Known for being an arrogant little Muscle Car, the Pontiac GTO has quite a reputation. Not only does it “borrow” the name GTO from the greatest racing Ferarri of all time, 250 GTO, many argue that the moment the 1964 GTO went on sale was the moment the “muscle car era” was actually launched. Not because of the chassis or engine used, but because of the attitude that would eventually become synonymous with what it meant to be a muscle car. The 1969 Pontiac GTO isn’t a particularly rare car with a total of 72,287 ’69 GTOs built, but it is still a car that brings back fond teenage memories for many of today’s classic car lovers.
Our customer, John Ballard, is one of those people. Back when John was a senior in high school, he saw an ad in the local newspaper listing two GTOs for sale for only $6900. He decided to scoop them up. One was a regular ole ‘69 GTO and the other is what seemed to be an original Judge. Unfortunately, the Judge was in horrible condition and at the time John wasn’t able to bring it back to life, so he decided to sell it for what he could. But for years he drove and enjoyed the remaining GTO and worked on it with his uncle as needed.
After having the car for many years, John decided to hand the car over to “the professionals” for a much needed overhaul. Sadly, his beloved GTO spent about 8 years in another shop and during that time parts of the car were lost, or cut off, or just simply disappeared.
Finally fed up, Mr. Ballard rightfully pulled his car out of that shop and researched and employed American Resto Mods to “finish the job.” When the car showed up at the shop it was in pretty rough shape. Since it was missing so many pieces, our tech Joey nicknamed the car Skeletor. Fitting for both the car and Joey who is pretty into skulls himself, but that is a whole ‘nother story…
After acquiring many parts and with some good loving labor, the car was slowly pieced together to become the 1969 GTO it is today. The entire project took about a year to complete and even though John lives far away and wasn’t able to visit his car often, he was still able to track the daily progress of the project thanks to our to our policy of documenting all of our builds online for our customers to view at their convenience.
When the time came to finally be reunited with his high school sweetheart, John instantly fell in love with the 1969 Pontiac GTO all over again. He couldn’t believe how amazing it came out and that his dream was finally reality after so many years of waiting. He went around to each of the guys personally to shake their hand and thank them for all of the hard work. It was a pretty sappy moment for all of us.
It was so awesome to see him take a seat in the now completed car and give it a crank. As the car started right up, he giggled then screamed with joy. It was like watching a kid on Christmas morning. After taking some time to enjoy the rumble of his engine, he stepped out and turned to Sarah and said, “If you have never seen a grown man cry, you are about to.” After our final clean up, he backed the car out of the shop, parked it in the parking lot and just sat there for a while reveling in the rumble. He seemed to be in awe that his car was finally alive and was literally jumped around from all the excitement. It’s moment like these that make our job so rewarding.
Before pulling out with his car in tow, Sarah asked him for a final picture with him and his car together. He gladly accepted and ran over to his car. On the count of three he stroke his pose with the biggest smile on his face. He then turned to Blake and Sarah and said, “I was trying to pose like that guy with the bread truck (Rutledge Wood).”
When a classic car comes into American Resto Mods for a restoration, it becomes a part of our family – it sort of becomes like our child. Our guys get attached and get used to each car sitting in the shop waiting for them every morning. Seeing a car go home to a happy customer is awesomely rewarding, but it is sort of sad to see them go. In a bittersweet sort of way, they are taking a piece of us with them.
Our favorite quote from this story: “You guys can take anything and turn it into this.” -John Ballard (referring to Skeletor turning into the “new” GTO)
- new roof panel
- 2 good used western fenders
- good used western hood
- Endura bumper stock and came with car
- Quarter panel full new
- New trunk floor
- New hood tach
- Trunk lid with car
- Light patching in front floors
- Mixed bag of interior parts with car
- New glass kit
- Healiner, door panel, quarter panel, kick panel, package tray new
- New rug and dynamat
- Cleaned and sealed engine and trans
- 400 cubic inch, 4 speed manual trans came with car
- Paint: Cortez Silver, Palladium Silver ( painted by Nick Henderson)
- Judge sticker kit