Tony Gonzalez's 1965 Pontiac GTO (from June 2002)

photos by Steve Reyes, story by Michael B. Kelly

The Pontiac GTO has been a passion of Tony Gonzalez’s since he was 21 years old. At that time he owned his first, which was a 1966 GTO. Although, his heart was actually set on his dream car, a 1965 GTO two door post car. And while many other fine cars have come and gone, building a killer ‘65 GTO was always in the back of his mind. It took till the age of fifty to find the perfect GTO to get the dream in motion, when the ideal car for the project was located in Covington, Virginia. Once underway, the dream restoration proceeded for a year and a half straight. Pretty quick work, when you see the quality of the car. Though with Tony owning Southern Pride Classics in Winter Garden, Florida, there were plenty of resources on hand to bring it all together in a first class way.

The exterior was kept clean and simple, and when the sheet metal was massaged to perfection, a stunning black finish was applied. A set of Budnik wheels lend lots of style, and the wide Hoosier rear tires and custom chrome wheelie bars certainly give an indication of the car’s “heartbeat”.

There is certainly plenty of “giddyup” in this goat too, as it packs a 632 cubic inch Merlin Motor built by Bill Mitchell, which is good for 800 horsepower, and 822 foot pounds of torque on tap. It has a 1050 cfm Dominator carb, custom headers that go back to the four inch exhaust, and amazing detailing in the engine compartment. The term “clean enough to eat off of” certainly applies, and you can even see yourself doing it with all the chromed and polished parts, plus the “mirrored” underside of the hood. Shifting is handled by a special Ford AOD transmission featuring a 3-speed manual valve body, plus overdrive and a trans brake. A sturdy 9” Ford by Curie, with Strange axles and .456:1 gears routes the power to the pavement. Items out of sight, yet contributing greatly, are the Wildwood brakes, 4-link suspension and Alden coil over shocks.

Inside the passengers are kept safe thanks to a full roll cage, and bucket seats fitted with harness seat belts. A unique red and black interior draws you in for a closer look, as does the billet steering wheel and accessories. The trunk is home to a polished 15 gallon fuel cell, a polished battery box, and the same upholstery treatment as the main cabin.

Since the recent completion of the project Tony has been busy attending major car shows, and has received many awards and admiring looks. This GTO is everything Tony had hoped it would be, and certainly is a “go fast goat”. CN