That’ll Buff Out…Not! 1969 Pontiac GTO


On the left, we have a 1969 Pontiac GTO roughly 10 years after an accident (based on the date on the photo). On the right, we have the same car now after some preliminary work has been completed, but the project has now stalled and the owner is ready to pass it along. They have it up for sale here on eBay, where the buy it now price is $5,500. The GTO is located in El Cajon, California.h1

Let’s look closer at that before picture. It doesn’t look terrible at first. Obviously the car needs a new fender, hood, grille, valence, core support and possibly a door, but the big question was answered when the now seller had the frame professionally straightened. The car originally came from Texas, but must have been left outdoors after the accident.


After looking closer, I would be looking for both a replacement door and the rear quarter panel, and I wonder if the door pillar was knocked asunder from the wreck. Another issue is the cowl, which is nicely pictured and unfortunately shows some rust holes. You can see here where someone cut a hole into the rear quarter panel to see how rusty it was in there. I don’t think they got great news, but it’s not awful either.


The peeling clearcoat means all of it will have to come off to provide a good surface to repaint. It’s a shame that work was started on the trunk lid and then allowed to rust again. Still, I don’t see anything that can’t be repaired or replaced if this is your dream car.


The interior is more of the same, with it looking relatively solid (the floors look pretty good) and with seats that could certainly be recovered. I think I see splits in the dash, though. You can get a molded outer shell replacement here for $125. The costs are adding up, aren’t they?


Then, of course, you have the mechanicals to sort. I’m just not sure that this one is worth it given the amount of work that has to be done, but I’m interested in your opinion. The seller does have a relatively rare Endura nose that they planned to put on the car, and according to this page, the car is only one of 22,032 produced that year with the base 400 engine and a manual transmission. What are your thoughts?


  1. Mike

    In my opinion without a first hand inspection I would not want to tackle this mess. I bet the frame was not straighten by a professional, and having set for no telling how many years it would be hard to do correct now. Seems the older a bent frame gets the harder more intensive work it takes to get them right again, this is from a friend of mine that has been doing it for nearly 25 years.
    Might make a parts car if best in my opinion.

  2. Pete

    I had a 1968 GTO 4spd car. It was all beat up and rusty. But, I loved it..

    I would try and save it but it would be a labor of love fir me

  3. Mr. TKD

    Big chief from “Street Outlaws” needs to make this the second coming of The Crow.

  4. JW

    This car is close to a basket case as you can get, $1,000 car.

  5. Mark S

    If you could find a donor lemans you might be in good shape to make one out of two. But your really going to have to want a GTO.

    • Rich

      Agree with Mark. Best to find a donor if you want a GTO that bad.

  6. JagManBill

    found two GTO running/driving project cars here local (Denver CL) . 70 at $7500 and a 66 at $7000. Me thinks that asking price has one too many 5’s…by a few locations.

  7. S Ryan

    ? Why is there a flywheel and a torque converter in the same parts pile?
    Experimental his and hers transmission?

  8. Rolf Poncho 455

    No go for me lots of work on this one
    love this GTO yes but to match to repair.

    “Mike your friend is right funny how it works
    to get an OLD bend straight”
    can someone help with that question?

  9. Dan

    Three speed manual? Ugh. Sucks the fun out of it right there.

  10. Philip

    A T-37 or LeMans donor is needed. I would not trust that frame straightened or not. A hit that hard on that corner is bound to have twisted the A and B pillars, messed up body lines and maybe wrinkled the roof or other sheet metal. The motor is in pieces , interior is trash, and the body needs a full clip and a rear filler panel and brackets for the Endura nose. It’s a 50$ car, my firm belief is it was totaled and the owner bought it back or someone else got it from the insurance auction.

    Doesn’t matter now because that car will forever carry the salvage mark on on it’s title preventing it from being worth anything in a collector market. That said if it was a regular 400 non HP with 3 speed manual as someone said above and 20 some odd thousand were made its not worth much either way. Down the road someone will have these words in the for sale add..35K$ in receipts sacrifice 15K$..I was buying A body Pontiacs from 68-72 with great body’s and interior but bar motors and trans for 200$ and up to about 1500$.. GTO clones are easily built and more desired than this scrap heap would ever be.

  11. Steven Visek

    As an essentially no option car with base 3sp it is more of a restomod candidate than a resto car. Still if the frame and floors are solid it is worth saving if bought cheap enough.

    BTW it’s an Endura nose, not Enduro.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Thanks, Steven, corrected. Don’t know what I was thinking….

  12. Chris N

    Looks like it is a least a real GTO. I heard someone say at a swap meet recently “…there are more GTO’s on the road that were ever built…”

    • Philip

      That statement is not entirely un-true. The same thought applies to Z-28’s, Trans Ams, Chevele SS’ and 442’s among other brands and models.

      35 years ago,,.. we were building doubles or clones, I think they call them ‘Tribute Cars’ now. A Le Mans Sport or if desperate, a T-37/ plain Le Mans could be easily had with a great body/insides and blown drive-train component for 50-250$. I know, I built 5 of the GTO ‘Tributes’, for myself and (mostly) others between 1979 and 1989. Then it was on to F-bodys, G bodys and Y bodys, which were more expensive at that time for the same reasons and people.

      Driveline parts were easily sourced from random 4 door or station wagon cars from the mid-late sixty’s to the mid-late 70’s, with emissions dog,.. 400’s or 455’s that were easily converted back to big power making mills.

      Chevy’s blew up more often, usually spun rod or main bearings, Old’s motors ran forever, but the induction scream of a properly massaged 400 or 455 Pontiac with the right heads, exhaust, carb & and; cam was a thing of beauty to hear and drive. Parts were plentiful and cheap, pretty much anywhere you would look. the city yard impound auction sold cars for 51$ each if no one bid, and a drive in the sticks often would yield dozens of ‘barn finds’ or ‘front yard cars’ on blocks behind or next to the obligatory trailer the owners lived in .

      A weeks take home could buy just about everything you needed, then the following week while broke you put it with your buddy’s after work drinking beers together. Friday Night, came round again, you got paid, cleaned up, you and the car, gassed up and cruised or street raced.

      It wasn’t very hard to build a nice looking quick A body with nice insides, nor was it expensive. “Real” GTO’s and the other desirable ‘A’ body’s were too expensive to buy, at 18-2800$ average, for a car that needed mechanical only work or a tad of floor pan or lower fender/quarter work, maybe carpet or a package tray. We didn’t mess with cars that had major rust or crunched sheet metal. By ‘we’ I mean my friends and fellow gear heads and car guys as well as myself. From 1978 to about 1995 mostly no one cared about these cars, especially the no name , Malibu’s, LeMans, and so on, the engines in 4 doors and station wagons were give-me’s,.. as quite a few people would happily give the car away title and all to get it out of their yard. In 1991, I bought a Canary Yellow 1977 Trans Am 400 4 speed in this way. The rear springs were completely broken in half, carb and fuel tank were full of varnish ,and lower (outer only) quarters were rusted. The rest of the car was cherry, especially inside and under the hood, no leaky T-tops and adult owned by a male health care professional. New leaf springs, bolts and shackles, a Carter 625, plus patch panels cost about 500$$ bucks with needed supply’s. I’d do all my own body and mechanical (interior work also) which was where the money gets spent usually. It was driven in primer until I traded it for a V8 S-10 Blazer 2 door 2 wheel drive.

      I miss those good old days. Today this hobby is largely driven by profits and profitability only in most cases, where as the cars that people would give away ,or pay to rid themselves of back when, in today’s world often bring obscene amounts of money.

      I’m very sorry I didn’t put a dozen or two of the over 200 that passed thru my hands between 1978 and 2012. Not to sell or generate profits from, mostly just to be able have them to work, or go cruising in. Hind-sight as they say is 20/20, unfortunately. Even later A and G body’s are escalating in price, what was once 51$ or 500$ is now thousands just to pick up a clapped out example not even as good as the cars were were getting for nearly nothing 30-40 years ago..

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