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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all!

I'm a huge car nut. I can't help it. I've been looking at owning a GTO for about 10yrs now, so it's no rash decision. As the title states I was looking to maybe clear my garage and if you guys think it's possible. Buy a GTO and use it as a daily? I know, it's a classic and I know it'll be hard to deal with, but I wanted to check with you guys to see how reliable they are. I know it's not a honda, but just trying to gauge if I should just keep the poster in the garage and leave it at that. I've owned a lot of sports cars and the occasional jeeps, some older some newer, but nothing classic. Always wanted one though.

Can you guys offer your advice? I'm not a good wrench, mainly due to the amount of overtime I work. I'll be relying on a shop for future fixes.

Last details.... One super important question is that i'm looking at the Gen 1 (65-67) or the Gen 2 (68-69) is one more reliable then the other? Oh! I forgot I'm in California, I'm hoping that 91 octane is enough for the engines or I need to do additives every fill up.

Huge thank you all for any help advice you have. Oh! My budget is around 30k and I'm hoping that might get me one that is at least somewhat good shape if you guys think this is a possibility.

Cheers!
 

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I purchased my ‘69 in November 2016 with 47,000 miles on it.
Living in Ontario, Canada, she sleeps in storage for the better part of 6 months every year.
So this is my 3rd summer driving it, and I just rolled past 70,000 miles.
That’s 23,000 miles over the course of 3 summers. And she has never, ever left me stuck on the side of the road.
Regular oil changes with Brad Penn 20/50 and 94 octane with octane booster in every tank, as well as fuel stabilizer each winter.
I’ve changed the air filter a couple of times, put new spark plugs in this spring, and I’m on my 3rd set of tires.
In short - drive it brother. That’s what it was meant for.



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Welcome to the GTO Forum ! :)


You should be able to buy a decent car for $30k, as long it wasn't an original Judge, Ram Air, or other rare model.

Since it'll be a driver, might get a better buy if you settle for a clone, rather than a real GTO. It'll LOOK the same, and basically BE the same, except for the numbers.

Might also look for one that doesn't have a high compression engine. A GOOD, correctly rebuilt 400 or 455 with no more than 9.5 CR would be my choice, even if the car is a '65-'66. The later heads/engines have advantages over the 389 heads/engines. Since you're limited to 91 octane, I'd go for no more than 9:1 CR. Otherwise, you might need to add some Torco Accelerator octane booster to your gas.

"...Gen 1 (65-67) or the Gen 2 (68-69) is one more reliable then the other?..."

Can't see that the year model would make one more reliable than another. I prefer the '65 & '69 model body styles.

I hate to even mention this, but a car with a good small block Chevy engine would probably be cheaper, and the engine would be cheaper to replace, should that ever be needed. I personally would only consider one with a Chevy engine, if it was a good enuff deal so that I could afford to replace the engine with a good Pontiac engine. But, Chevy engines don't bother lots of younger guys, nowadays.

For these old cars, RUST & bad body work are 2 of the problem areas.

https://www.autotempest.com/results?make=pontiac&model=gto&zip=71251&minyear=1965&maxyear=1969&maxprice=35000

https://classics.autotrader.com/classic-cars-for-sale/pontiac-gto-for-sale?year_from=1965&year_to=1969

https://classics.autotrader.com/classic-cars-for-sale/pontiac-le_mans-for-sale?year_from=1965&year_to=1969
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hi guys,

Thanks a bunch for the advice and the help! Oh and Joe, love your GTO looks stunning! BigD, I was trying to scour the internet for some engine advice and what I should look for (I know there were a few options the gto came with) so huge thank you for the help on that! I'll narrow my search down to a 400 if I can and with low Compression ratio. I'm not seeing too many ads displaying the CR in the details. When I find one that I'm serious about I'll have a classic mechanic look at it and make sure it's in decent shape. Maybe a leak down/compression test to?

The only issue is that in California, I heard it need to have the same engine that the car came with for it to be registered. If it has another engine make I heard it's a large issue. I'm reading all I can to see how difficult it will be to get a car shipped here. Thank you again guys!
 

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Yeah, check your state laws. I've read that '75 & older cars are exempt from emissions testing.

But I'm no expert on CA vehicle laws.
 

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Where in CA are you? I just got my 67 GTO a month ago with the plan to make it fully daily drivable here in LA. I have another car that's more reliable, but I want to get the GTO dependable so when if I want to work on the other car I can. I'm doing mine more protouring style because it was a driver when I bought it. I've done the same thing with a 68 Camaro, 70 Cutlass, 87 Grand National, and an 81 DeLorean... all were daily drivers. Sure, they're not as reliable as a modern car, but you can get them to the point where they can be driven every day. And I'm not an expert by any means... I learn a little more with each car, and know what my limits are too. This forum and the facebook page have been great resources so far.

Yeah, you don't need to worry about emissions/smog with this car.
 

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When done correctly a Pontiac 400 - 455 can be an excellent DD and get reasonable gas mileage (if you can avoid keeping your foot off the floor). I live near Detroit so we only get 4-6 months of good weather and i drive my 66' with 462 and dual quads every chance i get. Always starts in a few cranks lopes along on the freeway at 70mph at 2000RPM and can sit in stop and go 90 degree day for hours without temp hitting 185.
In Cali i would be looking for an AC and/or convertible car or one that has been converted. Also you will probably want an automatic preferably with an OD transmission upgrade, and at least front disc brakes. Also power steering if it is a Gen1. Be sure to check the rear window seal and the panel below it for any water leaks and rust also make sure it has all good soft rubber door and window seals.

The original Pontiac motors are reliable if done correctly as others have said but can be pricey to rebuild. Also these cars are relatively simple mechanically and when built were designed to be reliable DD's for their day. Most problems that will arise from daily wear can be handled with a basic socket and wrench set and screwdrivers in the trunk. I carry a spare HEI module, a few plugs, an extra long plug wire, some fuel line and small tube clamps, an inline gas filter (clear plastic). Any time i have had a problem (3 times over 9 years) i have been able to fix it at least enough to get it home with these basic tools.
I wish i lived in a climate that allowed me to drive it all year.
 

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The key is to find a car that does not have an engine built up for big horsepower. Most engine rebuilds means it gets more cam, bigger carb, more cubes, etc..

Gearing is important. Rear gears can be intended for fast acceleration or highway driving. One essentially is a trade-off for the other AND has an effect on gas mileage. Do you care about gas mileage?

If I were to go for a daily driver, I would want 8.5-9.0 compression. Cam selection would then be matched to my compression.

Keep cam lift near stock or slightly higher, but still use stock valve springs to keep spring pressure reasonable and not contribute to any accelerated wear of valve train components - based on screw-in rocker arm studs or pressed-in rocker arm studs.

Stock iron heads with an improved 3-angle valve job.

Hydraulic flat tappet cam/lifters over roller.

Forged pistons and forged I-beam rods.

I might favor an aftermarket fuel injection carb over a stock carb for a daily driver. This may or may not require fuel pump upgrades.

Electronic ignition over points - not because it is better, but because if you are not a hands-on mechanic, you may not want to change points.

Cast iron Ram Air exhaust manifolds if possible, but at a minimum, a 2 1/2" dia pipe system for improved exhaust flow.

Just my suggestions.

BTW, where does the '65-67 Gen I and '68-69 Gen 2 label come from? That's a new one on me. I know I don't keep up with the times and still live in the past, but never read about the different break downs of the Gen's with regards to the GTO body years/styles.

Wouldn't the 1964 be Gen I? '65 is closer to the '64 than the '66. So it should be 1964-65 Gen I, 1966-67 Gen 2, 1968-69 Gen 3, 1970-'72 Gen 4, 1973 Gen 5, and 1974 Gen 6.

Suppose the 2004-2006 is Gen 7.

Oh, just found it. Should have known. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontiac_GTO

Hmmm. I wonder what Gen my penis is? I'll have to check my family tree. Could be a Gen 50 Mark IV design now that I look at it.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
What an incredible forum! Thank you all for you help and guidance with the replies! Learning a lot!

Where in CA are you? I just got my 67 GTO a month ago with the plan to make it fully daily drivable here in LA.
Hi Riley, I'm up in Northern CA, Near San Jose area. Congrats on the GTO! I have to ask though. Did you have any issues bringing it into CA (if you bought it out of state). Also, it's been mentioned here a few times with the compression ratio. Are you having any issues with the 91 octane we have? Not sure what engine your GTO has. Any advice?

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Instg8tor - "In Cali i would be looking for an AC and/or convertible car or one that has been converted. Also you will probably want an automatic preferably with an OD transmission upgrade, and at least front disc brakes. Also power steering if it is a Gen1. Be sure to check the rear window seal and the panel below it for any water leaks and rust also make sure it has all good soft rubber door and window seals."

Thank you for the information! And yes, I'm on the search for one with A/C and the 400 or 455 engine. And totally agree with you on changing the front brakes to discs. I'm curious do you have a guestimate on how much that costs to do at a mechanic? Also, I'm planning on getting an automatic. Will be weird as I've been only driving manuals for the most part.

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Pontiac Jim -

Thank you for all tips! I had a question for you and hopefully it's not too obvious. I'm trying to find out more information on the 400 and 455 engine. If it's been rebuilt, do you recommend doing a compression test at a mechanic before buying to make sure it's not above 9.0? Usually I do compression tests on cars to make sure they cylinder linings aren't cracked (porsches), but I'm not used to measuring the rating if that makes sense? Is there a website that talks about this in more detail especially for pontiac engines?

Apologies for the gen1 / gen2 comment. I did get that from the wiki guides and posts flying around the internet. I'm used to that talk from sports cars as well so it kinda stuck :).

Thanks again all!
 

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GTO_HighFive: "Apologies for the gen1 / gen2 comment. I did get that from the wiki guides and posts flying around the internet. I'm used to that talk from sports cars as well so it kinda stuck."

PJ: Anyone can add to Wiki and it is obvious that a non-GTO person wrote the article. There are ONLY 2 Generations of GTO's if you gotta use that silly millennium generation term. 1st Generation GTO 1964-1974. 2nd Generation GTO 2004-2006. :yesnod:


GTO_HighFive: "I'm trying to find out more information on the 400 and 455 engine. If it's been rebuilt, do you recommend doing a compression test at a mechanic before buying to make sure it's not above 9.0?"

PJ: Keep in mind that your experience with Porsche should not be confused with Pontiac - apples and oranges in comparison. You may be highly disappointed in the heavy, lumbering, and poor handling/braking attributes of the GTO as measured by the Porsche experience. My guess is that once you get your seat in one, you will want to do a number of upgrades in an attempt to "fix" or improve these issues. This can be done to some extent, but this will cost additional $$$ above your projected budget on the car's purchase.

Pontiac offered their engines in a range of compression ratio's from the factory. The GTO and/or high performance engines were the engines with the higher advertised 10.5-10.75 compression ratio's. Actual out the door compression ratio's were up to 1/4 a point of compression less. The optional engines could be ordered having lower compressions. Compression ratio's dropped after 1970 to meet emissions requirements, so if someone has dropped in a later replacement engine, it may have a low compression engine.

Doing a compression check may or may not indicate a lower compression engine. The camshaft events can have an effect on the dynamic compression and you can have a lower compression reading on a higher compression engine. So a compression check can be used to give you some idea of the engine's compression ratio, or even its condition, as you know.

Generally, the way to lower compression on a Pontiac engine is done 2 ways, piston cc's or cylinder head cc's. Pontiac used flat top pistons in all their engines and varied the compression by opening up the combustion chamber and adding more cc's to lower compression. So you may find a factory high compression engine not having its original factory heads and substituted with a set of later model heads having larger chambers to lower compression. The second method is to add more cc's to the valve reliefs or use a dished piston with the original numbers matching heads of the high compression GTO engine. These are aftermarket forged pistons readily available from several sources. This is preferred with original numbers matching engines/heads and cars.

Pontiac also used the same engine code letters multiple times over the span of their engine production, so identifying the engine by this 2-letter code may not always be accurate. Heads have a 2/3-digit code on the center exhaust outlet to identify them. There are also casting dates to verify. Most 400CI engines built before 1975 are good, the later 1975 blocks are weaker and not good for high performance builds - unless a Trans-Am engine with the "XX" casting.

The 455CI will most likely be a low compression engine IF stock. Again, most will be tweaked on the side of performance and compression boosted. You will find a much higher percentage of 400CI engines over 455's. Again, same with the head cc's and/or piston dome selection.

In my opinion, trying to find that "perfect" driver may be tough. You don't really know the condition of the engine whether it is original or rebuilt unless you have the documentation for review. If you get an original car/engine that has not been apart - you will get a used engine and you do not know its condition internally. Most were "used" hard unless it was a documented car owned by a little old lady who never went above 50 MPH. Timing chains used a nylon teeth on an aluminum gear up to about 1971 and wore out by 60,000 miles. The oiling system is sited as a problem, not because it is poor, but in my opinion, those hard launches most people do with a GTO sloshes oil and may uncover the oil pick-up screen and suck in air momentarily. Eventually rod bearing wear takes its toll from both higher RPM's and an occasional oil starvation second or 2 - and lack of regular oil changes. But, you won't know this without inspecting the bottom end.

I suggest you do all you can and take the time to study and learn about these cars before purchasing one. I would set my purchase date about 1 year out so I could get a good learning curve under my belt and select a purchase that meets my needs. It may be a factory original car, a "resto-mod," or a Lemans/Tempest body that fits the bill.

Purchase these books, Pontiac Muscle Performance 1955-1979 by Pete McCarthy, and Pontiac GTO Restoration Guide 1964-1972 by Paul Zazarine. This will help to answer a number of your questions and familiarize you with the GTO - 1st Generation. :thumbsup:
 

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I understand what you are looking for. I know of a 1967 GTO that might fit what you are looking for in a driver type of vehicle. If interested, please email me at : [email protected]. Thanks...
 

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I've been using my GTO's as daily drivers for almost 40 years. I've put over 130,000 miles on my '67 convertible alone. When properly maintained, and if kept in good condition, these cars are as or more reliable than contemporary vehicles. They have more wind noise, and are more primitive, and don't have cup holders. That said, they are comfortable and reliable. I dropped the compression in my '67 to about 9:1 by installing 87cc cylinder heads. I also installed a 2.56 rear gear for high speed driving and economy. I consistently get over 20 mpg at 75-80 mph. If you get a stock early GTO, it will not be happy on CA 91 octane fuel. The compression needs to come down or the octane will need to be raised. I have an '05 Toyota pickup as my 'new' vehicle, but the newest CAR I've ever owned is my '67 GTO. Hope this helps. My cars are all points ignition and carbureted, BTW.
 

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Over the last few months I put a few 1000 miles on my 72. It has a five speed now so cruising on the highway is actually pleasant. It still has the bone stock engine so almost any gas will work without issues.

I am only concerned about leaving anywhere and having it dinged up, scratched or maybe stolen. No surprise there is little respect for anyone’s property these days. Mechanically and comfort wise, I enjoy the purely “analog” experience… ( Ok, it does have a modern stereo).. Oh- no…I didn’t hack up the original dash…
 

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The '71 on up cars have the advantage of lower compression and run fine on today's gas. The '64-'70 cars, not so much!
 

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Nine years driving after restoration without a door ding ( crossing my fingers, and knocking on the wood dash). I always park away and walk but it never fails i will come out and there is a car next to me. Always someone that wanted to check it out so they have respect for it. half the time they catch me and ends up in a story of how their dad/uncle had one just like it back in the day and they remember it as a kid. three have turned into serious offers for the car. if i could drive it all year i would not want it to be show quality but as nice a body and finish as i could afford knowing it may take some road and lot wear from being daily driven. Most people do have respect for a classic, but no use chancing it over a little exercise walking from the back of the lot.
 
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