Big Al's Featured Car's
Patsy & Gregs "66" GTO Convertible
Owned by Patsy & Greg Spreitzer
Pictures by Patsy & Greg

 I have been playing with cars since 1963 when I had a slightly customized primed 1953 Chevy 2 door sedan. That was followed by two 1955 Chevys, 1961 Chevy Impala 348 Bubbletop, 1966 Pontiac 2+2 convertible, 1972 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ, 1975 Olds Convertible, Six 1940 Fords, both restored and street rods, Corvettes and Trans Ams.  I have been a Pontiac fan since 1967 when I bought my first Pontiac, a 1966 2+2 convertible from Grabski Pontiac in Cleveland. But that is another story. 

 In 1981 I was in the middle of a seven year frame off restoration of a 1940 Ford Convertible and I was looking for something to cruise with. I had just sold my 1940 Ford Sedan, Chevy powered street rod and wanted something different. I remembered my 1966 2+2 convertible and how much I wanted a GTO back in 1966, but in 1966 I could not afford the insurance on a GTO. So I started to look at what was available and I knew I wanted a rust free car. What better place to look for a rust free car than down south?

 The story of the 1966 GTO Convertible begins in April of 1981 when I attended the Charlotte Auto Fest at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. We had checked into our motel early and I got a local newspaper to look for cars. (Remember - This was way before all car ads were online!) There it was - an ad for a 1966 GTO convertible in Concord, North Carolina. I had some time to kill so I went to look at it. As it turned out the GTO was a very solid, rust free, southern convertible. It had the standard 335hp 4 barrel motor and 2 speed Tempest Torque automatic transmission, power steering and power brakes, remote mirror, AM Radio, Clock and not much else.  It had been repainted in Candlelight Cream (yellow) by the local Pontiac Dealer in acrylic enamel in 1980 and it wasn't an especially good job! The original color was Palmetto Green with a black top. It had a fairly new white top on it When I looked at it although it was dirty from sitting under a carport. I drove it and looked the car over pretty well and it seemed alright to me as it had about 65,000 miles on it. It started and drove fine and everything worked. I didn't know anything about matching numbers or correct drive train - that came later!

 The guy that had it for sale had to sell something as he had too many cars. He was a truck driver and kept finding interesting cars to bring home. He had bought the GTO for his wife and had it painted in Candlelight Cream for her as she hated the Palmetto green. He was having trouble finding a buyer in North Carolina as Charlotte is Ford country and there was not much of a demand for a 15 year old Pontiac GTO. I went home, but kept thinking about that old Goat (The car not the guy). Finally 2 months later, in June I took a chance that he would still have it and called him. He still did have it but now the power top didn't work as it had a bad top cylinder. I made him an offer and bought the GTO. I flew down to Charlotte with a briefcase full of tools and drove it home. The trip home was pretty uneventful driving through the two lane West Virginia Turnpike as the GTO ran great and it was a blast to drive. But I wondered why it seemed to get such good gas mileage on the drive home. When I got it home and checked the rear axle code I found that it has a 2:56 rear axle! It is a real highway cruiser. I have never ever regretted buying this car.

 When I got it home I started looking it over real good. To my surprise it had no rust at all, all original body panels, fenders, doors, quarters and floor pans. I got under the car and looked at the frame and floors and found the floor pans looked red. I thought that was rust but all it turned out to be was RED CLAY! I had the GTO documented by Pontiac Motor Division shortly after I brought it home and they sent me copies of the build cards and order sheets which show it to be a true GTO. It has the correct numbers matching drive train and I even found the build sheet under the rear seat. I also got a bunch of paperwork with the car and receipts for all repairs made to the car.

 I had access to a lot of NOS Pontiac parts so this car got NOS Bumpers, Mirrors, Lenses, Console, Door handles, Grilles, Taillights, Emblems, Mouldings and more! I replaced the standard wheels and wheel covers with correct Rally wheels and red line tires. I also added some options to the car that it could have had from the factory such as Sport steering wheel, Tilt steering wheel, Rally Gauges, Power driver seat, Reclining passenger seat, Headrests, Hazard flasher, Tissue dispenser, Trunk light, AM/FM Radio, Remote mirror, Visor mirror, Day/night mirror and Door edge guards.   The black vinyl interior is all original but the carpet has been replaced and the real Wood dash refinished.
Lots of stuff has been replaced over the years like top, top motor and cylinders (At least twice) and the usual Brakes, Ball joints, Hoses, Belts, Shocks, Tires, Axle bearings etc.  

 The GTO was driven to many Pontiac and GTO National Meets over the last 35 years in Michigan, New York, Maryland, Illinois, Ohio, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Canada. It has also been driven at least 1000 miles per year to local car cruises and shows. It was also used in my daughter Jenny's wedding in 2008. It has been very dependable and fun to drive. 

 In 2010 on the way home from the Loudonville car show July 4th weekend I noticed that it wasn't running right. It was pinging and losing power and just sounded awful. I got about half way home when I had to stop and call a flat bed. It was hauled to Midway Pontiac (Now Midway Chevrolet) in Orwell, Ohio. They found that with over 100,000 miles on the motor it was tired and lots of stuff was wearing out. The motor was rebuilt, cleaned and detailed and it now runs great. They did a super job. Thanks to Bob at Midway.

 In June of 2014 we were at a car cruise in Orwell, Ohio when the GTO was caught in a severe hail storm. After it hailed for 30 minutes and we drove home the car didn't look too bad until I put it in the garage and turned on the lights. It looked like someone had taken a hammer to the hood, fenders and trunk lid. There were 57 dents in the car, the stainless trim was dented and the convertible top even had some dimples in it. Quite an experience! Two days later when the insurance adjuster looked at it he told me to find a shop I would be happy with and they would cover all expenses.   

 I started looking for a reputable body shop to repair it but all I could find were shops that wanted to use it as fill in work and it might be done in a year or so. That was totally unacceptable. A friend recommended Cruizin Dreams Auto Body in Mentor, Ohio and I took the GTO there and talked to Garry McClung, the owner. He told me that he could do the job in 3 weeks! I took the GTO in to Garry in September of 2014. The work that Garry and his wife, Pam did was amazing. They removed all the mouldings, bumpers and trim and took out all the dents. They then painted the car in Candlelight Cream, as I had become quite used to the color. After they buffed it out and reassembled everything the GTO looked better than it ever had. It actually looked better than I expected! Garry does excellent work and the total job took just over 4 weeks! 

This 1966 GTO Convertible got me started big time into GTO'S. I have had over 30 GTO's in the last 35 years and still have tons of parts. I also still have the red on red tri-power 4 speed 1966 GTO hardtop that I bought in 1983! That one is all original with most of its original paint. The 1966 GTO Convertible has become like a member of the family and I couldn't think of ever selling it - my wife Pat wouldn't let me!  It is truly a part of the family!