Israel & Maribel Hernandez's 1965 Pontiac GTO Convertible
(from Volume 29, Issue 346)

story by owners Israel and Maribel Hernandez, photos by Michael B. Kelly


We are Israel and Maribel Hernandez from Lake Wales, Florida with a 1965 Pontiac GTO convertible, which is 1 of 11,311 convertible made that year (in comparison there were 55,722 hardtop models and 8,319 coupes in 1965). Considered by many as the first muscle car, the GTO was intended for racing. We were on the hunt for a classic car at car shows, dealers, and on the internet for many years until we came across this GTO on the internet in Sherman Oaks, California. The dealer shared they were selling this GTO for the lead singer of The Who, Roger Daltrey. We had a video call with the dealer to virtually see the car from all angles and had them drive the car to listen and see how the engine performed. The car checked all the boxes, a deal was made, and we had it shipped to our house in Lake Wales, Florida in December of 2022.

At the front, the car came fitted with two stacked headlights on each side of the vehicle. They flank the typical Pontiac’s split grille. The hood sports a bulge with two scoops, and the car is powered by a tri-power 389 cubic inch V-8 engine rated at 360 horsepower and 4-speed transmission, as this one was equipped when delivered. On the rear fascia, it has wrap-around taillights fitted with horizontal slats and underneath the rear chromed bumper, are dual exhausts. The interior is not only sporty but also luxurious, including wood grain on the dash. The speedometer is adorned with checkered flag symbol on its dial. A pair of Parchment color front bucket seats and a bench seat in the back provide room for five adults, and it has a shifter with no middle console.

The ‘65 GTO convertible became our choice because it met many of our wants. The GTO is in mint condition, the body and engine were restored completely, it has low mileage, and a beautiful color that looks like glass and changes color between purple metal flake to black depending on the light source and viewing angle. When sunlight hits it just right it looks purple, and black when the sunlight level is lower. We don’t see too many of this year on the road or at car shows. We like that it is a muscle car, is loud, a convertible, and attracts attention everywhere we go. We often see people take pictures or honk their horn to ask us the year and express how beautiful the car is.

Israel’s love for classics started at a very young age and he has owned many cars and motorcycles. They include a 1962 Chevy Corvair, 1955 Buick Roadmaster, 1972 Buick Skylark, 1967 Triumph Spitfire 4, 1970 to 1972 Lincoln Continental, and on the motorcycle side a 1985 Suzuki 1150 and a 1975 Kawasaki 900. Israel drag raced motorcycles for many years at Union Grove Drag Strip in Wisconsin and on the street.

Our love for cruising started with “Scoop the Loop” in downtown Waukegan, Illinois where people gather Friday and Saturday nights to cruise, to see and be seen, to meet and greet. Scoop the Loop began in the late 1940’s and continues today. With the move to Lake Wales Florida from Wisconsin in 2007 we made the Old Town Saturday Nite Cruise in Kissimmee our new cruise destination, first as a spectators and as a cruise member in 2023 when we got the GTO. We like the family oriented show, plus that fellow cruisers are friendly and watch each others cars. In 2010, we co-hosted a “Waukegan Nights” event at Old Town in Kissimmee, with many friends now living in Florida joining us with their classic cars from time to time. CN