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Rusty Roller: 1971 Pontiac GTO

The GTO was launched by Pontiac in 1964 as a mid-size muscle car. It would set the market on its ear and spawn loads of competition. Its quick rise in popularity led the car to become a series of its own in 1966 (after being an option on LeMans). But the performance auto market began to run out of steam as the next decade arrived and 1971 would be the last year of the GTO as a series (back to option status in 1972). This ’71 GTO is a rolling project that will need lots of work. Its engine is gone, and the 4-speed manual is in the trunk. Located in Rapid City, South Dakota, this roller is available here on eBay where the first bid of $4,500 has yet to be cast.

Markets come and markets go. In 1966, Pontiac sold more than 96,000 GTOs, which would end up being the model’s best year. Five years later, they could barely move 10,000 copies to a buying public that was being hit hard by rising insurance premiums.  The GTO would limp along through 1973 and then become a variant of the compact Ventura in 1974. After that, the storied brand was retired (more or less).  The seller’s coupe would have had a 400 or 455-cubic-inch V8 when it left the factory, but that powerplant has long since been liberated from the automobile.

Rusty may be the best word to define this GTO. According to the seller, you’ll find plenty of it in the rear quarter panels, trunk, front fenders, trunk lid (which may have been replaced), and hood. Though the car is covered in white paint today, the original color is said to have been copper. The interior (or what’s left of it) is finished in tan. But it still sports a set of honeycomb wheels!

The seller makes no qualms that this car will be a major project, starting with sourcing a new engine. So, it will never be numbers matching no matter how much time and money you put into it. The cowl tag is hard to read but may have the correct codes to make it a real GTO. The seller is planning to get a PHS Report of the car before the auction ends to prove its heritage. Would you attempt a restoration or go the restomod route (or just take a pass)?


  1. Cadmanls Member

    These are some of the best looking later GTO’s. The ram air scoops are in your face and these were still making decent power. It’s a project for sure but the not beyond repair. As for numbers, I grew up with many of the hi performance cars of the sixties and seventies. Engines, drivetrain parts were broken and discarded. Numbers are not that important for me and a real car guy knows this was a reality of the times.

    Like 17
  2. Bob

    Never got the appeal to these boats. Good luck whomever

    Like 1
    • Johan

      What makes you say it’s a boat? Same G body platform used from ‘68-‘72. These cars make the ‘66-‘67s look like boats

      Like 2
      • Da Hobo

        Wish I kept my yellow ‘67 convertible 4 spd. Nothing against the ‘68s n on, but I’ll take my ‘67 boat over one any day. Bought it in ‘80 r ‘81 for $1600 ! Oh well, it’s been ‘gone with the wind’ for a good while now . . . Da Hobo

        Like 0
  3. Chris Cornetto

    Well 4,500.00. no bids, so some bargaining there. South Dakota usually means surface rust, cars are rather decent to work with. Then the transport nightmare which kills any bargain gained in the purchase. If you do it yourself. Go and get it, perform the work yourself mostly. Driveline are still relatively easy, whether resto mod or original. There’s a 70 Bonneville at the u pull it right now and short tailed 400 turbos are still very easy for BOP to get. So if you have the Moxie and the time and ability this might move you into the realm of the parking lot God’s in several seasons.

    Like 2
  4. Rustomodrob

    Well…at least it’s got a Muncie in the trunk..lol
    I’d just find a decent power house…slap the Muncie back in…clean it up, repair whatever it needs to get rolling again….tag it…drive it.
    Doing the same to a
    63 “Grand Prize” she’s a complete matching 389 with all her own stuff….crusty, but all there with extras in the trunk. She’s cleaning up, but won’t win any beauty pageants…lol. At least she’ll be roaming the streets again…hopefully soon.

    Like 6
  5. Rick

    It’s a wonder nobody so far has suggested an LS swap and turning the Goat into a Judge clone.

    Like 1
  6. Chris In Australia

    That much surface rust on the cross member has me wondering. Engine fire, or an unfinished clean up attempt?

    Like 0

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