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Driver-Quality Restoration: 1966 Pontiac GTO

The Pontiac GTO achieved legendary status as enthusiasts recognized it as the first genuine muscle car. Tidy examples are highly sought because the early GTO offers a perfect blend of looks and performance. This 1966 model recently emerged after a driver-grade restoration, and its presentation is sure to turn heads. It needs nothing but a new owner who will appreciate all it offers. The GTO is listed here on eBay in Poway, California. Bidding has raced beyond the reserve to $25,600, with time remaining if you wish to make a play for this classic.

After spending its first two years as an options package, the GTO was granted separate model status in 1966. Pontiac produced it on the A-Body platform, and I rate these cars as the purest and best-looking to emerge across five generations of GTO production. The seller recently put significant time and effort into performing a driver-quality restoration on a rust-free Californian candidate, which presents well. Its Starlight Black paint shines beautifully, looking deep enough to step into. The seller says it isn’t perfect, but its condition is in keeping with the car’s recent restoration history. Dark shades are excellent for exposing panel inconsistencies and damage, but this car is as straight as an arrow. The tight and consistent gaps suggest the seller paid much attention to alignment to produce the best possible result. The underside shots reveal floors and a frame that are as tidy as the exterior, with only the occasional spot of dry surface corrosion. The sparkling chrome provides a stunning contrast to the Black paint, and the tinted glass looks spotless. The Cragar wheels aren’t original, but they perfectly suit this GTO’s character.

Powering this GTO is a 389ci V8 that would originally have sent 335hp to the Safe-T-Track rear end via a four-speed manual transmission. The winning bidder receives power assistance for the steering and front disc brakes, meaning the driver doesn’t need to muscle this muscle car. Performance was all you might expect, with this Pontiac storming the ¼-mile in 14.5 seconds in its prime. The seller admits the car isn’t numbers-matching, although they have kept the car as faithful to its creators as possible. The engine received a recent rebuild using a “WT” period-correct engine block mated to “093” heads. The process was thorough, utilizing forged rods, resurfaced heads with hardened seats, new pistons, and other assorted goodies to ensure the engine is rock-solid. They used as many factory-correct peripherals as possible, although the car now features an aluminum radiator, an Edelbrock carburetor, an electric fuel pump, and a Petronix ignition and coil. The transmission received new bearings and seals, but it does drip slightly. Otherwise, the GTO is in excellent mechanical health and is a turnkey proposition for its new owner.

The Pontiac’s interior presentation is as impressive as the rest of the vehicle courtesy of a retrim. The driver’s seat base has wrinkling on the outer edge that a meticulous new owner may seek to address, but it has no other significant cosmetic shortcomings. The dash and faux woodgrain are spotless, as is the pad. There is no carpet wear and no cracked plastic. Functional items requiring attention include slightly adjusting the Hurst shifter linkages, installing the wiper motor, and diagnosing why the tach needle bounces. The original owner ordered this beauty with air conditioning, although the original components made way for a new vintage system during the build. The seller added a retro-style aftermarket stereo, but there are no other visible modifications.

I typically am not drawn to cars wearing Black paint, but this 1966 Pontiac GTO is the equivalent of an automotive magnet. It looks stunning, and it will undoubtedly attract attention wherever it goes. Therefore, I’m unsurprised that it has already received twenty-one bids. I believe that figure will rise significantly before the hammer falls, and I expect the price to comfortably top $35,000 by the auction’s end. I will temper that prediction by pointing out that values have softened over the past year, but whether that trend will continue is unclear. That’s why buying a car can involve a leap of faith, but it looks like one plenty of people are willing to take. Would you?


  1. Neal Jacobsen

    Yes, I would take the leap on this one. I would want to test drive it first, of course, but it is a beautiful G.T.O. Black used to be my favorite color until I tried to a black pickup clean. 3 minutes after cleaning it, it looked like you should clean it! Enough of that!
    It looks to be a great car for the new owner.

    Like 7
  2. Mike Halbrook

    This is a twin to my ’66. I did changed it to a 4 speed and returned all the original A/C components that were removed by the previous ower. Oddly, the factory carb never ran that good so I was forced to put on a tri-power on it!
    More of a cruiser than a hot rod.

    Like 6
  3. Neal Jacobsen

    Did you have trouble linking all 3 carbs? Some people did and I was wondering how tough it was. I think timing them also.

    Like 1
    • Mike Halbrook

      It is a mechanical linkage set up running the center carb and the other two progressively kicking in. A guy helped me set them up…once they were dialed in it was the best running carb car I owned.

      Like 7
    • ACZ

      The center carb is the primary, the two end carbs are the secondaries. Original linkage had the secondaries operated by vacuum diaphragms. Mechanical linkage sometimes replaced the original. Whichever was used, the operation is simple enough.

      Like 3
      • Wally

        Vacuum secondaries we’re used on cars with automatic transmissions, mechanical were used on standard transmissions. There was confusion on that when I was restoring my 66 convertible.

        Like 0
  4. Stan

    35k is a good buy i dare say.
    Love the lines, and long trunk on these beauties. 😎 4spd 🙌

    Like 9
  5. TorinoSCJ69

    This is a winner in big part to a caring and meticulous owner- with a dealer or flipper there is no history or anyone who could answer questions. Far less risk that way.
    To me this offers opportunity to give a good Home to and continue the care of a beautiful classic.

    I would seriously consider this one.

    Like 0
  6. John Frazier

    What am I missing? The reserve is below $25,600 and there’s an expectation of $35k? I would expect higher pricing on a 66 Goat.

    Like 1
  7. Thomas

    I had a goat in 65, 389 4 speed tri-power car had so much torque that the mounting brackets on the upper rear end tore off the frame taking a chunk of frame with it while still attached to the brackets! Had a welding shop called Raceweld put things back together and reinforce everything.

    Like 1
  8. Thomas L. Kaufman

    My pick for today. Definitely looks like a keeper, but with a caveat, a REAL CLOSE inspection and test drive would have to come before forking out any cash.

    Like 2
  9. John M.Stecz

    Great looking car,good deal.too bad it’s black.

    Like 0
  10. C Force

    The engine is 99.9% numbers matching,the block is a 65′(335hp)389 and the heads are the correct(093-66 389 65cc)for that year only.you really gotta appreciate the head work done,having hardened seats installed for unleaded gas.that kind of work isn’t cheap and takes a very good machine shop to do it.This car is a solid 2 for sure and the black paint looks excellent.not easy to maintain though and the hardest color to buff w/o making swirl marks in it.

    Like 1
  11. ACZ

    It’s damned hard to beat the combination of black and chrome.

    Like 3
  12. John B. Traylor

    A friend of mine at work bought one of these and took me for a ride, all I can say is WOW.!

    Like 0
  13. Mike Schwagel

    I’d like to bid 29500

    Like 0
  14. eric22t

    ok ok if i gotta get rid of my mopar hat and wear a gm one these are my first choice to own. and i do like the stacked headlamps. this has to be the best one i have seen in a coon’s age.

    Like 0

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