Some people are blessed, or cursed, with the ability to fib, but Doug Norrdin isn’t one of them. The official company line, the kind of thing you tell to your accountant or spouse, is that the ’65 GTO you see before you was built for business purposes. Uh, OK. That business is Global West, a company that’s been pushing the aftermarket suspension cause for decades, so at least on the surface this line of reasoning seems legit. The thing is, the GTO is far too nice for your typical test mule. There’s no denying that the Goat most certainly assisted in the development of Global West’s A-body suspension components, but does getting the job done really require a supercharged Pontiac 400, a six-speed stick, a mint interior, and perfect paint? It doesn’t take much prodding to get Doug to admit that using the GTO as an R&D vehicle merely served as a good excuse to build his dream car. Hey, we’re not complaining, because the end product is a sweet back-to-basics street machine that harkens back to the early days of Pro Touring.
In the beginning, Pro Touring was all about purposeful tweaks intended to improve road course prowess and street cruising competence. It was a time when wheel diameters had yet to grow 5 inches too large, and trunks were stuffed with toolboxes and racing slicks rather than lawn chairs and ice chests. That’s what Doug’s GTO is all about, a refreshing throwback to a bygone era. Its Vortech-blown Pontiac motor puts down 410 rwhp, enough to launch it effectively out of corners, but not so much as to roast the hides in a tail-wagging stupor. The Goat’s iconic 17-inch Torq-Thrusts II wheels are big enough to accommodate 275mm road race tires and 13-inch brakes, but aren’t so massive that they adversely affect unsprung weight and gearing. Considering Doug’s extensive background as a race car builder, the GTO’s emphasis on performance over showmanship isn’t the least bit surprising.
During his decorated career, Doug has designed the suspension systems in everything from Formula Ford to IMSA to USAC race cars. After years of touring the country helping racers set up their instant centers and camber curves on a freelance basis, he earned enough business to venture out on his own full time in 1980. “I rented out an 800 square-foot building, took out a $5,000 loan to buy some tools, and opened up a shop,” he says. “I didn’t like a lot of the suspension parts that were on the market, so I decided to make my own. One of my instructors in school used to test suspension parts for USAC cars, and I got a job working for him. While performing stress tests, I found out where the parts usually broke and which metals were more durable than others. Through that experience, I learned a lot about materials, which helped greatly when I started manufacturing parts.”
Granted, Doug’s been building race cars for most of his adult life, his love of GTOs goes way back to his childhood. His aunt had a ’65 GTO, and he weaseled his way behind the wheel from time to time. “Back when I was growing up in the Midwest, we got our driver’s licenses at 14 years old. I got a taste of my aunt’s 389 Tri-power GTO, and I was instantly hooked,” he says. “I had to have a GTO, and I found a ’66 four-speed car parked between a stack of hay bales while driving through South Dakota one day. The car had some issues with the motor, so the owner sold it to me for $400. That was my high school car, and ever since I sold it I’ve been trying to get it back. They say that the cars you had in school are the ones you should have kept, and that was definitely the case with my first GTO.”
An MSD BTM reads manifold pressure, and adjusts timing accordingly. It retards the timing
With memories of his high school car refusing to relent, Doug found the perfect candidate through which to relive his youth 16 years ago outside of San Diego. The ’65 Goat he spotted was an original 389-powered four-speed car, and had nary a hint of rust. “Back then, GTOs weren’t nearly as expensive as they are today, so I traded a pile of parts for the car and took it home,” he says. Over the next six years, Doug used the car as a daily driver, but eventually the motor got tired and the paint had seen better days. Thus began an exhaustive restoration process that took much longer than Doug cares to admit. “Since the GTO is my own personal car, it’s the last car I work on at the end of the day, and we just finished it up two years ago. The original goal was to build a daily driver setup for handling, but somewhere during the process I went over the edge. The car went to paint jail for a year and a half, and needed some rust repair beneath the bottom of the rear windshield. I figured that while the car is apart, we might as well drop the frame and clean it up. That led to pulling the Muncie for a Richmond six-speed, running new stainless steel brake lines inside the frame, and powdercoating everything.”
From the comfort of the cabin, Doug can dial back the ignition advance if necessary.
Fitting the Richmond six-speed proved to be an extremely labor intensive chore. Since the
The interior has been restored rather than modified. The buckets, gauges, dash, and carpet