on Ebay and it sold for enough money to save our house to a fellow out of Cincinnati who would restore it to its former glory.
This would not be the last car we would buy from Colonial Pontiac, but it would be the last one my mom would buy for herself.