Live Auctions

The Real Deal: 1968 Pontiac GTO

In the world of ’60s muscle cars, making your own, or creating a “clone” is an all too common occurrence. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing that as long as the seller advises as much at sale time. And it’s actually a less expensive way to relive past automobile experiences without having to worry so much about theft, damage, and other mayhem. The seller of this 1968 GTO is doing the reverse, he is asserting that this Pontiac is ‘da real thing. It is an interesting combination of componentry so let’s examine its authenticity. This GOAT is located in Orlando, Florida and is available, here on craigslist for $8,500. Thanks to Ikey H. for this tip!

In 1968 the GTO had the tiger by the tail. It was a strong sales year for the iconic model with approximately 87K copies finding homes. There were powertrain options aplenty and while built on the same “A” body chassis platform as its Chevrolet Chevelle SS396 cousin, and in some cases built on the same assembly line, it was a very much different car. In 1968, a Pontiac was a Pontiac.

The first thing noticed about this GTO is its color, Carousel Red, the same color as employed on the very collectible “Judge”, a model not introduced until the following year. According to Eric English at Hotrod magazine, “Carousel Red was not a standard GTO color outside the Judge, but it was available by special order”. But we do know that the color wasn’t available until 1969. The seller doesn’t elaborate on this GTO’s exterior appearance but it would appear that somewhere in the past it has been repainted in this very recognizable shade. The images do speak for themselves, the body of this GTO has problems, lot’s of them in the form of rust. Generally, when there is this much rot visible, there’s that much more that isn’t. Of concern would be the perimeter chassis as “A” platform frames have a proclivity for corrosion problems in specific locations.

The surprise is the powertrain, it is comprised of a 455 CI V8 engine, operating through a three-speed manual transmission. The 455 engine was still two model years into the future in 1968 so this GTO’s original 400 CI powerplant has obviously moved on. The seller gives no indication of the engine’s provenance but it has been upgraded with an aftermarket intake manifold, carburetor and air cleaner. Other improvements include an aluminum radiator and electric cooling fans. The immediate attention-getter, however, is all of those wires; hopefully, they have a purpose and are connected to what they are supposed to be connected to. The seller is upfront by stating, “The car runs but is not road ready”. As for the transmission, it may be original to this car as a three-speed manual, though seldomly seen, was the standard gearbox in a ’68 GTO.

The interior of this GTO has its share of challenges. The carpet, which looks fair, is hiding a driver’s side floor that is letting go (as is the trunk pan), the dash pad is split, the instrument panel is discolored and minus a piece of its applique, and the driver’s seat upholstery is split. There is an aftermarket steering wheel in place, which actually I like and prefer, but for a purist, it is not correct. As is so frequently the case, the backseat appears to have been little used.

The seller suggests, “This is the perfect car for someone to restore”.  That may be the case if originality is not of paramount importance and the rust hasn’t completely run amuck; what’s there will be a worker to fix. The GTO still carried a unique GTO two digit model number within its VIN in ’68, it would have been nice if it were included in the listing but it should be easy enough to obtain and verify. So what to do here? If you are really venturesome enough, you could go for the full Judge treatment, though you’d be a year off so that would be awkward. Or you could fix what’s here, or return it to 1968 status or do something else entirely. Suggestions?


  1. bobhess bobhess Member


    Like 5
  2. Mitchell Gildea Member

    This makes road rash look like a cosmetic upgrade

    Like 3
  3. Troy s

    Keep the carousel red paint color/black interior hopped up 455, all that, even the aftermarket wheels..,but I dont see the need to clone a Judge. Day 2 Friday night thrill ride from the past is what I see, not an all original restored lot car.
    I like it despite many issues, I think anyone here who comes to check it out likes something about this muscle car.

    Like 2
  4. JoeBob396

    I sold my 68 in 75. I still miss it. If a guy has $30k – $35k to throw into the project it could turn into a nice goat, but if you’re gonna spend $40k, you might as well look for a better example.

    Like 3
  5. Barry

    Don’t think the bucket seats are correct. I’ve owned a few 68-72 Chevelle and ElCaminos and none had the head rests until 1969. I believe this was the same with the GTOs but may be wrong.

    Like 1
    • Steve R

      Head rests were optional prior to 1969. They are rare, but not unheard of. There are differences which are readily apparent to guys that deal with these cars on a regular basis.

      Steve R

    • Ed dierking

      Had a 67 with stock head-rests in it

      Like 1
  6. Pat guffey

    I can see about 22k spent to make it look good , think I would look for a better example to spend my money on. Parts add up fast and so does paint and materials. Do wish the seller much luck with there sale.

  7. Bob Gubner

    The three-speed manual is a heavy duty Ford Dearborn transmission. During the war, it was common for manufacturers to use others’ parts.This was just before the Saginaw and then Muncie became available.

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