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Original 455 HO: 1970 Pontiac GTO

While it might not be essential, there are plenty of boxes that it is nice to tick when the time comes for someone to choose the next restoration project that they are considering tackling. It is a bonus if the car is desirable. Finding a vehicle that is original and unmolested is also a plus. A rust-free status never goes astray, while being numbers-matching is the icing on the cake. This 1970 Pontiac GTO seems to meet all of those criteria, and it is a classic that is just begging to be restored. Barn Finder rex m spotted the Pontiac for us, so thank you so much for that, rex. It is located in Apache Junction, Arizona, and has been listed for sale here on Craigslist. Hand the seller $22,000, and you could become the next proud owner of this beauty.

The Cardinal Red paint is looking a bit faded now, but that is both bad and good news. It means that a repaint is going to be on the cards for this classic, but it is indicative of the environment in which the Pontiac has spent its life. It is currently in Arizona, but the balance of its life has been spent in sunny California. While both climates can be murder on paint and trim, it tends to be very kind to steel. That has been the case here because while the paint is baked and the original White vinyl top is a mere memory, the GTO has managed to remain rust-free. The floors and trunk pan are original, and both are said to be in good condition. The supplied photos only show one side of the car, and while they show some rust in the lower rear quarter panel, the lower front fender, and near the back window, all of these issues could potentially be addressed with patches rather than full panel replacement. The chrome and trim look presentable for a survivor-grade car, although some pieces might require a trip to the platers if a high-end restoration is on the agenda. The Pontiac rolls on its original Rally II wheels, and these would benefit from some restoration work. The original owner ordered the GTO with tinted glass, and this has no significant issues.

The Pontiac’s Sandalwood interior trim demonstrates the sort of deterioration that you might expect from long-term UV exposure. That means that it will require a full restoration, and I think it will need virtually everything if it is to present at the highest level. Trim kits are available, and the quality of some of these is extremely impressive. Of course, they also don’t come cheap, with high-end kits costing around $3,000. That’s pretty eye-watering, but once installed, the GTO’s interior should look factory fresh. This is a car that deserves that sort of pampering because the original owner equipped the vehicle nicely. As well as bucket seats and a console, it features air conditioning, power windows, a remote driver’s mirror, an AM/FM radio with a rear speaker, a tilt wheel, a power trunk release, and an electric clock.

One of the aspects of this era’s performance cars that I find fascinating is that manufacturers tended to be a bit “frugal” with the truth. This GTO features the 455ci “HO” V8, which Pontiac claimed produced 360hp. Plenty of contemporary media outlets questioned that figure, believing that the truth was probably 20hp higher. Backing this 455 is a 3-speed automatic transmission, while the car was ordered with a Safe-T-Track rear end, power steering, power front disc brakes, and the Ride and Handling Package. The result was a car that could hold its head high in the best of company. Point it at a ¼ mile, and the journey would take all of 14.6 seconds. The news here seems to all be good. The GTO is a numbers-matching car, and the engine does run. It isn’t clear whether it is roadworthy, but there’s no doubt that everything is going to require some significant cleaning and detailing if it is to present at its best once again. We just need to hope that this will be the extent of the required work, although the Pontiac’s potential value would make it worth going the extra yard to achieve mechanical perfection.

As we’ve seen, this 1970 Pontiac GTO seems to tick so many of the right boxes in the desirability stakes, and the original owner ticked the right boxes on the Order Sheet to create an awesome classic. All of this can easily be verified because included in the sale is the original Build Sheet, along with verifying documentation from the Pontiac Historic Services (PHS). If a closer inspection reveals the vehicle to be as good as the photos and listing seem to indicate, restoring it should not be a huge drama. With nicely restored and original HO-equipped examples easily fetching prices well above $60,000, this one should be well worth the time and effort.


  1. Steve R

    Great start for a project. Whoever bought this car new picked out some great options. It would have been nice to see the PHS documentation, I believe the copy of the window sticker would have shown if the car was a “customer order” rather than dealer stock.

    It’s always worthwhile pointing out that the 1970 455 HO is not the same as the 1971-72 455 HO’s which were more potent engines.

    Steve R

    Like 10
  2. Rustytech Member

    The top side looks pretty straight, if the underside and frame are comparable it looks like a good investment. Personally I liked the 68’s with the hideaway headlamps.

    Like 4
    • JoeNYWF64

      & I liked the ’68 & ’69 taillites better.

      Like 0
  3. Troy s

    It’s really too bad Pontiac didn’t have the ’71 version of the 455 HO in ’70. Imagine even better, the Super Duty 455 with higher compression, more aggressive cam timing, tuning, jetting, just less smog stuff in general. That would have been a real contender in my mind against the LS6 Chevelles and Stage 1 Buicks of 1970.
    Not in bad shape at all in my opinion, the dirtiest thing I see is the engine bay.

    Like 1
  4. Greg Goodwin

    This is a bit more than I have to spend for a builder, if I did, I’d be on my way!

    Like 0
  5. John B

    There’s about a golf ball sized “rust free” behind the passenger rear wheel opening .

    Nice car though!

    Like 1
  6. George Mattar

    Great colors. Only Crystal Turquoise and Burgundy are better in my opinion. $22,000 is a little steep. RAIV cars are struggling to reach $70,000 as seem at Mecum today. The automatic kills it for me. I had a 70 GTO 34 years ago. Base 350 hp with Turbo 400. Sold it because I wanted a 4 speed car.

    Like 1
  7. Dave Solarz

    From what I’ve read, they rated the HP and the torque about a thousand RPM’s off from where it produces the peak.

    Was the 455 HO available all year in the GTO or was it offered solely in the 4Q, like they did for the Judges?

    Like 0
  8. John Polacek

    I passed on a 70 conv with 455 4 spd, needed alot of work but was 700. Included was a rust free front clip that I needed for my 68. Didn’t have a place to put it. 1991 or so. Might be worth a bit now.

    Like 0

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