Judy & Tom Nichols' 1965 Pontiac GTO Convertible
(from Volume 24, Issue 298)

story by co-owner Tom Nichols, photos by Michael B. Kelly


The year was 1964 and Judy and I were dating (I married her in 1966). Back then it was a big deal to see the new cars unveiled when September came, and Judy fell in love with a 1965 GTO that was painted Iris Mist (a light lavender color). So I went to the Royal Pontiac dealer in the city Royal Oak, Michigan and tried to purchase a new GTO. However, I soon found out that since I was just 20 years old, I could not get insurance on a muscle car. So I ended up getting a 1965 Pontiac Catalina with a 2-barrel and three speed transmission. Since I couldn’t buy the GTO that Judy and I actually wanted, I hot rodded the Catalina by swapping out the intake and putting on a 4-barrel carb, installing a tri-power cam, plus a lower ratio rear end gear for better acceleration.

Fast forward many years and we had gotten married, bought a house, had kids, and lots of other things that growing up entails. Over the years we had some less than show quality hot rods, but Judy still wanted that 1965 GTO! However, I was in business for myself and never could get that GTO along the way. So for our 30th wedding anniversary in 1996, I wanted to surprise her with a 1965 GTO. After looking around I found one and purchased it. The car was a burgundy convertible with a white top, white walls and white pinstripe. I brought it home and surprised her....and well, she was disappointed. It was not Iris Mist, and not macho looking. So the first thing I did was take it to an upholstery shop and have a black convertible top installed (which now matched the stock black vinyl interior), then it was on to the tire store to have Red Line tires installed. Then she was OK with a GTO that was not Iris Mist. She loved the car and would take it to a cruise night or car show, with or without me.

Over the years the lacquer paint that had become checked and cracked, but still looked good from 20 feet away. So in 2011 we took off the doors, the hood, the fenders, and the deck lid (she thought it would never get back together). We then painted it with base coat / clear coat, still in the factory burgundy color. I have kept the GTO stock with the exception of adding air conditioning, which once we moved to the Jacksonville, Florida area upon retiring has been invaluable. Power comes from a 389 engine with Tri-Power, which is rated at 360 horsepower, backed by a 4-speed manual transmission.

Judy and I are now celebrating being married 53 years, and still have the 1965 GTO! I have several other hot rods including a 1954 Ford like the one I had in high school, and a 1940 Ford convertible. I still enjoy going to cruise-ins and car shows, and attend various events all around Florida, plus some out of state ones like the NSRA Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky and the Goodguys Nationals in Columbus, Ohio. CN