NHRA Record Holder! 1967 Pontiac GTO

This 1967 Pontiac GTO, known as the “Limelighter” looks familiar. Who knows, maybe I saw it in a Hot Rod Magazine years ago – it looks like a lot of drag cars from my youth. And it was in fact written up in Muscle Car Review but that was in 2004. Let’s take a trip down memory lane with a closer look at this GTO “HO” quarter-miler; it is located in St. Paul, Minnesota, and is available here on eBay for a current bid of $40,000, reserve not yet met. I’ll apologize in advance for the images, several were taken out of focus.

The seller states that this GTO has only seen 5,500 miles, they were probably run up a 1/4 of a mile at a time. This Pontiac set a D/S (stock eliminator class) record of 12.31 seconds in 1968. There is not too much information included in the listing about the engine but we do know that it is a 400 CI “HO” V8 that originally generated 360 gross HP. Since this car raced in stock eliminator class, the engine should be altered no more than whatever modification range was allowed for its classification. And I’m far from the one to correctly decipher NHRA class requirements. The seller states, “The original numbers matching motor was just completely gone through and is ready to go”. Which honestly means nothing without a more thorough description of what “gone through” entailed. The transmission employed is a Turbo-Hydramatic 400, three-speed automatic unit but it doesn’t sound as if it’s original to the car, the listing a bit confusing on that matter. No telling what this Poncho is using for rear gears, probably safe to assume they’re pretty steep. We’ll run with the belief that this Tin Indian gets up and goes.

The interior, other than the gear selector, appears as mostly original and stock. It’s in fine nick other than where the piping on the driver’s seatback is dislodged – a typical wear problem. An aftermarket tach and auxiliary gauges have been installed, an expected move for a drag car. Interestingly, the gauges have been dash installed in the slots for the radio and heater/defroster – unnecessary items on the strip, instead of attached to the lower edge of the dash. It’s a nice installation job!

The first thing noted about the exterior of this goat is that it is a two-door sedan body style, what Pontiac called a “Sports Coupe”. The “B” pillar body style, as opposed to the more airy, no “B” pillar, “Sports Hardtop” makes sense as it helps maintain body rigidity for drag racing’s hard starts. Both Oldsmobile (Cutlass) and Buick (Skylark) offered this same body style, but not Chevrolet, their two-door Chevelle sedan went with a different roofline and the availability was only on entry-level “300” models. The seller mentions that this GTO has been stored in a climate-controlled environment for twenty-eight years and, as a result, the body and finish look absolutely fine. I wouldn’t anticipate rust/rot being a problem but guard-rail mishaps do happen at the track – no evidence here, however. The seller claims what looks like a Linden Green Metallic finish to be original. The paint has an aged lacquer look about it but still presents well with a noticeable reflection. The Limelighter lettering is still sharp-edged and clear. Pretty much the only way to accomplish such graphics in the ’60s was with a talented sign painter who had a steady hand.

This drag-race GTO is a great testament to the past. I haven’t been to a drag race in years and probably wouldn’t recognize most of what I would see anyway. But this Pontiac takes me back to time spent at numerous mid-Atlantic dragstrips and the machinations of budget racing tinkerers who just wanted to go a little bit faster than the other guy.

The seller has quite a bit of documentation surrounding this car, so take some time and check out the entire listing. I wouldn’t recommend vintage racing a car like this, it’s too risky, mishaps occur. But this former racer would be fun for a little tire chirping, cruise action don’t you think?

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  1. Steve R

    Nice car. Even though it’s competitive life is over I hope it is left in its current condition. Not many race cars from that era survive, let alone in this condition. It’s earned a life of leisure where it gets trotted out to car shows and the occasional exhibition run at a nostalgia race.

    Steve R

    Like 17
  2. Bruce M

    Interesting that it retains its passenger front seat but the heater coil and hoses have been removed.

    • Steve R

      NHRA rules mandate that the interior remains intact.

      Steve R

      Like 5
    • Gus Fring

      What is a “heater coil”?

      Like 3
      • Weasel

        It was a very special style of heater used in the snow belt by Pontiac in 1967. They were rare back then and more so now.

        Like 5
      • David Buswell


        Like 1
    • karl

      Maybe the seats had to stay in for the stock class rules ? I never went to any drag tracks , so I don’t know the rules for classes.

      Like 2
  3. Brian K.

    I owned a ’67 back in 1988. It was Mariner Turquoise with a 3 speed. These didn’t hit the stratosphere like the other muscle cars. This one looks pretty clean inside and out. I’d check that frame just to be sure.

    Like 1
  4. Stangalang

    Heater core?? Anyways I’ve got an old phr magazine with this car and seems like back in the day she was on top of her game of course with the right driver.

    Like 5
  5. 427Turbojet 427Turbojet Member

    This car lived in my small (1600 people) home town in the early 1970s. It was before I was of driving age, but I would stand with my bike and drool when it drove by. I never really knew the owner, but vaguely recall someone saying he was the original owner. Also recall some of the older kids talking about no sound deadeners or seam sealers, gotta save weight you know! I never heard of the owner beating on it, only saw it cruise around once in a while. Always wondered whatever became of it.

    Like 5
  6. JoeNYWF64

    Why take out the heater?
    How much weight are you saving?
    & can’t a core assist in cooling if you turn on the blower full?

    • Steve R

      Stock eliminator guys will shave anything that will save weight. They are borderline fanatics when looking for a competitive advantage. If you ever talk to one that runs in a competitive class you would be surprised what they will do. A few friends run that stock, there are some engine builders that will only leave one set of rings off the pistons to reduce drag, take the foam and springs out of the back and passenger seats just to name a few tricks. That’s why a 340 Dodge Dart with replacement TRW pistons, 9” slicks, un-ported heads, original equipment carb, stock cast iron intake manifold, stock lift and duration camshaft will run 10.40’s in the quarter mile.

      Steve R

      Like 7
  7. dkraycik

    They were actually rated at 335 hp with the 4 barrel, 360 with the 3 two barrels.

    Like 2
    • Steve R

      Th last year for 3 x 2’s was 1966.

      Steve R

      Like 3
    • Randy Bradway

      400HO was rated at 360HP.

  8. Troy s

    Very nice, a for real stock eliminator from the sixties, still livin’ in the same pair of jeans. It may have looked like the GTO down the street but that’s where it ends. There’s no telling what the guy did to get a goat to turn low twelves, literally, and stock eliminator is an extreme science anyways. Great strip terror.

    Like 3
  9. Marty Parker

    The standard engine for the GTO in 67 was 335 HP. Then a 265 HP 2BBL carb as a no cost option. Next was the 360 HP (HO) and the Ram Air also rated at 360 HP but with a little hotter cam, which is what this car has.

    Like 2
  10. john hugh

    would be d/sa record not d/s

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