Every last car ever made has a story. Some are uneventful lives that spanned from birth on the assembly line until the day the uncaring fifth or sixth owner drove them to the local U-Pull-It yard to collect the scrap value. Some are cared for lovingly, given restorations that would make the factory workers look incompetent by comparison, with no cost deemed too great. Some are used, abused, worked to death and, depending on how tough they are, are worked again and again, as if Frankenstein’s monster was adept at pulling a plow in the spring. But when it comes to cars like Buddy Croucher’s 1965 Pontiac GTO, the fifty years that the car has spent on it’s tires are etched into the body for any and everyone to see. This isn’t a survivor that somehow transcended time, nor is it a restoration that exceeds the quality than the car originally sported fresh off of the Pontiac, Michigan line for 1965. This is a warrior, an old racer with scars, wounds, and just like an old boxer whose face shows the results of many a battle, there is still a bit of danger underneath the damage.
Originally, this Goat left the factory as a Nightwatch Blue machine, according to the data tag on the firewall, but that aspect of the Pontiac is so far gone, that it isn’t worth mentioning. The only traces of color peeking out from bare metal and what looks like white house paint is a glimpse of Teal Turquoise here and there. What color is original? Who cares. When Buddy found the car at Camaro Central in Richmond, Kentucky, he certainly wasn’t bothered by the appearance. In fact, there was plenty of intrigue over the old dragstrip warrior.
While the dates are a bit fuzzy, the GTO was a regular at Blue Grass Drag Way in Lexington. The strip was operational between 1964 and 1981, and Buddy has been told stories from people who remember the car raising hell during the mid-1970s. Among the newer stickers that adorn the car are a couple of reminders of days gone past.
So what is the program here? A .030-over 1971 455 resides underhood, backed by a Muncie four-speed with a Centerforce clutch and an “842” rear axle filled with 3.55 gears and a locker. It’s not as much of a wild child as you would expect…yes, it barks and shakes and sounds like angry Pontiac, but the goal for the GTO is to be a street driver, something that Buddy can take out whenever he feels like hitting up a Somernites Cruise or just wants to have a bit of fun.
One notable spot of damage on the GTO is just behind the roofline, on the top of the rear quarter. There’s several creased-in divots and even a small puncture wound. At some point, the GTO was stored in a warehouse and a couple of juveniles decided they wanted access to the trunk. So they commandeered a fork truck and attempted to open the trunk from the left-side’s leading corner…right where the hinge would be.
This GTO is a time capsule. Have you ever heard the phrase, “It can only be original once”? Some builders go out o their way to fake patina like what this GTO has. But this isn’t faked. This is fifty years of hard livin’ in rolling form. You can nit-pick whether or not the cracked, questionable white paint should remain on the car, or whether or not a 1965 GTO should be restored, but in our eyes, doing either would be erasing everything that this Goat has gone through. There are seas of restored GTOs if that is your bag. There aren’t many street-driven throwbacks to when these were just cars anymore. The car isn’t rotten, it’s not a danger to anyone inside of it. It’s honest, it’s brutal, and it’s got presence. We just wish we had shot the car at night to allow that presence to shine through: the old fighter, still kicking, back and better than ever, scarred and all, ready for another round.