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Best of BS 2017: The Old Fighter: This 1965 Pontiac GTO Might Be Scarred Up, But It’s Down For Another Fight

Best of BS 2017: The Old Fighter: This 1965 Pontiac GTO Might Be Scarred Up, But It’s Down For Another Fight

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.

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32 thoughts on “Best of BS 2017: The Old Fighter: This 1965 Pontiac GTO Might Be Scarred Up, But It’s Down For Another Fight

  1. Chevy Hatin' Mad Geordie

    So does Buddy Croucher walk around in rotten patched clothes that haven’t been washed for years?

    I thought not – so why doesn’t he save some bucks for a respray in the original colour and reward this GTO for its years of service? Some cars deserve better treatment than dragging themselves along as a pile of rat crap and should be restored to their former glory!

    1. Becky Neeley

      Be nice!!! This car, despite its outer appearance, is a diamond in the rough. It is garage kept and immaculate! I\’m sure your daily driver doesn\’t get as much attention as Buddy\’s GTO.

    2. Noel

      Buddy might not be walking around in rotten clothes. But I\’m guessing he didn\’t get all round plastics surgery for his non crippling injuries either.

      Its different for everyone (me included), but I have to say those scars do have their own brand of appeal.

  2. Oklxs03

    Love It! Add all the power and suspension/brakes you can and beat on it, Wipe the smiles off the shiny pretty car owners until it breaks , then fix it and do it again !

  3. Bill Butte

    Nice story!! Don’t you wonder, though, about someones ‘low self esteem issues’ that is okay riding around in what looks like an old winos car?!! It’s good because it increases the value of nice cars like mine!!

    1. Bill Butte

      And for once I agree with Fun Loving Geordie that a classic like this deserves way more respect than its getting……and being that its the rarer sedan body style, even more so!!!

    2. Aaron

      Yeah because I\’m sure everyone wants there car to be a trailer queen, i mean seriously your a little more than rude there guy, to each there own, i bet you\’re one of those guys that dont drive your \”nice\” car much to keep the miles off of it, do you not bang your old lady to jeep it tight for the next guy? Seriously get out of here with that crap, this is a straight home brewed hot rod monster that wears every bit of history from the time it was made to now.

    3. smackin

      When I had my 67 roaming the streets, it was a nice silver. So I primed half of it, but a black hood, white fender and blue door on for good measure. Then never lost a street race. Beat a RAIV goat along with a Hemi, along with every other taker. I wanted to sneak up on folks, and I did.

  4. DanStokes

    I will one again make the point that there is a W I D E spectrum between a rolling junk pile and a 100+ point restoration. A decent repaint would preserve the car and make it look right without doing the “align all the screw heads” kind of resto that renders a car virtually worthless (unless you LOVE sitting in a lawn chair).

    For some reason folks who write about cars for a living seem to think it’s either “patina” or going all the way to better-than-original perfection. I’d love to see some sanity brought back to the world of performance cars, a world where looking decent and driving the snot of of them go hand in hand.


  5. bob

    You either love the look, or you hate it. Right now it is popular. With the price of a show paint job over $20k, I’m with this guy. Make the under hood & interior nice & screw the rest. No anxiety of where to park, driving in the rain(or hail), & no waxing. Not sure I’m digging the new bumpers though. I guess that makes the statement that, hey, it’s not the money that is the object here, this is the way I want the car to look.

  6. Bryan McTaggart Post author

    FOR THE RECORD: I did not ask Buddy about future plans about the car. Paint might be on the way, I can’t say for certain. I don’t know how long Buddy has had the car and has been working on it, either. I can say that the 455, which almost looks out of place compared to the rest of the car, is his work, so who knows?

    1. bob

      I have two classic cars in this condition and all I get is positive comments & pleads to never paint or restore them. Cars that I’ve had that were one color & presentable, the only comments I ever got was, when are you going to restore it right? I drive the shit out of these cars and guess what, when I’m no longer on this earth, the next owner can restore them if that’s what they want. Here’s to you Buddy. Salute!

      1. Dan Stokes

        I would NEVER say to someone “Hey, when you gonna paint that pile of crap”. That would just be rotten manners. I DO, however, think it when I see a rough-looking otherwise decent car.

        On the other hand – to each his own. I don’t have a dime invested but if I somehow ended up with the car in the article it would get a decent (NOT $20,000!) paint job and I’d get on with using the car.


    2. Donna

      Thank you for the article Bryan! We love it and won\’t let all of the negativity ruin a nice article about a nice car!

  7. ratpatrol66

    What happened I can’t leave comments on the front page? Will somebody please let me know what I did wrong???

  8. 3nine6

    I swore that I would NEVER respond to another of asshole UK Georgie’s comments, but this one pissed me off. The car is driven, raced and appreciated for what it was and still it is. It is NOT a restored trailer queen and shouldn’t be. That’s how we do it in the USA! Don’t like it? Tough shit!!!

  9. Gump

    Ok I am getting on the paint the damn thing bus here. When I was a teenager my Duster was mechanically bad ass, but looked like hell much like this one. Every person in the world criticized me for having a rusty faded car, and that was hard for a young gearead to handle. Finally after owning it nearly a decade I had all the rust fixed then painted it. Then guess what? I still raced the damn thing because that is what they are for. Just because a car has a nice coat of color does not mean it has to sit in a grassy field surrounded by idiots in lawn chairs. Just yesterday there was a feature of a 56 gasser with a wild paint job that got beat on like a step child. I understand putting time and money into the drivetrain first, but at some point you have to attend to the rot before panels start falling off.

    1. bob

      “Run! Forrest! Run!!!”

      It’s not 1975 anymore. This is just a new way to look at an old muscle car. I find it refreshing. Fads come & go & come again. This may pass, but I kinda don’t think so with the price of muscle cars these days, this is the only way some might be able to afford one & get into the hobby. Lord knows we need some youngsters to keep this thing going on. Take a look at who is sitting in those lawn chairs at car shows. And then there is the old jeans with holes in them thing. Who’da thought.

  10. jerry z

    Now this is a perfect candidate for a Maaco paint job. For $500, throw on a matte finish paint and call it a day. Wouldn’t even care what color.

    But the car is perfect in every other way!

  11. James Wright

    Mr. McTaggart, Great article. This was my car for 20+ years, I sold it to Buddy in 2014. The last time it was on the track was at the I-64 Motorplex during the Arm Drop Drags in 2013. -James Wright (JK)

  12. cool

    I love it. I love that its still the hotrod it was intended to be when the engineers and designers dreamed it up. I love that it gets driven no matter the condition, and not just driven to church but DRIVEN. Its a very cool car. But of all the things that stand out in this story, I LOVE that the current owner and the previous owner are here in the comments. Paint it, restore it, leave it as is…. it doesn’t matter. People have made connections to this car over its life, its special for reasons far beyond its looks.

  13. Cliff

    The first word that came to mind when I saw this car was BRUTAL. Love it.
    The 65 is my favorite year goat, and post style is ALL Business! Love IT!
    Love the sorta rough exterior but fresh innards.

  14. Buddy Croucher

    I am the owner of this old Goat. To those who think I should paint it just so you know I have a 1967 Mustang GTA S code 390 completely restored. The Mustang appraised for 50K. It has won multiple best of show and first place trophies. It stays covered up in a trailer in a building. I have more fun and enjoyment with my GTO just the way it is. I have no intentions of painting my GTO not because of money but because I like it the way it is. When I die and it finds a new owner if they want to paint it they can. In the meantime I plan to keep driving and enjoyong it just the way it is. Thanks.
    Bryan you did a wonderful job I love the article! Look forward to seeing you next year my friend.

  15. Nxpress62

    That isn’t patina. Somebody just didn’t take care of it and left it outside in the sun under a rotted tarp for too many years.. To call that patina is to insult the old guys I know that have owned cars and taken care of them for 40 years, and the primer is starting to show after too many rundowns and engine changes..

  16. Ted Seals

    Good move Buddy tho I would throw a Maaco paint job on it. I remember when you drove the 62 Catalina out of Croucher Motors a while back. My brother Bill had this car for a bit. He said it is scary fast. Just the way we like em. Good luck with the GTO!

  17. Jeremy Davito

    Screw the paint! That car is gorgeous, I’ll bet it runs like a beast in the quarter mile, and it has a ton of racing history with it to boot. Go ahead and take your trailer-queen goats to the car shows and get your trophies to justify the money you paid to erase time and restore your car…this car probably has a stack of time slips trophy-high, and has provided more smiles and good times than anything. Awesome!

  18. Doug garrison

    Great article , killer 65. The owner can do what ever he wants because it his csr, and his cash. Whether restored or not , GTOs are meant to be driven !

  19. MGBChuck

    I have a ’64 MGB that is almost done (tube frame, custom suspension, 500hp SBC, 4-speed, Ford rear) that has a primered front clip. little dent in right rear due to being hit and run when it was show car nice. For the last year and a half have just been beating on it and taking it to car shows (16 of them), always draws a crowd, its looks separates the real car people from the not–car people amazed at how everything fits so nicely under a stock MGB body and how fast is it (scary fast)—non car people ask when I.m going to paint it and what color. Love this GTO just like it is (happy owner cool), if mine might be temped to fix that rear fender though. Rock On Buddy !!

  20. TheCrustyAutoworker

    While we are no fan of Rat rods or fake patina paint jobs at all, I think this thing is freakin awesome just the way it is. To all the haters tough luck, buy your own damned car and restore the crap out of it, then the world will have one more museum piece/trailer Queen… just what it needs.

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