Welcome to Cactus GTOs, Inc.
By Bill McCoy

September 9th, 2005

Another Western Regional Show has come and gone.   The Southern California Gathering of the Goats (SCGG) put on a very nice show as they usually do with about 55 GTOs in the judged class and another 10 to 15 Pontiacs in the just for show.   Due to the price of gas our club had only two vintage GTOs at the show, Mike Baumgardner and Burt Kratzer.   However, Mark Gacy brought his very nicely restored 66 GTO peddle-car instead of his 64 GTO hoping to get it judged. Also Gordy Cowen and Sherry Stolts also made it in their Chevy rental. This has to be the first time in many years that no one from the Cactus GTO Club won an award at this event.   At the awards ceremony they had people stand up as they counted down each year that people had come to their shows. When they mentioned a year you were not there you had to sit down. Almost half of them had been to only a show the last year or the last two years.   So there is new blood coming into their club, a good sign. I had been going since 1991 and Mike and De ha gone since 1990.   The three of us were among the longest ones left standing.   It kind of makes you stop and think about how time just keeps on passing.   Sometimes we don't even think about it as we go through each day.   To commemorate their 20 th show they showed slides of prior car shows during dinner.   Unfortunately, several of us went out to dinner elsewhere and missed most of it. I'll let Mark Neumann cover most of the show events.

Dan Long had asked me to come with him to this show so we could talk to the SCGG club about Cactus GTOs doing the show in Phoenix in 2007.   I rode over to the show with Mark Neumann and his son Alex. Leaving town about 6:30 PM Friday. Dan was planning to meet us on the west side of town but canceled out on us just minutes before we planned to meet him.   So we went on without him.   I talked to Mike Radke the President of their club on Saturday morning at the show about our club being interested in doing the show in two years.   He said they would be interested in taking a year off as some of their members have gotten a little tired of running the show.   I told him we were just exploring the possibility of doing the show at this point.   Mike said he would e-mail me a show-planning guide that they had put together so we could see what it takes to run a show such as this.   So it looks like we will need to work on a formal proposal to present to them if we want to do this event.   Stay tuned.

One of the highlights of the show this year was that they had the 64 GTO there that had been used in the Car &Driver comparison with the Ferrari GTO in 1964. (See my last article about this on this site.) Jim Wangers did a nice talk for the group with the DJ at the car show interviewing him.   Jim explained that the 64 in the article had a 421 Pontiac engine in it and that it had gotten the Royal Bobcat treatment at Royal Pontiac in Michigan before it was sent down to the Daytona track for the test.  

Jim told an interesting story about how he had bought the car from Pontiac after the test and would take it out on Woodward Avenue to see how it did against the locals.   About this time the original engine let go and had to be replaced.   Apparently, one the local cops stopped Jim for speeding a few times and would let him off with a warning only if Jim promised to sell him the car when he wanted to get rid of it.   So a year later Jim sold him the car for about $2900.   The cop kept it until 1989 but did not drive it much.   He did run it and show it at various drag strips throughout the 80s. Jim says the paint on the car is still the original paint.

The cop that bought the car from Jim had a heart attack in 1989 and passed away.   His wife sold the car to a museum in New York or New Jersey.   It stayed there until about 6 months ago when it was sold to a man in California that works at one of the movie studios.   He brought it to California where he showed it at this years car show.   The most interesting part of this story is that this man was the son of one of the ad men Jim Wangers worked with at his ad agency in Detroit back in the 60s when he owned this car.   Jim had given his father a ride in this very same GTO in 1964 or 1965 and this man who was 5 years old at the time got to ride in the back seat while Jim gave them a ride.   He must have been impressed because at the age of five he said he would own this car some day!   So here we are 40 years later and he has fulfilled his dream of owning the car he and his dad rode in with Jim Wangers so many years ago.

It was fun to see them do a photo shoot with him and Jim Wangers.   He sat in the back seat where he had sat as a five-year-old boy while Jim sat in the drivers seat as he had done 40 years ago.   It was a touching moment for those of us that were bitten by the Pontiac GTO bug as youngsters.   Many of us have never lost that feeling about these cars.   It's something we will live with our entire lives. We are fortunate to have someone like Jim Wangers to help us celebrate those Glory Days. Let's hope Pontiac can recapture the excitement with great cars going forward like the new GTO and the Solstice.

Next month I'll try to cover more about the new Solstice.   Hopefully, there will be one in a dealer near you by then.   Let's see who can see one first.   Let us know if you see a real Solstice on the road or at a dealer.

Until next time…

The "Real" Bill McCoy

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Next regular club meeting scheduled for Wednesday, June 27 2007