Salt Water Flood Car: 1966 Pontiac GTO

While this 1966 Pontiac GTO looks like a decent project on the surface, it hides an ugly secret: it spent two hours completely submerged in a salt-water bath. Given its location on Staten Island, I have to believe this is a Hurricane Sandy victim that the seller has just now comes to grips with letting go of. Pure speculation on my part, so check out the listing here on eBay where bids are over $5K with the reserve unmet.

At first glance, you might not even think that this GTO sat in salt water up to the roof rails, so kudos to the seller for divulging this tidbit. Interestingly, he notes that after the two hour salt bath, the car was immediately rinsed down. This would not seem like something easy to achieve in the course of a monster hurricane, so perhaps my theory about Sandy goes out the window.

The interior looks way better than expected, and one would hope after it was rinsed down, it was also subsequently dried off. Most times, I associate flood cars with a general sense of swampiness that’s impossible to get out. Of course, interiors are often where the darkest secrets of a flood car can hide, with mold or mildew growing places no one had thought to look. No word on whether any electronics, like the gauges, still work.

The seller notes that he has owned it since 1985, and prior to that it was last registered in 1972 – apparently, it was parked due to the gas crisis. It has to be somewhat infuriating knowing you’ve owned a car for so many years with hopes of restoration, only to see those dreams swept away in the blink of an eye. Regardless, bidders aren’t seemingly intimidated by this undertaking; would you restore a car like this GTO that sat in salt water for two hours?


  1. John Oliveri

    If your planning a total restoration, pulling the dash out, throwing it away, and the harnesses too, y not, it’s not that it has a computer in it, it’s a basic car, rugs seats console all trash, maybe the console can be refurbished, shifter linkage, anything that moves, trash, now the motor and transmission, if rebuildable, you were doing the motor anyway, media blast the body, it wasn’t burnt, yeah if I wanted to build a car from ground up, rewiring it completely y not

    Like 12
    • LT1 Mike

      Here’s the good news, goats can swim ! (They’re actually really good) With that said, I probably would take a shot considering I still miss my tri-power GTO I sold years ago. Parts are plentiful, this is a great year GTO, the body looks decent,
      and like John says it doesn’t have a computer in it . Our house was flooded when I was a kid and our old Sears Frigidaire refrigerator was floating in the water. I can remember my dad cleaning it up,then plugging it in, (drum roll please) and it worked for another 20 years ! This old Pontiac needs to be reborn, because they don’t make cars(or refrigerators) like they used to….

      Like 6
  2. Steve S

    The engine should be fine it wasn’t running when it was under water so water shouldn’t of got in it. But if I had the money I would take the car.

    Like 3
  3. local_sheriff

    Two hours in salt water shouldn’t be that troublesome – don’t forget road salt has considerable higher concentration than seawater!
    All soft goods should be considered trash, probably also wiring harness if insulation is old and crusty.
    As for the drivetrain I wouldn’t be concerned. Several boaters loose their outboards during season and they are usually fixable if flushed immediately then treated with marine penetrating oil.
    Someone with patience and a large dumpster nearby may score a deal here

    Like 5
  4. redwagon

    Wow. You folks are a lot more forgiving that I would have expected.

    Like 6
    • Lee

      Thanks! Car guys would rather repair than scrap. These cars are what started the muscle wars anyway. Car guys rule🤘

  5. LT1 Mike

    Here’s the good news, goats can swim ! (They’re actually very good) With that said, I hope someone saves this car because it reminds me of a tri -power ’66 goat I had years ago and sold, and still miss to this day. As John said, it doesn’t have a computer to worry about, the body looks decent, parts are plentiful, and this was a great year for the GTO. When I was a kid a flood hit our house and our old Sears Frigidaire refrigerator was floating in the water. I can still remember my dad cleaning it up, plugging it in, (drum roll) and it worked fine for another 20 plus years ! This old muscle car needs to be reborn because they don’t make cars (or refrigerators) like they used to….

    Like 7
  6. bob

    Two hours submerged is VERY troublesome. What is worse is it has sat for years. There is no telling what you will find when taking it apart. Submerged is ALOT worse than road salt. Not saying don’t buy it, just saying plan on the worst and don’t pay much for it.

    Like 3
  7. James Martin

    Over 5 grand? For what? I didn’t know Pontiac made a submarine.

    Like 6
  8. Termresto

    Perhaps the “rinse” was Sandy’s rain?

    Like 1
  9. Qabbott

    It probably should have been submerged in fresh water to flush out the salt in the hidden areas.

    Like 2
  10. Troy s

    At least it wasn’t a completely restored GTO Before it went under water! Now that would be truly heartbreaking.
    If someone takes on the challenge that’s great, hope it really works out. Come to think of it a bunch of classic rides, more rare than this, have succumbed to mother nature lately be it floods or out of control fires.

    Like 2
  11. Brian K

    If the frame and body panels are solid, then it’s a perfect car to restore. I would trash the interior. It looks like a solid plain birthday cake but, I would need to see the frame and examine the car more closely. Matching numbers with trans is a huge plus.

    Like 1
  12. Del

    What engine is that ?

  13. John Taylor

    Completely strip it if you buy it and soak it in a big tub of whatever they used to save the things from the Titanic and then go through the whole process they did other wise expect rust to keep popping out, new wiring etc will be the order of the day, but in reality that is not a big deal because a lot of cars this age are just about due to be rewired anyway. Along with new upholstery and mechanical rebuild etc. But the body looks in good condition really.

    Like 1
  14. Rob

    Uh, what about Sepsis? If it was underwater, and the local sewage plant was flooded, the crap in the water has coated all the surfaces of the car, inside, everywhere.
    Flood cars used to be dumped in Quebec, and then sold across Canada. There are documented cases of people getting scratches and then dying a few days later.
    They passed laws about not being able to sell flood immersed cars…
    Read up on this before you buy any car that has been immersed. Spraying it off did not get clean water into the doors, headliners, cavities.
    I love these cars, and this one looks awesome. I would not work on it..

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