Restorable? Wrecked 1966 Pontiac GTO

If you go wandering around YouTube, you will find many hours of videos featuring classic cars that come to an untimely end. Some of these accidents are the result of a driver placing their ambitions ahead of their abilities, while others are due to plain bad luck. I don’t care which scenario was in play with this 1966 Pontiac GTO. All that I hope is that the occupants were able to emerge from the experience with their health intact. The current owner purchased the wreck intending to return it to its former glory, but it is at the end of a long line of projects that stretch before him. Therefore, he has decided that it should fall to a new owner to decide which path to follow. If you find yourself strangely drawn to this battered classic, you will find it located in Hudson, Florida, and listed for sale here on eBay. The auction opened at a buck, but twenty-eight bids have pushed it to $1,025 in a No Reserve listing. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder Larry D because his finely tuned radar spotted this GTO for us.

The owner claims that before the accident, this GTO was a $100,000 car. If it were pristine at that point, that figure wouldn’t be far from the mark. We know that it wasn’t 100% original because the Cowl Tag indicates that it originally wore Martinique Bronze on its gorgeous body. I suspect that the color change may have happened as part of a larger restoration, and the listing suggests that the owner at the time didn’t have a lot of time to enjoy the vehicle before it met an immovable object. That raises the question of whether the damage has taken the GTO beyond the point of no return. I tend to be an optimist, but there are some pretty worrying signs with this Pontiac. If the damage were confined to one corner, I would say that there’s half a chance that the next owner could save the car. However, there is evidence that impact shock has traveled the entire length of the body. This is apparent when you see the substantial kinks in the rear quarter panel, and the twisting forces mean that the trunk lid no longer fits correctly. So far, the omens aren’t great for this classic.

The GTO is often considered the father of the muscle car, and when you shoehorn a 389ci V8 pumping out 335hp into the engine bay of a vehicle that weighs 3,618lbs, that claim seems valid. It isn’t clear whether the engine is numbers-matching, but this drivetrain hadn’t seen a lot of work before cruel fate stepped in. The previous owner had rebuilt the 389, the M21 transmission, and the 3.73 rear end just before the accident. The drivetrain had accumulated a mere 2,300 miles before it all went wrong, which is barely more than break-in miles. This, combined with the condition of the undamaged panels and paint, made me wonder whether the car was fresh off a project build when it came to grief. It isn’t clear how much time has passed since then, but the level of oxidization on components like the alternator suggests that it didn’t happen yesterday. One concern is the intake that is sitting wide open. That is an invitation for water and other foreign objects to find their way into that beautiful V8. I hope that it has had a cover in place and that it was removed to allow the owner to snap a few photos. Once again, there are a few issues to consider. That 389 has been shoved back in the engine bay and has also twisted to one side. All of that force has to go somewhere, so we can only hope that the driveshaft has borne the brunt of the impact. Otherwise, the buyer could be facing damage to the motor, as well as the rest of the drivetrain. This is a situation where an in-person inspection would be the only way to determine any damage.

If the panels don’t paint a clear enough picture, the damage to items like the dash provides a stark indication of how much force found its way into the passenger compartment of this classic. It would’ve been a stunning place with White vinyl upholstery, air conditioning, and a Hurst shifter for that four-speed. Now it is a shattered mess. I’m sure that the buyer could salvage many parts. The question will remain whether this will be part of a restoration or whether those components will be destined to see service on another car.

Cars like this 1966 Pontiac GTO provide a sobering reminder of the perils we all face every time we hit the road. It doesn’t matter whether you are behind the wheel of the latest-and-greatest with all of the safety bells and whistles, or if your transport is a muscle car, things can still go wrong in the worst way possible. I don’t know whether someone can resurrect this car from the shattered remains or if its destiny is to serve as a donor for other projects. In one sense, it almost doesn’t matter. It is a car, an inanimate machine. Because it is a No Reserve listing, someone is mere days away from deciding its fate. That person could be you. As I said initially, I hope that the occupants escaped in good health. You can place a price on a classic car, but you can’t on a life. With that thought in mind, please be careful out there. We want you as our treasured Barn Finds friends for many years to come.


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  1. Cadmanls Member

    Does that look like a 100K car? Unless I am missing something, look at the rust in the vin pic. Not saying car was a total oinker but somebody either didn’t know what they were buying or paying for. Hopefully workmanship didn’t get it to this state. I am sorry this car at the asking price is hardly a parts car. Twisted and broken mess. It hit hard!

    Like 21
    • Terrry

      Wrecked on purpose for an insurance claim, maybe?

      Like 8
      • 19sixty5 Member

        With this amount of damage, if this was for an insurance claim, the driver needs to see if his life insurance was paid up. That was a nasty hit.

        Like 32
      • Llouis200

        That is always a possibility.

        Like 4
      • J. Max

        I don’t think he wanted to almost die for an insurance claim 😐

        Like 14
      • Al

        Bumper jack & brick on the gas pedal otherwise it’s be a suicide attempt if intentional.

        Like 4
  2. Howard A Member

    Shmucked ‘er pretty good. I bet it was a fun ride 20 seconds before that oak tree jumped out in front of them. Damage like this has to be at 100 mph. This should be a lesson for folks that want a 60’s car, but have no experience with one. They don’t stop or handle near as well as they go( we ALL found THAT out) and one can get in trouble fast. It’s a shame the driver didn’t realize that powershifting into 4th,,,

    Like 25
    • Gary

      Remember what happened to Arnie? Christine got her way, always does. I would be worried that either the car is haunted or possessed by whoever bought the farm in this thing. If the color is any clue, not a friendly spirit, either. Who knows, its a GTO, maybe the angry spirit of John DeLorean.

      Like 6
      • Johnny

        Haunted or possed. I have two that are. A 60 Rambler and a 78 bronco. I took the motor out of a 74. That was burnt up. I almost got burnt up in it. Everytime I get ready to take it out. Thinking everything is good. Something happens. I saw a tv report on plane crash a few year back. A good bit of people died in it. Later on the salvaged parts from it and put then on other planes. Every plane that got the parts crashed and killed people. Then they passed a law .You could do that with plane parts. I hope they did not get hurt and survived it. It was a good looking ride one time.

  3. J_Paul Member

    I literally winced when I saw the extent of the damage in photo #2. This car doesn’t need a mechanic to get it back on the road, it needs a magician.

    Like 35
    • Jeff Weir

      More like it needs Jesus!

      Like 14
  4. SLHarris

    Gary Campesi has an idea of what could be done. One mans loss is another project….

    Like 1
  5. theagent39

    This car will never see the road again! It is a parts car and would cost extensively more than the car will ever be worth to restored.

    Like 16
    • Bill McCoskey

      This is nothing more than a donor GTO VIN to restore a rust-free LeMans hardtop, and a very few extra parts.

      Title is listed as “clean”. That means it didn’t have any insurance when wrecked, or the title has been washed. Any insurance company who pays on a claim like this will want the title turned in, and the car is now listed as a total loss, even if the owner was allowed to keep his copy of the title. checking this VIN will show up with the accident info and these photos, and the car listed as a total loss.

      I’m a court recognized forensic mechanic and accident investigator. I’ve restored cars to AACA Junior levels. As mentioned in other comments here, this car ain’t ever been in the $100,000 league, not even close.

      Look closely at the intake manifold. It’s easy to see the angled line where water sat inside the left manifold port for an extended amount of time [multiple months]. Since at least one valve would have been open, that cylinder will also have been full of H2O, and that water will seek the lowest spot, percolating down to the oil pan area. Even the rear axle is toast, both wheels are resting in different directions, and as they are mags, they can’t simply be bent! Look at the 2 bolts that held the power brake booster in place. They are pointing in 2 different directions, because the left side of the firewall is warped. FWIW, that big dent in the valve cover is where the brake booster hit the valve cover. Don’t get me started about that “restored” bucket seat sitting backwards in the car, it looks like it’s never been restored. The original seat was likely damaged or too soiled to keep in the car. Check out that beautiful “orange peel” paint around the VIN plate. A $100K car will have immaculate door jambs as well. Just an observation based on my years investigating accidents; the owner is not showing close up photos of the interior because it’s probably not very pretty.

      Only an insane person with unlimited money and no concept of what it takes, would try to make this car whole again. That will NEVER happen.

      As I said above, it’s value is in a few minor parts and the VIN.

      Like 4
      • NovaTom

        Split plastic wire harness wrap held on with aircraft clamps on a $100K car? Yeah I don’t think so.

        Like 1
  6. Will Fox

    Firewall and A-pillar badly bent, along with the roof? IT’S TOAST.
    Taillights are still good; maybe one of the front buckets but that’s about it.
    I won’t ask, but I assume the driver died in this one?

    Like 13
  7. Lex

    Roflol:….the trunk lid may not fit properly….oh and btw, there is a minor dent in one of the rocker covers …..

    Like 2
  8. sir_mike

    All you need to restore her is a good doner car.VIN tag sale.

    Like 6
  9. Wooky

    Just find a good television repairman with an awesome set of tools to fix this mess

    Like 9
  10. RKS

    The only straight piece left on this car has already been poached, and that was the rear bumper.

    Like 12
  11. William

    Dam shame she was a nice looking ride but now has serious frame issues I don’t even think the best frame and body man could fix for under 100k and at that point ur outta money!!!

    Like 2
  12. A.G.

    It’s been a long time but I believe these had a perimeter frame. As sprung as the body is there no reason to think the frame is recoverable. An insurance company would call this a total loss for a good reason. Strip whatever of value which hasn’t been stripped already and call an auto recycler to haul the rest away.

    Like 5
  13. Arby

    It’s got the rare “between the legs” gearshift.
    You don’t see that very often…

    Like 7
    • Hoss

      Arby ……… I bet he felt that rare between the legs

      gearshift when the accident happened. OUCH !!!!

      Like 4
  14. markp

    This is a reminder that alot of cars from the 50s and 60s are not crash worthy compared to the boring yet safe cars of today.

    Like 9
  15. That Guy

    It looks straight out of the drivers-ed movies I watched in the 70s.

    This will never see the road again, nor should it. It seems to have been a rusty old thing bondoed up and given a quickie resale-red paint job to begin with. There’s not a usable body panel on it. Notably there’s no detail pics of the interior; I’m not sure I’d want to see them anyway. The engine and transmission probably have severe damage. It might yield some usable nuts, bolts, switches, brackets, etc, but not much else.

    Like 9
    • John

      You hit the Nail on the head. This was “The Bondo Champion Of The World” that someone spent way too much money on. Build a new one with the VIN and salvage what parts you can from this one. Hope everyone is OK.

      Like 4
  16. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    I’d be interested in knowing what he hit and how hard? (Speed)

    Like 5
  17. Terrry

    I figure the $1025 bid so far gets you back glass, maybe a trunk lid and a nice shifter knob. That’s about it…oh and there’s the removable data plate..

    Like 5
  18. Terry

    No one else has said it so I will..”A little bondo and some WD40, and she’ll be good as new”

    Like 5
    • Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

      You forgot duct tape.

      Like 7
  19. NovaTom

    The owner says it was a $100K car and he intended to “return it to its former glory”. Sure bud … whatever you say.

    Like 13
  20. MoragaPulsar

    Old cars can be pretty dangerous; their crash worthiness requirements were much much less stringent.

    You probably remember this video – 1959 Bel Air vs 2009 Impala.

    Or do you recall Ford’s “Spear of Death”? (Falcons and early Mustangs).

    Like 1
    • NHDave

      A small correction: it’s a ‘09 Malibu, not Impala. That Malibu may be more boring, but the relative structural integrity of the passenger compartment compared to the Bel Air is quite remarkable.

      Like 4
  21. Doug from MD.

    I’ll say one thing you can’t say the people on barnfinds can’t beat a dead horse. Damn!

    Like 5
  22. Steve Clinton


    Like 3
  23. CCFisher

    Someone will buy it, stash it away for a couple years as not to raise eyebrows, then swap VIN tags with his grandma’s old Tempest Custom hardtop and drop in a date-correct 389 in place of the OHC 6.

    Like 1
  24. grant

    It’s wasted. The whole car is tweaked, it’s not plumb. Look at the way the rear wheel sits in the wheelwell. It’s a parts car.

  25. Jay

    Front right tire and wheel still intact. Wonder what he hit ?

  26. Joe Machado

    Couple things first.
    That 59 Chevy against the suv test, has a few flaws.
    The 59 was so rusty, it did not stand a chance. It was an inline 6 for test value.
    The test completely missed the engine to help from collapsing, besides the rust. Rust has no resistance crashing.
    X frame, no body side strength.
    Experience is not just behind the wheel, it’s more important to choose a location for the foot to the floor fun, or racing. But again, that is experience.
    Looks as if it hit a lo boy trailer.
    Possibly near this truck yard.
    Bet 100%, a new car, exact same impact as this former prize, dash would have taken out the backseat passenger also.
    All airbags would be useless.

    Like 2
  27. bobk

    This is what happens when your totally irresponsible teenage nephew finds the keys to your pride and joy. Ask me how I know. On the “plus side??”, my brother prevented me from killing the little moron.

    He’s still paying the bill….

    Like 8
  28. DeeBee

    Reality says that’s a parts car at best.

    Like 2
  29. MJF

    Should buff out no problem

    Like 4
  30. Comet

    Who puts Cooper tires on a 100K build?

    Like 6
  31. Richard Haner

    no bringing that one back with the damage done….parts at best

  32. Bunky

    🎶 🎺🎶 Anybody know “Taps”?

    Like 2
  33. Billy

    A little touch-up paint and some buffing and it will look like new. What someone could do is get a nice 66 LeMans and re vin it as a GTO. Then salvage all the parts that are good.

  34. Howie Mueler

    Yes just a parts car, and the carb is already gone. $1,500 now.

    Like 2
  35. John

    This is an appropriate time to mention the DEA is trying to end the use of opioid pain medication. Opioids have gotten a bad rap and the overdose deaths ascribed to them are majority fentynl deaths. After having been rear ended by a texter I’m now in chronic pain. Hrdrocodone is the only pain killer that gives me enough relief to have some quality of life. Injuries, botched operations, cancer, etc that have us in chronic pain can happen to anyone at any time and in the blink of an eye. Imagine not being allowed a medication to alleviate your excruciating pain. That’s what the DEA and government wants for us serfs.

    Like 7
    • Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

      I know what your saying, John.
      O have a friend in Baltimore who had a stroke a few years ago. Ever since she been in chronic pain, and they won’t give her any opioid. The pain is so bad she tried suicide. Now with that on her record they won’t give her anything stronger than Tylenol.
      The misuse of opioid by others has really screwed it up for those that really need it.

      Like 6
      • John

        That’s terrible to hear! I had to go to a pain management clinic to get meds. The VA wouldn’t give me a referral so was able to get one from my chiropractor.

        There are millions suffering in chronic pain, many of them war veterans, which is why their suicide rate is so high. The VA paints them as suffering PTSD with regrets from their war time experience – NOT. It’s because the VA won’t allow them relief from their injuries.

        The American lifestyle of work hard play hard, and the machines to go with it, has caused so many injuries as well as the declining health of our people (of which high stress contributes) that chronic pain has become a huge problem. So what does the gov’t do? Restricts and wants to remove opioids from our choice of treatments.

        Big pharma has developed a lot of alternative pain meds which pale in comparison. Often times to get some degree of relief people have to take 3 or 4 different pain meds. All of which have side effects as well as develop dependence.

        We are taught words like dependence and addiction in relation to pain meds that demonize pain relief medication and those that need them. Just as we have our daily requirements for vitamins and minerals, once someone has been injured and suffer chronic pain they have a daily requirement of pain meds.

        The choice is hard but then pain is hard. Pain is unforgiving. Pain is relentless. Pain doesn’t care how much it ruins your life. Once one is afflicted your life can be misery with little quality of life. Opioids may be the thing you “require” to live a semblance of a decent life.

        Your friend may find help thru various pain and disability pages on facebook. I hope the best for her!

        Like 4
      • John
      • Gary

        Interesting little branch to this thread. Addiction requires two things, a physical, AND a mental need. If you just use the Oxy for pain, you will not get addicted, but if you take it even when you don’t need it because you like the buzz or you want to forget about your crummy life for a while, you are asking for trouble. That is always what I told my patients and few got addicted. The prescriber needs to be very clear on this. Problem is doctors are in such a hurry these days, for what ever reason, this is not stressed enough. It is not fair to hold needed pain meds from needy patients. Of course, we need to make addiction lawsuits against providers illegal too, then more doctors wouldn’t be so hesitant to order them today. Lets ban the lawyers. Always a good start. Of course we need them, there are bad doctors, but they want to sue for the simplest things for a quick buck. It needs to stop.

        Like 3
  36. Sam Shive

    I did 80 feet of cable guard rail and two trees with my 65 Goat and had more than this left. This isn’t even scrap. Seen many of wrecks while driving a tow truck. First time seeing a bent valve cover.

    Like 3
  37. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    Nice wheels…lol
    What ever this car hit it must have been immovable. Have you ever seen a 60’s car wrapped around a telephone pole with rear and front bumpers nearly touching? I don’t know why (I guess God had another plan) but I walked away from that wreck in 1967 driving a 65 Ford Custom 500 4 door sedan. I was driving on a country road at about 50 mph as I topped a hill a car was parked in the road, as I swerved to miss it I slid in the gravel losing control, I was hanging onto the steering wheel as my legs and torso flew to the passenger side, steering wheel didn’t break as the car went back across the road and hit the telephone pole at the middle of the passenger side bending the car in half. I was covered in dirt and broken glass but able to walk away as dust cleared and lines were sparking on the ground.
    God bless America

    Like 5
  38. Sam Shive

    Hit so dam hard it knocked the locks out of the doors and trunk, plus the mirrors and door handles.

    Like 1
  39. Joe Machado

    Official, as the GTO hit a column.
    I don’t have if it was a building or parking structure, or otherwise.
    Don’t have if it was survivable by an individual yet.

  40. jerry z

    Maybe 100K mile car not $100K that’s for sure. In picture 11, you can see the rust above the vin tag.

    Like 2
  41. Pugsy

    Ran when parked.

    Like 3
  42. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    Thanks. John I will relay your message to look on Facebook. I never thought of that.

  43. greg

    someone must think the tail lights are worth $1025 !

  44. Claudio

    The only use is parts and a couch with the rear end ala cadillac with fins

  45. 69 GTO covt

    Seriously! First off this car didn’t even look that good. To begin with that color does not look good on that car. The quality of the repaint is not anywhere near a good job. And afterwards this car is nothing more than scrap value outside of perhaps the tail lights and tail light covers. The way this type of construction works is when it is hit in the corner like that the frame does something called Diamond. and when it happens to that degree the body is toast. It is completely twisted and will never ever ever ever be repaired I don’t care how good you are you will never ever ever get all the Kinks and wrinkles out of that floor pan and the inner structure of the body. Obviously I have not seen this in person but I know these cars fairly well and judging by the movement of the engine (hard enough to hit the brake booster) I can almost guarantee you that the transmission case is busted as they are aluminum and they are not the most sturdy things. Not to mention the driveshaft has probably rammed into the back of it and the rear end is most likely damage to some degree. Like I said scrap.

  46. 19sixty5 Member

    Sold for $6700!

    Like 1

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