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Former Race Car! 1964 Pontiac GTO Tri-Power

Pontiac took the market by storm in 1964 with its new mid-size muscle car, the GTO. It led to a performance car revolution that would last into the early 1970s. Sales expectations were grossly underestimated, and Pontiac would see 32,405 of the hot cars in just the first year. This edition has its original Tri-Power carburetor set up and was a fixture on the Southern California drag strip back in the day. Located in Anaheim, California, this restored beauty is available here on craigslist for $80,000. T.J. has turned in yet another cool tip for us!

Based on the new Tempest/LeMans platform, the GTO was available as a coupe, hardtop, and convertible in 1964. A 389 cubic inch V8 was standard fare, and 8,245 copies were built with the triple 2-barrel carburetor arrangement known as Tri-Power. That enabled the engine to produce 348 horsepower right off the showroom floor. The car would be a huge success and sales would approach 100,000 units in annual sales just two years later.

The seller’s GTO has a lot of history. It was purchased new in Oregon (to bypass smog requirements) and moved to Southern California where it spent time as a Winter National Stock D entry in the late 1960s. The car wears rare Sunfire Red paint which was a short-lived color on the 1964 order form and not the color the original owner wanted. The seller has PHS documentation on this vehicle and the claimed 18,000 miles are said to be accurate (it spent much of its life on a trailer going from one track to the next).

This machine is numbers matching including the 4-speed manual transmission. While another tranny is currently in the car, the original will come with the sale. The seller believes that no more than five of these Tri-Power 4-speeds were built in this color and it could have the lowest mileage of any of them that survive today. The seller provides a long and detailed history of the auto, plus photos of it during its racing days. The car was stored in 1970 after failing to produce at the Winter Nationals that year and sat until a restoration was done decades later.

This Pontiac has been repainted in its original color and looks good given that the photos are low-resolution. But there is a blotch above the windshield trim that may be tricky to repaint. The black interior also looks quite good, and the vehicle will come with some memorabilia, including a set of racing slicks and 8MM movies from the car doing its thing more than 55 years ago. An interesting automobile with an impressive track record!

Comments

  1. Avatar photo Fahrvergnugen Member

    Lemme see…18,000 miles @ 3/4 per use = 24,000 down-and-back quarter miles…that’s a lot of tires and a bunch of teardowns…😉

    Like 9
  2. Avatar photo Barzini Member

    I know all about checking to wrong box after erroneously assuming which shade my wife wanted. But this is much cooler color and a much better car than the one I bought.

    What a great history this car has. Excellent write up and find from T.J..

    Like 10
    • Avatar photo RMac

      My coach in middle school PAL football had a 64 GTO convertible in this color he bought new and still has it . Not sure what engine was in it but it had a stick and everyone in the league was in awe of it

      Like 0
  3. Avatar photo Barzini Member

    I have experience checking the wrong box after erroneously assuming which shade my wife wanted. But this is a way cooler color and a better car than the one I bought.

    What a great history this car has. Excellent write up and find from T.J..

    Like 0
  4. Avatar photo Steve R

    Cool old race car. Too bad it was repainted, it would be more interesting and likely more valuable if it still had its original lettering and hadn’t been refinished. The asking price seems like a stretch.

    Steve R

    Like 7
  5. Avatar photo Tracy

    It’s worth the price of admission just for the racing history!

    Like 0
  6. Avatar photo Roger Upton

    Wow someone messed that up. Like Steve R, said should have left it alone or if it needed repainted put it back as raced.

    Like 1
  7. Avatar photo 19sixty5 Member

    Sunfire Red is indeed a rare color, more rare than a 65 in Iris Mist. Not being from California, what smog requirements were in place in 1964 that the owner purchased the car in OR? I thought all the CA smog requirements began in 1966. Nice old GTO, but they are reaching at $80k. It was advertised at $85k a while back. Now if that car won the Winternationals or other major event(s), it’s value might be closer to that $80k. Lots of nice documentation though!

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo Roman Macias

      You’re right about the smog year being 1966.

      Like 3
    • Avatar photo 3Deuces

      My Fremont, CA built 1965 GTO’s original 389 tri-power engine has a factory installed closed positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) system. According to the Page # 333 of the Pontiac GTO Restoration Guide, this emissions device was installed effective January 1, 1964 on all tri-power GTOs for sale in CA.

      Like 2
  8. Avatar photo Dan

    The documentation might be as impressive as the car itself. While some people might prefer to leave the car with its racing livery, I like the restoration to its original color. But the price is steep for a car with no provenance involving a well known celebrity.

    Like 4
  9. Avatar photo John Zeglin

    I have been out of GTO’s for the most part now for quite a while but my 64 from California back in the 70’s had some unique smog related items which I think included unique tri-power air cleaner bases,

    This car has a lot going for it especially with the rare color, first year GTO and Tri-power and 4 speed. I am not sure if its for sale by the same owner still but I think it has been on and off the market for awhile. I could sure make room in my garage for it.

    Like 1
  10. Avatar photo Mike76

    Super cool Goat. Very rare exterior color and the racing history is awesome. Agree with others, the car would probably have been worth more to someone like a drag racing enthusiast if the lettering had been left on the sheetmetal. Although, it does look pretty repainted and the Pontiac appears well sorted and cared for, I think their asking price is a tad bit optimistic.

    Like 1
  11. Avatar photo jam46

    I think that the blotch is a shadow from the camera.

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo BDurr

      I agree. Picture 24 shows a pretty much flawless top.

      Like 1
  12. Avatar photo Harry

    While the race history is interesting it really doesn’t contribute to the inflated asking price. Outside of being rare for the paint color this particular GTO isn’t anything more special than the other multitude of 64 goats available on the market. Had this been a Royal Bobcat sponsored race car with a winning documented pedigree then the 80k might be justifiable. The actual value will be determined by the market and I suspect it will be closer to the 40-50k mark.

    Like 7
  13. Avatar photo novawagon

    Will I know what happened to one of the Sunfire Red that was a twin to this one. It was totaled in early 1966.I always liked that color.

    Like 2
  14. Avatar photo HarryQ

    I agree with the other Harry that a Royal Bobcat drag racer would be more valuable, but I doubt any of those survived a year with their original motor.

    For a street car, the post sedans were a much better choice. The frameless glass side windows and more flexible body made for leaks when you went through the automatic car wash, and wind whistling from the side windows on the freeway.

    An alarming number of cars like this, and the full-size Chevys and Pontiacs with hot motors were totaled in single-car accidents. In Detroit in 1964, there were enough wrecked 421 full-sized Pontiacs that finding a nearly-new motor to swap for the 389 CID over a Saturday was pretty easy, and since you were selling the nearly-new 389, amazingly affordable.

    Like 1
  15. Avatar photo Jon.in.Chico

    Neighbor raced one … he’d always apologize when he started it up to put it on the trailer … I told him it was music to the ears …

    Like 2

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