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The Ultimate Pontiac GTO Picture Site By Sean Mattingly.
There's no bigger GTO image collection anywhere!
FRAME-OFF RESTORATION GALLERY
Let's do a frame-off on a 1969 GTO hardtop
In words and pictures.
This is a rare treat. This is probably the first web site EVER to show you step-by-step
how to do a frame-off restoration on a GTO. And most people would agree that car magazines
only scratch the surface of this lengthy subject with their black-and-white photos. Dan
Zabetakis (DAN@cbmse.nrl.navy.mil) shows us the guts of his 1969 GTO in living color. He's two
years into the restoration, and totally blew his estimated cost of $22,000. The current running
total is $56,000. He tells us in his own words - how he did it...
NEW TEXT ADDED 3/15/01
As Dr. Frankenstein said: "It Lives!" Here we have the engine running. I learned
two things on this day. First, that a 502 with dual 3" exhaust is a very loud
engine. Second, a carburated engine not fully tuned is extremely noxious. The
fumes were unbearable. After about 5 minutes, my eyes were watering. The noise needs
some description. It is loud, yes, a sort of pulsating throbbing drum. It is deep
too, and sort of envelops you. But it is a clean sound. American Grafitti,
Little GTO, let's-hit-the-bricks sort of sound. The initial roar when the engine
starts up is quite gratifying.
In the picture can be seen several modifications that were necessary. Most obvious
is the steel braided hose. The hose and 4 fittings cost over $200. We used braided
hose because the oil line goes quite close to the headers. The oil filter
relocation was necessary but unexpected. It is another of those things that is
very amusing when you are way over budget already. Between the headers, the
frame, and the engine there is very little room. It is possible to unscrew the
filter, but not to remove it. I used Chevelle Dynomax painted headers, which were
the cheapest "big" headers available. We took the opportunity to relocate the oil
filter to a more convenient location. We put it where the battery was, which has
been moved to the trunk.
Also visible is the alternator. Mark VI engines have the alternator and A/C units
reversed from where they were on older GM products. In order to keep the original
configuration we had to use some special brackets. Several different options were
tried, without success. The aftermarket alternator bracket that we used had a
pretty poor fit, and Dave had to modify it.
The driver's side inner fender well was modified to accept the oil filter. A small
housing was fabricated to protect the filter from debris coming off the road or
tire and still allow easy access from the front underside of the car. The hole for
the filter can be seen at the right of the image. The fender wells and brake
booster were painted body color.
The trunk lid is painted solid white. No defect from the repair around the key
The hood design of the Royal Bobcat is very striking. I think it is even more so
when done in orange and white. White is a very good color for the hood scoops
because it really brings out the shadows and highlights, and makes them more
visible. I'm very pleased with the hood.
The brake system gets powered up. I have to say that I did not notice before that
the master cylinder sticks up in the air like that in a GTO. Looks a bit silly,
really. Plastic sheeting was placed over the engine and frame to protect the
paint from the brake fluid. I cracked Dave up when we went to bleed the brakes
by asking which pedal is the brake and which is the clutch? I thought it was a
perfectly reasonable question. I never drove a manual before, so there is no
excuse for laughing at me.
The trunk lid is installed, and you can see how the rear will be all white. This
reminds me that we have not yet done anything about the tail light bezels.
The exhaust system is installed. These are the same Flowmasters 40 series visible
in picture 8. I think the mufflers are principally responsible for the quality of
the exhaust sound. They are also responsible for the noise heard inside the
car too. The resinstallation required cutting a couple inches off the pipes
due to the different headers. There was talk of putting in an H-pipe, but I
think we will wait on that due to the cost. I may upgrade to coated headers at
a later date, and maybe we will fit an H-pipe then.
The main front-end assembly begins with the installation of the inner fenders.
Note how the oil filter will be accessible from the underside.
Both inner fenders are installed. The orange and black motif in the engine
compartment will complement the orange and white exterior of the car.
The last thing to go on prior to the fenders is the blower motor for the heat
and A/C. On the right is the original impellor, which had nearly rusted away.
The replacement is plastic.
The drivers fender goes on. Dave put tape along the edges of the fender and the
door to reduce the risk of paint chipping. Notice that the white striping has
not be painted yet. Dave decided to leave that until the car was assembled so
that the stripes will line up correctly.
Hoods on. This was a very solemn moment. The car has never looked so complete
before. It will look great on the street. Or should I say gr-rrreat? Nah.
Anyway, we got the fenders and hood on and only chunked the paint twice. This
car should terrorize people on the street. Well, it is a GTO.
THE STUNNING CONCLUSION - PICTURES POSTED 8-2-02
At this point the car is getting very close to "done". The paint scheme is complete,
and the glass is in. We had a fellow come out to install the windsheild and rear
window. Only a few minor items still to be installed.
When the bumper was installed it became clear that the hood design needed correction.
The point needed to be made sharper so the the surrounding stripe would remain on the
bumper, and not encroach on the grill area. Compare with earlier pictures of the hood.
In this close-up of the bumper you can see water from the final wet-sanding of the
stripes. The second refinishing of the bumper came out extremely nice with a good
IT'S DONE! Here we are, fall of 2001. It's ready to hit the streets at last!
The other side. There is still quite a bit to be done. For example, the passager-side
window regulator doesn't work properly. But that doesn't interfere with drivability.
Detail of the door and fender, showing the badges and stripes. Note the custom decal
used to terminate the upper stripe. We also added a passenger side mirror.
The interior looks exceptionally nice. Just about everything is new. And those things
that were not replaced need to be...
The headliner was also installed by a professional. We thought it best to go with someone
experienced. The headliner is white, the seats are parchment, and the carpet, dash and
most of the trim are black.
The dash cluster looks just right. And that's a new Grant steering wheel.
The engine is running strong and looking good. No A/C. No heat. Manual steering. We will
probably not continue with the original A/C unit. I may later install Vintage Air system.
Here's the front. I very much prefer the standard headlights to the hideaway version. This
is the view of a GTO that Mustang drivers only get briefly.
Underside view of the headers, exhaust and that wazoo Richmond 6-speed. I thought I busted
the transmission on Thanksgiving 2001, but it was only the linkages rattling loose. It
turns out that the 6-speed is rated to 450 lb-ft of torque. The 502 engine however is
listed as 567 lb-ft. There is a danger of breaking the transmission, but in street tires
there is little chance of getting the full torque to the wheels.
The Holley fuel pump is tucked in beside the frame rail behind the rear seats. It makes
noise. A lot of noise. It is really irritating. Soemthing to worry about in the future.
Here is the front underside of the engine, showing the Moroso oil pan, the pulleys, and
parts of the front suspension. Looks good, but for a driven car you can't keep this
Close-up of the custom sticker. It says "Gran Tourismo Omologato" which answers the
ubiquitous question of "What does GTO mean?" The design is similar to the old Royal
Bobcat sticker, which goes with the overall paint scheme. Note how the letters lean
back with the force of acceleration!
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"GTO Bookstore" section here.
Or, here are some good engine and chassis detailing books. Just hit the GO button...
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