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Hello, I am new to this forum and thought I'd introduce myself. I have been a Pontiac guy ever since I could remember. I grew up in the late 80's while hot rodding various Pontiac powered incarnations. Back then it was pretty easy to find good factory performance parts in the local salvage yards and assemble something for Saturday night drags. :)

In 1988 my brother wanted a Pontiac for his own so he purchased a 1968 GTO convertible project that needed some work. We paid $800 for the car and took it home. It was mostly complete but needed a new top, paint job and some engine and mechanical work. So, I rebuilt the engine and drive train for him....(as well as brakes, suspension, steering etc) and he finished the rest as his budget would allow. He was 19 at the time.

Fast forward 15 years later, we both are married with children and living the life. :) Unfortunately the car wasn't holding up nearly as well and was showing it's age. The heater core leaked and rusted out the floor pan, the rear quarter panel had collision damage and the interior was falling apart. By that time we both lived in different cities so I wasn't around to help him work on the car and since he isn't mechanically inclined, he hired a shop to restore the car for him. That was about 12 years ago.

Every time I would see my brother, I would ask him about the car and he has always been nonchalant about it. "Oh, it's coming along okay....I need to call the shop and check on the status." It really baffled me how he could leave it there for that long....so much so that I wondered if he actually still owned the car. Maybe he sold it and just didn't know how to tell me. So, I let it slide and quit bugging him about it.

Then this past year I restored my father-in-law's 1961 Bel Air bubbletop 348 car. He is the original owner and the car was in bad shape. My family helped me and we did a frame off restoration and it came out beautiful. It was a 12 month project and we finished it this past March. Our dad was super excited to have the car back again and it's won several awards at local car shows.

My brother happened to stop by one of the recent car shows and saw how well the '61 came out. At that time he said he really wanted to get his car finished. I asked him if he still had the car and he said it was still at the restoration shop but he hadn't seen it in 2 years-ish. Last he checked, the guy hurt his back and was in the hospital and hasn't been able to work on the car. So, I suggested (very strongly) that we pick up the car immediately and I'll see what it will take to get it finished. We went to his shop and he wasn't there....neither was the car. The person that answered the door said the restoration guy lost his lease and the landlord threw his stuff (cars and parts) out in the street. A good Samaritan neighbor collected the items and stored it in his yard until the guy got better.

So, we went across the street but the gate was locked. We found a way to look over the fence and there was a yard full of cars....one of them looked vaguely like my brother's car. The body was separated from the chassis and mounted upside down on a home made rotisserie. My brother was able to locate the guy via cell phone and he explained that his health prohibited him from working on cars and agreed to let us pick it up. That was a sad day. The guy attempted to replace floor pans and the workmanship was fairly rough. To make matters worse, the chassis was left out in the elements and all the detail work from years before was ruined. It's going to have to be completely tore down and refinished.

The doors, fenders, hood, air cleaner, etc were nowhere to be found. The owner of the yard said he moved them over to his other property so we drove about 5 miles to find the rest of our parts. We found the doors and fenders. The hood was buried in the corner. The Ram Air pan was laying out on a pile of Thunderbird parts and the hood baffle was resting against the fence. We didn't find the inner fenders or core support but we did find a couple of boxes of misc parts such as master cylinder, steering box, window regulators, latches etc.

It's depressing just to talk about it. My brother was depressed as well. So much so that he didn't want to spend any more time and money on the car and asked me if I wanted to buy the car or part it out and split the revenue. So, for those of you that have read the story this far....here is where it starts to get better....

So, a project car is like a puppy to me....I have to bring it home. Especially when it's a GTO. So, I loaded it up in the trailer and agreed to his price and brought the car home. I was seriously thinking of parting out the car but my wife wanted to research it first so I agreed to let her send out for the PHS heritage information. Meanwhile, I started inspecting the car to assess it's situation. I remembered the car had a 4 pinion axle carrier with 4:33 rear gears. The transmission was a close ratio but I wasn't sure if it was an M21 or M22. Turns out it's the M22. The engine was not original to the car...I knew that from the WZ block code and 670 heads but the engine turns over and has good compression so I might be able to revive it. The Ram Air pan and hood baffle had light surface rust but cleaned up well.

The floor pans are rough looking and I had to modify the rear foot wells to get the body mounted back on the frame. However, there is no rust to be found anywhere. I checked the obvious spots....rockers, lower quarters, trunk and all have solid sheet metal in place. The floor braces are solid as well....so all the car really needs is new one piece floor pan and repair to LH quarter panel (collision damage).

Today we get our paperwork from PHS. Apparently Ram Air cars are fairly rare for '68. You guys probably knew this already but I had no idea. So, my wife is not allowing me to part out the car (which I really didn't want to do anyway). I explained to her that we don't have the original engine but she still wants me to restore the car anyway. I'll probably have to sell one of my other cars to generate the funds but I think it will be worth it. I have a few more months before my '55 Bel Air is finished so I'll start on this car sometime this fall.

Maybe I'll get lucky and be able to find a WY block and RAII heads....(yeah right...) :) The factory color is Verdoro Green. Black top, Black interior. Build sheet says it had a Stereo Tape Player....blah, blah, blah...Bench Seat. Has anyone seen a 68 GTO with a bench seat? It had buckets when my brother had it....

The car has the front disk brake option.
Also has a hood tach but I don't see that on the build sheet. Is that included in the "Rally Gauge Cluster & Clock" option? Box 48 option 4. I wonder if the hood tack was added later by one of the previous owners. The car was painted a creme color so of course I'll put it back to the original spec. I'll pretty much restore it to as near original as possible. I'll use the WZ engine and 670 heads until I can find the correct type. If it turns out to be an impossible to find part, then I'll just drive the car around with the wrong engine. :) Won't bother me all that much when the pedal is mashed to the floor. :thumbsup:

Now I am going to read some of the excellent threads on '68 restorations that I see in the sticky section. I hope you guys can help me out when I have technical questions. Should be fun. :lurk:
 

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Welcome! feel free and post a few more pics. your question concerning rally gauge and clock, to also have hood tach from the factory it would then have to be ordered separately, no big deal, many were also dealer installed, and of course many have been installed since the 60's.
 

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Welcome Shake n Bake! Nice to see another GTO brought back from the dead. Plenty of knowledgeable folks here to help you with any questions you may have and some of us have a few spare parts tucked away you may need. :thumbsup:

A Verdoro Green 68 convertible is one nice car! You may want to consider another rear gear or a five speed conversion though....those 4:33's are gonna be rough on the highway! :eek2:
 

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Welcome x2 from me. Very rare car. My source book says there were 92 MT and 22 Automatic Ram Air convertibles for '68. Sad that the original engine is gone, but still a keeper. Your 670 heads of course are the good 1967 heads with closed chambers.

It sounds like you know your way around a restoration. I would restore the body/interior/chassis etc. and just build a solid engine/trans/rear-end for cruising. I would pull the 4.33 rear and put it in storage and go with something else. ALKYGTO mentioned the 5-speed which is a great alternative to get an over-drive 5th gear, but you will have to modify/cut your floor pan and some guys don't want to do that so as to keep their car pans original. For me, it would not matter because I would not be selling the car anyway, and I would want a car I could drive on the highway and long distances without killing the engine with upper RPM's. I'd sell the M22 -which is the highly desirable close ratio "rock crusher" at a good price and put the funds towards a TKO-600 5 speed transmission.

I'd get a 12-bolt with some 3.73 gears as a replacement rear-end.

The engine, well, that depends on what you are looking for. You will find many builds and recommendations on the forums, but with a convertible, I'd be more apt to build a dependable high powered street engine rather than an all out "rip the hides off" street/strip engine that would limit my cruisin' time with the top down.:thumbsup:

Sounds like an awesome project in the making and I think I can say that we on this forum enjoy being part of it as you share your build and hit us up with questions and suggestions -we may even be able to save you some grief because we have already experienced it for you.:smilielol:
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Welcome Shake n Bake! Nice to see another GTO brought back from the dead. Plenty of knowledgeable folks here to help you with any questions you may have and some of us have a few spare parts tucked away you may need. :thumbsup:

A Verdoro Green 68 convertible is one nice car! You may want to consider another rear gear or a five speed conversion though....those 4:33's are gonna be rough on the highway! :eek2:
Agreed. The 4.33:1 gear was a screamer back when we first got the car. It was pretty much a stop light to stop light machine. I prefer 3.73 or 3.90 gears for the street. :)

Welcome x2 from me. Very rare car. My source book says there were 92 MT and 22 Automatic Ram Air convertibles for '68. Sad that the original engine is gone, but still a keeper. Your 670 heads of course are the good 1967 heads with closed chambers.

It sounds like you know your way around a restoration. I would restore the body/interior/chassis etc. and just build a solid engine/trans/rear-end for cruising. I would pull the 4.33 rear and put it in storage and go with something else. ALKYGTO mentioned the 5-speed which is a great alternative to get an over-drive 5th gear, but you will have to modify/cut your floor pan and some guys don't want to do that so as to keep their car pans original. For me, it would not matter because I would not be selling the car anyway, and I would want a car I could drive on the highway and long distances without killing the engine with upper RPM's. I'd sell the M22 -which is the highly desirable close ratio "rock crusher" at a good price and put the funds towards a TKO-600 5 speed transmission.

I'd get a 12-bolt with some 3.73 gears as a replacement rear-end.

The engine, well, that depends on what you are looking for. You will find many builds and recommendations on the forums, but with a convertible, I'd be more apt to build a dependable high powered street engine rather than an all out "rip the hides off" street/strip engine that would limit my cruisin' time with the top down.:thumbsup:

Sounds like an awesome project in the making and I think I can say that we on this forum enjoy being part of it as you share your build and hit us up with questions and suggestions -we may even be able to save you some grief because we have already experienced it for you.:smilielol:
We are still thinking about the direction we want to go on this one. On one hand, I like to restore cars to as close to original spec as possible but without the original engine, What's the point? As weird as it sounds, it might bug me to know I have a "once upon a time" Ram Air car that was no longer.

Does anybody have any guesstimates as to what a '68 RA convertible without the original engine would be worth when it's finished? Here is a link to our last project so I'd be looking to improve on the build quality a bit compared to that one.
1961 Bel Air family project | 348-409.com Info Exchange Forum
That car appraised a bit north of $60k when it was finished so that was nice. However, that car stays in the family so the appraised value only means something for insurance reasons...

So, getting back to the GTO.
I've spoken with a guy locally who has a RAV engine ready to go. That would be cool. In addition, I know of a guy who has two RAV engines in the midwest so perhaps I could purchase one of those engines? (just thinking out loud here...)

So, let's imagine that I restore the car to a fairly high level and run with the built 1967 engine. The 670 heads were flow ported by the folks at the GM proving grounds so it should run pretty nice. I think I have a HC-03 Cam from HO Racing Specialties in there now. Then I talk someone into selling me a RAV for that and stick it in there at a later date. THAT would be cool....wouldn't it? :)

I think I just convinced myself. Please share your thoughts and opinions if you have any....I won't be offended. I am always looking for my next great idea to be explained to me. :)

At any rate, here are some more pics.
I have decided that I am going to cut out the floor boards that were installed by the restoration shop. It looks like he pieced them in and brass brazed them in place. I prefer to wire feed weld because it looks nicer and more original. Plus, he got the contour wrong at the rear seat brace....that spot is supposed to be MUCH wider. I went to the local salvage yard today to scope out some 68 and 69 convertibles and I see that my car is missing the door jamb braces and the floors aren't quite right. So, that will be the first thing I fix.

Since the quarter panels are not rusted...just dented, I am going to try to bump the metal back into shape. This way there will be no evidence of quarter panel repair work seen from inside the trunk. The LH rear quarter is quite damaged though so I might not be able to fix it. I guess we'll see how it comes out. The trunk looks great....way better than any trunk that I've seen on any of my previous projects. Cowl, firewall, toeboards, windshield track, rockers (inner and outer) are all fantastic. I have one little area to fix in the LH door jam dog leg. That should be easy.

So, I am looking for door jamb braces...anyone have a pair of those? :)

Oh yeah....the pics.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Welcome! feel free and post a few more pics. your question concerning rally gauge and clock, to also have hood tach from the factory it would then have to be ordered separately, no big deal, many were also dealer installed, and of course many have been installed since the 60's.
I think you are right. I checked the hood closely and it's clear to me that someone cut the hole for the hood tach at a later date. They did a pretty good job though. It would be hard to spot with the components in place.

I also figured out the 'bench seat' question I had. The build sheet says that this car came with the 8 track player but was not available (NA) with a bench seat. So, since our car had buckets, the 8 track option was available. At least that is how PHS explained it to me. Makes sense.
 

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And a few more pics....
I'll start a 'restoration' thread when I get my 55 finished. I only have one rotisserie so I'll need to store the GTO until I am finished painting the 55 and put it down on the frame. That probably won't be until late summer. It's too hot to spray here right now. The paint will flash before I make it around the car. :) Oh well, it will give me some time to make up my parts list and get things ready. I find that my projects don't stall as easily if I have more parts on hand than I can install. Keeps me motivated to push ahead. Attempting a frame off project when funds allow hasn't really worked all that well for me in the past. :sleep: So, I like to have the majority of the funds before I start.
 

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Seems the body is in better starting condition than many. Considering putting a number on value, the lack of original engine is not going to hurt it that much, as date matching correct heads and correct coded dated blocks are out there. That is standard operating procedure in restoring such a rare car. Put anything else between the frame rails, and yes there is going to be a significant drop in value.

Can give a better idea of completed value to higher restoration standards, but need more info. You have noted PHS billing card notes Veduro green/ black, Ram Air engine, M21, HD STT, & 8 track. Is it a Pontiac plant car or a Baltimore build? what wheels? car come with PS? Any other options? Can you post a pic of the cowl tag, trying to understand what's going on there and when the car was built.
 

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Yeah, I would say a RAV engine would be a suitable replacement for your missing RAII powerplant....:biggrin2:

Found you a pair of RAII heads if you care to go back to original - http://www.ebay.com/itm/1968-68-GTO-FIREBIRD-NOS-RAM-AIR-II-2-HEADS-VALVES-ROUND-PORT-PONTIAC-RARE-/111695177212?hash=item1a018d25fc&vxp=mtr

Also if I remember correctly if your car had a bench seat from the factory (mine did and still does) it would have not had the floor bracing to mount the bucket seats so if you still have the factory floor pan you would be able to tell. If it had a bench and four speed the 8 track would mount directly under the dash and not on the front of the console as in the bucket seat cars

Very interesting project and you have some great pictures and posts. :thumbsup:

And you have a local salvage yard with 68 and 69 GTO convertibles in it?!? :eek:
 

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My .02, spending 25K to buy a near complete RAV engine makes little sense... even then not going to have a pair of A body RA V ex manifolds. There are laws of dimensioning returns tha come into play, when one takes an extremely rare & valuable vehicle and starts personalizing it,

Alky, the RAII heads Lance has listed in the eBay auction are later date service replacement heads and honestly, are frowned upon in a true restoration. There are numerous pair of nice originals out there with correct dates, most commonly dated D228 or D238, and priced for quite a bit less than the SR's listed on eBay. There are also several original WY coded blocks out their amongst fellow enthusiasts/restorers. Original RAII coded blocks were not cast on a bunch of different dates, just know of one. Have dealt with numerous RAII restorers. One contact I recently sold a few important detail parts to owns one of the 4 confirmed still existing RA II GTO converts. Very expensive and beautiful car.

Feel free and drop me a PM, Shake-N-Bake, can forward more information. Roger
 

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Seems the body is in better starting condition than many. Considering putting a number on value, the lack of original engine is not going to hurt it that much, as date matching correct heads and correct coded dated blocks are out there. That is standard operating procedure in restoring such a rare car. Put anything else between the frame rails, and yes there is going to be a significant drop in value.

Can give a better idea of completed value to higher restoration standards, but need more info. You have noted PHS billing card notes Veduro green/ black, Ram Air engine, M21, HD STT, & 8 track. Is it a Pontiac plant car or a Baltimore build? what wheels? car come with PS? Any other options? Can you post a pic of the cowl tag, trying to understand what's going on there and when the car was built.
Body tag says BT so I presume that means Baltimore?
Options listed are: Safe-T-Track rear axle of course,
Radio pushbutton and manual antenna
Stereo Tape Player
Rally II Wheels (would those be 6"x14" or 7"x 14"?)
Clock
Rally Gauge Cluster and Clock
Power Steering
Disc Brakes
G77 x 14 Red line tires

Then there is another sheet labeled "Special Equipment" where it says:
Ram Air (w/hyd. or close ratio 4 speed only, requires 4.33 axle) At least that is what I think it says..the print is real small...

Next line is 4 Speed Manual Transmission-Close Ratio-3.90 or 4.33 axles V8 only.

All I have at the moment is the 5 page fax from PHS. I will receive the official paperwork in the mail sometime next week most likely..


Here is a photo of the cowl tag.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Yeah, I would say a RAV engine would be a suitable replacement for your missing RAII powerplant....:biggrin2:

Found you a pair of RAII heads if you care to go back to original - 1968 68 GTO Firebird RAM Air II 2 Heads Valves Round Port Pontiac RARE | eBay

Also if I remember correctly if your car had a bench seat from the factory (mine did and still does) it would have not had the floor bracing to mount the bucket seats so if you still have the factory floor pan you would be able to tell. If it had a bench and four speed the 8 track would mount directly under the dash and not on the front of the console as in the bucket seat cars

Very interesting project and you have some great pictures and posts. :thumbsup:

And you have a local salvage yard with 68 and 69 GTO convertibles in it?!? :eek:
yes, I inquired about those heads. That seller also has the rest of the parts that I would need (NOS fitted block, intake and exhaust manifolds, carb etc) so we are talking numbers. Right now the total package price is hard to swallow but the added value to the car would make it a sound investment. It turns out that we were able to make contact with the survivors of the person sold the car to my brother back in late 80's so we are going to inquire if there is an old engine laying around somewhere. Not holding our breath....but it doesn't hurt to ask.

I misread the build sheet.....our car didn't have the bench seat. The paperwork says the 8 track player was not available with certain options packages and the bench seat. So that extra comment doesn't apply to our car.

I live in the Phoenix area. Desert Valley Auto has 3 or 4 convertibles in their yard and about 6 or 8 coupes (1968-1969). I know another salvage yard in Tucson that has several as well so I'll swing by there sometime in the future.
 

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My .02, spending 25K to buy a near complete RAV engine makes little sense... even then not going to have a pair of A body RA V ex manifolds. There are laws of dimensioning returns tha come into play, when one takes an extremely rare & valuable vehicle and starts personalizing it,

Alky, the RAII heads Lance has listed in the eBay auction are later date service replacement heads and honestly, are frowned upon in a true restoration. There are numerous pair of nice originals out there with correct dates, most commonly dated D228 or D238, and priced for quite a bit less than the SR's listed on eBay. There are also several original WY coded blocks out their amongst fellow enthusiasts/restorers. Original RAII coded blocks were not cast on a bunch of different dates, just know of one. Have dealt with numerous RAII restorers. One contact I recently sold a few important detail parts to owns one of the 4 confirmed still existing RA II GTO converts. Very expensive and beautiful car.

Feel free and drop me a PM, Shake-N-Bake, can forward more information. Roger
Thank you for the advice and kind offer to help.
PM sent. :)
 

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My .02, spending 25K to buy a near complete RAV engine makes little sense... even then not going to have a pair of A body RA V ex manifolds. There are laws of dimensioning returns tha come into play, when one takes an extremely rare & valuable vehicle and starts personalizing it,....
I think you are right. Plus I remember when I last heard a RAV engine run and thought it sounded a little too much like a BB Chevy. Just didn't have that special sound of a Pontiac....
 

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Discussion Starter #16
...

Can give a better idea of completed value to higher restoration standards, ....
I would be going for a restoration quality that exceeds my last build. (see photos below) My concern is that I don't get caught up in internet myths vs fact when I do the work. In the case of our father's '61 Bel Air, I had several people from the online forums that said it didn't have this or should have had that and they were not correct. Our dad worked at the dealership when this car was unloaded from the train and he bought it on the spot....drove it home right after his shift. I was lucky because while the car was in very rough shape..it was mostly complete so I was able to document finishes and the position of certain things. The 1961 Chevrolet models had two V8 options...small block and the W block. The VIN did not denote which engine was original to the car so a lot of guys fake it. There are other little detail things that only came on the 348 cars so those that know can tell the difference. I would like to become educated to the same degree about '68 GTOs if possible. Any advice would be appreciated.
 

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The bubbletop 61 looks amazing Shakenbake and even better that it is original to your family not many get that opportunity, especially with such a special car. I hope your GTO project comes out as nice as this one did. :thumbsup:
 

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The bubbletop 61 looks amazing Shakenbake and even better that it is original to your family not many get that opportunity, especially with such a special car. I hope your GTO project comes out as nice as this one did. :thumbsup:
Thanks. It was a great project and super fun to drive when finished. The 3 on the tree was very nostalgic to drive and that 348 moved that car along nicely. The best part was giving it back to our parents. I feel like we added to the story of the car for another generation or two.

I hope the GTO comes out just as nice or better, there always things that I could improve on so that would be my goal. However, I am not sure I have the time or patience to track down all the RAII parts that would be necessary. I understand they are rare engines but the asking prices are kinda unreasonable in my opinion. There can't be that huge of a market for those things. How many people like me are out there? Folks with a RAII GTO or Firebird that needs the engine....can't be that many. I would think the supply outweighs the demand but it appears to be the other way around. There must be people out there that buy those parts and never intend to use them...instead they hold them for ransom when someone comes along with the correct body/chassis. Kinda a bummer actually.

I have changed my mind several times about my goals and plans with the car so I'll have to keep working it through in my head until it's time to decide. I suppose I may try and sell the car as is to someone who is willing to hunt down all the rare engine items and put it back together. I am not sure what sort of value it has in it's current condition so I guess eBay would be a reasonable place to start. I could restore it myself and run the 1967 engine that I have but then I'd be hoarding a real RAII for someone that really want's to own one. If I am going to do that, then I would be better off by starting with a different car.

Not sure what to do yet...
 

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Do you have pics of the '67 engine and the numbers?
Does it run?
Would you consider selling it?
The block code is WZ VIN stamp reads 517053
Heads are 670

I built the engine back in 1989. It has never been started. It was a fairly aggressive street build. Quite a bit of parts from HO Racing Specialties including the HC-03 cam. It currently is set up with the 1.65 rockers but could easily run the 1.50 ratio if the engine turns out to be to much for the street.

I am not sure what I'll do with it at the moment. It all will depend on if I decide to look for a RAII engine. If I were to meet the owner of the 1967 Firebird that matches this engine then I'd consider a like for like swap just so they could have a numbers matching car.

I don't have any better photos other than what I posted earlier.
 
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