Okay this is long, but worth the read.
When I was 15 (1986) me and daddy used to spend our weekends having fun and looking for old cars, specifically old Pontiacs, and in particular, GTO’s. As some of us on here remember, this was before the internet and cell phones. You found stuff by going to salvage yards and crawling through and over piles of rusted cars to find one with the hood you wanted, or went to swap meets and looked through piles of parts and to find the Pontiac intake manifold you were looking for. Good times.
Anyway, I grew up on a farm, and daddy and I had a high tech method for accomplishing some of this. Daddy was a private pilot. On weekends, we would load up in a Cessna 172 or J5 Piper Cub or whatever he rented for the day. We would take off armed with my Paw Jack’s (dad’s dad) old WWII spotting binoculars (he’d been a gunner on a Torpedo Dive Bomber in the war) and take off into the wild blue yonder. Dad would fly as low as possible (or I would as he had taught me how to fly) over salvage yards while the other acted as the spotter and we would look for old Pontiacs, usually easily identified by the split grill and stacked headlights. We would then mark those locations on a military map and come back to visit the next day or as soon as practical. This mapping skill would serve me well later on in my military career to call down warheads on the foreheads of my nations enemies, but I digress.
One day we were flying over a junkyard and spotted what we thought was a 66-67 GTO. We marked it on the map, and decided to drive out there the next Saturday. When that day rolled around, we hooked the trailer up to the Chevy truck and drove off to the junk yard. When we got there, we went up to the rundown looking shed that most of these places have for offices to talk to the owner. When we went inside, there was this kind of preppy looking dude which was odd. Daddy introduced himself and stated that he wanted to go look around the yard and asked how the guy worked. By which I mean if he charged by the part, the car, by weight…lots of them had different ways of doing business.
Well apparently, this guy’s dad had owned the place, and he had died of a heart attack. His son had inherited the place, and wanted nothing to do with the junkyard business. He wanted to get into the apartment complex business, and that meant clearing the cars off the land. So he looks at dad, explains this to him and says “These are all going to the crusher in the next couple of days, so if you can haul some of my dad’s old junk out of here you can have it.”
Bingo. We went into the yard and saw several pieces and parts dad said we could take for friends (remember, no cell phones so we couldn’t call anybody and tell them) like a hood for a Dodge Charger, and some side view mirrors for a neighbors mustang and a bumper for a chevelle, things like that. Eventually we found the “GTO” we had spotted from the air. Only it wasn’t a GTO. “What the hell is this daddy?” I asked.
“Son, this is a 1966 Pontiac 2+2 with the 8 Lug wheels still on it.”
I had no idea what that was. My repertoire of ancient Pontiacs at that time was limited to: GTO; Grand Prix; Bonneville; Lemans; Tempest; and Firebird. So for those of you who don’t know what a 2+2 is I will take a small break from my story to illuminate you.
When the GTO came out in 1964, it was a pretty revolutionary concept for a mainstream car because the corporate world was doing something that hot rodders had been doing for years. That is, sticking a big, hopped up engine in a little car. Standard GM policy mandated your biggest engine went in your biggest car, your most medium motor went in your most medium car, and your smallest went in the smallest (small back then would be considered HUGE today LOL). So the Little GTO/Tempest with a big 389 was pretty revolutionary for its day, and it was marketed squarely at Baby Boomers. Young kids who wanted a fast car. The Fast and Furious of their generation. Back then that movie would have been called “The Bad and the Boss” or “The Quick and the Cool” or “The Drop Dead Fast Daddy-O’s” or something. Anyway, not everybody could get a GTO. Some people already had families, or wives who were nagging at them to get a practical car and not some hot rod. So for them, Pontiac created the 2+2.
Essentially, it was a Catalina, one of Pontiac’s full sized cars. Only, they replaced the Catalina badges with call outs that read “421” and “2+2” in big letters. And it was by no means a family car. It had the vaunted 421 cubic inch engine with the Tri-Power induction system, faster gear ratios, and plenty of other items from the Super Duty Parts Line that Pontiac had. It was essentially a full sized GTO. I guess women were dumb back then too and men would say things like
“Honey…421 equals family fun!” or “2+2 means room for 2 adults plus at LEAST 2 kids!” Anyway, since the GTO was such a huge success, they thought the 2+2 would be as well. Unfortunately they were wrong and despite being luxurious, beautiful, and powerful, these Ponchos never really caught on and the line was discontinued in 1967.
Back to the story. So we find the 2+2. Now it is basically just bare metal and primer, but the body is in good shape. The emblems are all there, the chrome is pitted in places but nothing that can’t be fixed. The 8 Lug wheels (I won’t explain those but they are a rare and beautiful wheel Pontiac made for a SHORT time before the advent of disc brakes rendered them obsolete) were like new and the car had only surface rust. We popped the hood and daddy said this thing will probably be an empty engine bay. Inside was the magnificent tri-power 421 still intact along with the power steering, brakes and factory air conditioning components. “I’ll be damned.” said daddy.
Now the interior. Somebody had white washed the windows. Or painted them white. Or something…from the inside. We couldn’t see inside at all, and the doors were locked. “I bet the inside looks like a bulls ass sewed up with a grape vine.” Daddy said. This was a phrase that Paw Jack frequently used to denote ugliness. I never knew where it came from and I have never heard anyone else use it outside of our family. The doors were locked, so we went back to the shed to get them from the guy’s son. When we asked him where the keys for the car were, he said if they were here they’d be in there as he pointed to a big cardboard box. It was literally filled with keys that had just been tossed in haphazardly. Daddy told me to go through the box and pull out ALL OF THE GM KEYS from whatever year (67 I think) that had the 2 similar looking keys and not the 1 square and one round models while he went to work on the engine.
Anyway this took awhile. Eventually I had a large cardboard box filled with GM keys. So I trek back to the car with this box. We split them into two piles, dad on the door and me on the trunk (because I couldn’t then and still can’t now tell the difference between a trunk and a door/ignition key on those older cars. I mean WTF GM!? We’ll make one key round and one SLIGHTLY less round) and we went to testing locks. The second Key I tried opened the trunk, which was in great shape and still had the factory spare. We switched after dad tried his pile, and the second to the last key I tried opened the door. Hallelujah!
So we open the door. Dad says “I bet the interior is gonna be shot to hell.” Lo and behold, as you can see from the pics I will put up, that is what the interior looks like now, and that is what it looked like when we bought it and we have never done anything to it. Not replace the carpet, fix a seat, nothing. The thing looked like you could have driven it to a local car show and won a prize. It had everything. The console, factory manifold vacuum guage, AM/FM radio with the reverberator (the coolest thing ever) AC…the only real problem was the dash was cracked. That was it.
So we fiddled with the engine, siphoned the tank, put in fresh gas, added oil, hooked up a new battery, aired the tires, and voila’! The car started! We got it onto the trailer, and then we drove home. Once we got back to the house we unloaded it and dad fiddled with it some more. That evening, we drove it up town, which, I mean…there are only 583 people in our town, and cruised around the strip. The engine needed a rebuild desperately, as it looked like the Batmobile putting out a smokescreen to blind the Riddler’s henchmen. Just thick black smoke pouring from the exhaust.
Anyway, we rebuilt it, fixed up everything that needed it, and repainted it back the pale yellow color (I think it was Mayfaire Maize. Daddy didn’t like the 1966 color and so he on purpose painted it the wrong 1965 color he thought was prettier) and there you go. When I turned 16 I had a red 67’ GTO that I drove for about 1 year until a lumber truck broke several laws and destroyed the car almost killing me in the process. The GTO was demolished, so I had to start driving the 2+2. I drove that car all during high school, and in college, and afterwards. It had many names. The Beast. The Batmobile. The Millennium Falcon. The Titanic. The Boat. The Fat Cat. But I always called it The Old Yellow Car. Lots of memories. Cruising with friends. Beating my buddies Buick Grand National off the line consistently and pissing him off to no end. Scoring a Home Run in the ENORMOUS back seat for the first time.
Now that I finally have my 65’ GTO I always wanted, my next project will be to get the old 2+2 up and running. She’s been neglected since I joined the military, and daddy doesn’t have the time or money to get her restored, and is too injured to do it himself anymore. From the pics I’ll post you can see she’s pretty straight. Needs a sandblasting and a repaint, some re-chroming, a new dash from Just Dashes, probably new carpet and new seats as the foam in the old ones has that old foam crunchiness to them, but all in all she’s not bad. I just need to find someone who can do it for me. My military career keeps me too busy to do it and like I said, daddy is probably too old to do it himself anymore. I figure I got $20,000 I could put towards the restoration. Not everybody can say they still own the same car they drove in High School when they are 41 years old. I hope to get this done so me and daddy can take it on the Hot Rod Power Tour.
And that is the Amazing story of the Old Yellow Car.
In order to view pics of the car there is a clickable tab under my avatar that says Garage. Click on that tab and 65' GTO -Jill will show up along with another titled Old Yellow Car. Click on Old Yellow Car and you can see the pics.