We consider ourselves fortunate here at Popular Hot Rodding. Unlike most automotive magazines on the stand, we are not limited to any particular make, model, or style of car. We can run the latest g-Machines alongside street rods or customs on our pages, and we think it's all good. Sure, we don't run imports, but we don't want to either.
When we saw Vinnie Green's ultra-straight '65 GTO, the decision to put it on the pages was not a tough call. It's not a mainstream ride, and it's far from cutting edge, but we loved it. The slightly-high East Coast stance is teamed with early '70s period-style 14-inch Cragar SS wheels. Underhood lives a true Pontiac 455 with enough sauce to run 11.15-second elapsed times at 115 mph. It's a flashback to about thirty years ago, and would have stood as a great feature car in '73 as well as it does now in 2003.
This car began life with Vinnie by undergoing a complete frame-up restoration. It's a real GTO, and don't let the mods put you off. All of the original parts, including the tri-power 389 and factory four-gear trans, are safely in storage. Why did Vinnie choose to deviate from restoration on this particular ride?
"I own an auto business, and we do some high performance work but mostly we specialize in restorations," Vinnie explains. "This was never a customer car; it's mine. So, I started with the frame-up resto, but decided I wanted a few things my own way. It's the way I want it now, and people think it's a show car. Its not, really. I might take it to two shows a year, but I like taking it to cruise nights, and I like racing it. I race it like I stole it!"
The '75-vintage 455 block was overbored .060-inch before being reloaded with a stock crank and rods. Forged pistons now create 11:1 compression with Edelbrock aluminum heads, relying on a Lazer solid roller camshaft (duration is 249 at .050-inch, with 106-degreee lobe centers) to control valve motions. Vinnie also went with Lazer springs (480 lbs. of pressure open, 220 lbs. on the seat) to work with the cam. The motor came together at Vinnie's shop (Green's Auto Performance Center, Red Bank, NJ) along with the rest of the GTO. An Edelbrock Victor intake manifold and a Holley 900 cfm carb were chosen to top the big Poncho mill, MSD ignition lights it up, and a stout Turbo 400 trans backs it. The torque converter is a TCI 2,500 rpm stall unit, and of course the shifter is from Hurst.
In typical fashion, the rear axle is a GM 12-bolt loaded with 3.90 gears and Moser axles. The BFG 215/70-14s (front) and 235/60-14s (rear) are duly challenged to find grip. The anti-hop bars from Lakewood must really help! The stock drum brakes are still in place, and we're hoping another bolt-on upgrade will soon show up to help this tiger slow down. Both the interior and exterior of the GTO remain as Pontiac intended back in '65, and both are finished perfectly in black. The resulting effect is evil in appearance but flawless in craftsmanship, which is precisely what we look for in feature cars.
Vinnie has been enjoying the car in this style since '96, and there are plenty more years, many more miles, and countless smiles left in it. Green claims a total investment of six months in labor and 25 grand to get timeless style and respectable performance. Compared to the prices of new cars, or any restored muscle car, it's a good deal. For a car built to stir memories from three decades past, this GTO was done so right, it will still be generating strong emotions three decades from now. Should we plan to feature it again in 2033?