1970 PONTIAC GTO Convertible- John Print
Written by Double Dragon
Thursday, 09 January 2014 22:41

1970 PONTIAC GTO Convertible- John


Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown

The musclecar era reached its first peak in 1970. Many people believe that the new mini musclecar era today eclipses the original high water mark. There are compelling reasons to believe that we are in the midst of the best musclecar era of all time right now today. Evidence is abundant: higher horsepower numbers and much faster cars, vintage appearance and classic names available today as brand new cars that you can drive everyday and that also handle well and have excellent brakes.

70 gto conv gold john

But if you look at the musclecar era from the standpoint of sheer numbers the first and original muscelcar era of 1964 to 1972 is the one to reckon with. Never again has such a gigantic wave of buyers gravitated towards high performance 'super cars'.

Of all the years of the original musclecar wave most concur that 1970 was the peak year. The originator of the whole craze, the Pontiac GTO was still in fine form in 1970 although its sales numbers and drag strip numbers were being strong armed out of top position by other cars.

If John DeLorean was still in charge of Pontiac in 1970 its questionable have he would have let the golden opportunity provided by GM's removal of the 400 cubic inch limit on intermediate engines pass him by. As it was, DeLorean was at Chevrolet in 1970 when Chevy released one of the all time high water mark musclecars: the 1970 Chevelle SS 454 LS6. Buick and Olds were also quick to take advantage of the cube gift from GM. The Buick 455 Stage 1 has been considered one of the only worthy opponents to the previously unrivaled Hemi. Drag strip grudge matches between these two power plants persist to this day.

What happened over at Pontiac? The excellent Ram Air IV 400 was still available but was not a commonly encountered car. More frequent brushes with Ram Air III 400s were likely. The vast majority of musclecar buyers stood pat with the GTO's standard 350 HP 400 and automatic.

70 gto conv gold john 400

GTOs were shod with 14x6 inch wheels and the optional Rally II wheels also stood pat with these dimensions. Most other musclecars had moved up to 15 inch rims and bigger tires for 1970. The big blunder at Pontiac was the release of an optional 455 that was set up simply as a big cube torque engine similar to any other large engine in any other car saddled with power accessories such as A/C, power steering and brakes etc. It was intended to absorb the power drain and still function easily under this load. No attempt was made to combine performance parts with the extra cubic inch potential the way Buick, Olds and Chevy did. In 1971 Pontiac got with the program and released the astounding 455 H.O. but by then the party was over and compression was slashed. Even in this form the engine was one of the fastest ever released by Pontiac. We can only wonder what would have happened if they had got it together with the high compression 1970 455.

70 gto conv gold john nose

All of these things hurt the GTO in 1970 with the serious racers and by this time most street racers were very serious indeed. Luckily sales were still decent as the vast majority of GTO buyers wanted an exciting image car and the GTO had this in spades. Many fans consider the 1970 GTO to be the very best looking one of all the years. Its hard to decide between 1968, 1969 and 1970. Each has its own particular slant on the same basic body configuration. The 1970 added 'muscle' accents above each wheelwell and dispensed with the hidden headlight option. The 1971 and 1972 carried forth this body with new forward placed scoops that emulated the Formula Firebird. The way the front end comes together on these later versions of the classic 1968 bodystyle has received mixed reviews over the years. But no controversy exists with the 1970. It is flat out appreciated as a fantastic bodystyle with no awkward angles.

Back in the day you can imagine that a Gold 1970 GTO convertible had to be one spectacular car and even today in worn condition this GTO is a stunner. John discovered this 1970 GTO convertible in 1987. It was in rough shape from taking a beating in the California sun which is relentless on paint. The GTO had high miles but it ran well and was pressed into street duty without any major work done to it. John paid $3,500.00 for this car.

What he got was some car! The Gold convertible had a 4 speed Hurst shifter, console, hood tach, Rally II wheels, front disc brakes, remote control racing mirror. The VIN starts with 242670P which translates as follows:

2= Pontiac

42= GTO

67= Convertible

0= 1970 model year

P= Pontiac, Michigan assembly plant

The data plate reads ST70 24267 which repeats the information above. Beside this is PON followed by a body number used internally at Fisher body.

The second line of the data plate TR 257 means the interior trim is Sandalwood. 55 A Paint means Baja Gold color

The third line 12A signifies a build date in the first week of December, 1969.

Little is known about the history of the car prior to 1980. The first ten years of the GTOs life are mysterious. What is known is that the GTO ended up in impound for unpaid tickets. The original owner borrowed money from his friend Jim to pay the impound fee. When the original owner was unable to pay back the impound fee he signed the GTO over to Jim.

Thus Jim became the second owner. Jim was now an accidental owner of a 1970 Gold GTO convertible factory four speed with factory hood tach. What many of us wouldn't do to have this kind of accident! Jim parked his new GTO at his place in Antioch, California. Below to the left is Jim's title. His last name, street address, license plate number and the significant digits of the VIN have been removed.

70 gto conv gold john titles

Jim was not attached to the car and readily sold it to John. The receipt to the right above has John's name, address, license plate number and significant VIN numbers removed. John became the third owner of the GTO and has owed it longer than both the first two owners combined.

The original white convertible top was thrashed. John changed the color to black when he replaced the top. John also added judge stripes which accent the fender 'muscle arches' above each wheelwell. For good measure John added the ram air stickers to the hood. The GTO came with rally IIs. Back in the 1980s two centre caps were stolen and replaced. A short while after being put into daily driver service the right rear quarter got hit. That is the reason for one missing stripe. By this time NOS dealer inventory of Judge stripes had been decimated and reproduction stripes weren't widely available.

The interior was in dirty rough shape when John got the GTO and he didn't do anything to the car except drive it. In the picture below you can see where the dash has cracked from exposure to the intense California UV rays.

70 gto conv gold john gove box

All convertible interiors tend to become thrashed at an accelerated rate as compared to coupes and sedans because exposure to dirt and UV rays break down the plastics used in the seats and dash. If the top is not put up quickly enough during unexpected bad weather water damage is added to the potent mix of interior woes.

70 gto conv gold john st wheel

In the shot above you can see the dirty but original custom steering wheel, console with T handle Hurst shifter and deteriorating carpets. Below the driver's seat which is dirty and sags a bit is also remarkably intact. The Pontiac Morrokide interiors were notably tough and stand the test of time very well.

70 gto conv gold john dr seat

Any car can develop mould if it sits too long without air circulating through it. A convertible with the extra dirt and exposure to the elements that it encounters is a perfect breeding ground for this problem. John read somewhere that coffee grounds in the inteiror will stave off this problem. The rear floor was dutifully covered in coffee grounds to see if this could help. But another typical scenario occurred which is the tendency for parked cars to become storage boxes.

70 GTO conv gold john seatback

Below is a picture of the driver's door panel. Moisture has wrinkled the vinyl and the dirver's door pull is starting to show the strain of thousands of door open and closings. Note the remote control for the outside rear view mirror. At the far bottom the ubiquitous 1970s aftermarket stereo speaker can be seen in the base of the inner door panel.

70 gto conv gold john doorpanel

The GTO was a daily driver and was used to pick up John's little brother Mike from kindergarten. Mike remembers those rides vividly and credits the GTO with instilling a life long musclecar appreciation into his life. Another family member influenced the future of the GTO. John was content driving his GTO until his brother got married. John's brother had been driving a 1970 Dodge Challenger convertible which was a book end to John's GTO convertible. When John's brother saw imminent marriage looming he did something very typical of the times. He sold his convertible Dodge Challenger. It's a rite of passage for many. The sacrifice is meant to symbolize commitment as well as 'putting aside childish things' in the quest to enter the higher level of maturity marriage is supposed to represent.

The avalanche of musclecars sold prior to marriage attests to the power of this purging ritual. After marriage, the yen for speed never goes away and of course John's brother found himself buying a Mustang 5.0. After a few rides in that Mustang, John was impressed by the potential in this return to performance from Ford and bought himself a Mustang 5.0 as well. And that is how the 1970 GTO suddenly found itself parked. The GTO had never broken down or done anything to deserve its banishment. Thankfully John respected the car and remembered its faithful service and repaid it by starting it once a month all the while he was playing with the 5.0 Mustang.

70 GTO conv gold john speedo

As can be seen on the odometer the car had about 150,000 or 250,000 miles when parked. Note that 1970 was the first year that Pontiac increased the speedometer reading on Lemans and GTO from 120 to 140 MPH.

70 gto conv gold john r

Life never stops. John has moved to Hawaii. The GTO keeps passing the smog tests and was kept insured so that John's brothers are able to start it up and keep it functional.

Last Updated ( Friday, 23 July 2021 19:54 )