I suspect the judges who previously gave this car an AACA Senior badge would not have done so on sale day


Pontiac first offered the GTO option on the Tempest in 1964, and despite UAW strikes, which kept production down, it was a big hit.

The muscle car market was evolving, and in 1965, the GTO was named Motor Trend Magazine's Car of the Year. It was easily distinguished from its Tempest siblings by its black-out grille, hood intake, various badges, and a rally gauge instrument cluster.

This 1965 Pontiac GTO Convertible was delivered to Reedman Pontiac in Bristol, Pennsylvania, in May 1965 and sold in October. The fourth owner bought it in 1982 and drove it until 2005, when a full restoration was carried out.

It was stripped, the bottom of the rear fenders were replaced, and it was repainted in PPG urethane. The frame was dismantled, with all the components replaced or refinished and powder coated. A new gas tank and stainless steel fuel and brake lines were fitted. The original 389-ci V8 had previously been rebuilt and was untouched. All date codes and numbers match.

The interior was reupholstered in red vinyl, with new carpets and hardware. The car comes with original window sticker, owner's manual, Protect-O-Plate, and build sheet, along with detailed bills of the work done.

Shown at the AACA Spring Meet in New Bern, North Carolina, in May 2007, this GTO Convertible won a First Junior Award and scored a Senior AACA Award later.

(Introductory description courtesy of RM.)

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1965 Pontiac GTO Convertible

This 1965 Pontiac GTO Convertible sold for $81,400 at RM’s first sale in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on October 12, 2007.

Introduced in mid-1964, the GTO package was a high performance package for the Tempest’s high-end series, the LeMans. The GTO wasn’t a separate series until 1967, and through 1965, there is no way to tell a real car from a fake by looking at the body tag, so back-up documentation is a must (which this car had).

One must also remember that this was only two years from the “rope-drive” Tempest of 1961-63, which shared the basic body structure and swinging rear transaxle of the Corvair, rather than the new-for-1964 Chevelle platform to which it moved. And if you thought that Ralph Nader had a good case against the early Corvair, those air suckers were rock-solid stable compared to an early Tempest, which had very little weight to hold that rear end down.

While we have seen early Goats get into this kind of money on occasion, this GTO Convertible had some things about it that caused me to question its market valuation.

One of the big selling points here was its fresh AACA Senior Award. Not to knock the AACA, as I do think highly of the organization, but I’d have been far more impressed if the awards came from the Pontiac-Oakland Club International, which is full of judges with GTO on the brain. One would think that an AACA Senior-judged car would be a no-brainer as far as restoration quality is concerned. However, some of my fellow auction reporters who saw the car were not so impressed.

But let’s first give credit to the restorer for trying to replicate the original, imperfect style of paintwork in his use of urethane. He understood that to accurately “restore” a car is to also replicate such things as runs and orange peel caused by the original painter at Pontiac Main during his shift on a hangover Monday.

Sure, base / clear looks nice and shiny, but it’s an altogether different look than circa 1965-not that urethane is perfect, either. Call it being anal-retentive, but that’s what POCI and AACA judges want to see in a true factory stock “restoration.” Remember, restoration is defined as returning something to its original configuration, warts and all.

But we go downhill from there. While the desire to replicate originality might explain sloppy paint, it can’t justify bad trim plating. The majority of the exterior was replaced with reproduction pieces, but there were some pitted originals. This included the rear taillight housings and most of the interior. Yes, I know the rear trim panel is a pain to deal with, and most of the interior trim is hard to find, but that’s what should separate the men ($81,000) from the boys ($40,000)-no cut corners.
While the undercarriage was fully restored, including ball joints and suspension bushings, it was reported that the front tires were starting to show uneven wear. Yes, you can stick $3,000 worth of new suspension parts in, but you also have to set them up properly.

If this was strictly a trailer queen, the lack of a proper alignment would be harder to detect, simply because the drive from the show field to the trailer isn’t far enough to uncover wear. It takes highway speeds and distance to do that, and this car was starting to show that it wasn’t set up correctly. Once again, an $81,000 Pontiac GTO Convertible should have no excuses.

This was no longer strictly a show car, a fact reinforced by the engine bay, which showed light patina from use in the form of paint discoloration from heat cycling and rust on the bare metal fasteners and exhaust manifolds. Once a car is used like a car, pretty soon it’s a used car. I suspect the judging team that gave it the AACA Senior badge would not have come to the same conclusion on sale day.

The other worrisome point is the way it is equipped. As a point of reference, I evaluated another 1965 GTO convertible at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale four years ago (SCM# 32398). It sold for $75,600. That car, in turquoise metallic, had all the bells and whistles a GTO buyer could ask for. These included the Tri-Power setup, 4-speed manual transmission, and a post-factory Hurst package of wheels and shifter.

Our featured car has none of this. It is a base 4-barrel and, worst of all, has Pontiac’s 2-speed slush box automatic. On the plus side, it is a real red paint/red interior car. The majority of the market wants red, yet that factor alone shouldn’t have pushed this GTO into a retail-plus territory.

Finally, let’s look at the current market for early GTOs. While the above comparison car is a now-stale sale from four years ago, it also shows early GTOs at their peak. Since then, the muscle car market has cooled, including 1969 Camaro Z/28s, Boss 302 Mustangs, E-body Mopars, and early GTOs.

Considering all of the above, I’d have thought this GTO Convertible would have sold in the $60,000-$70,000 range, at best. If the new owner bought it for himself and doesn’t give a damn what the car is worth to anyone else, he’ll be happy. But if he bought it thinking there was still money left on the table, he’ll have trouble finding the table, let alone the money.

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