A Goat of a Different Color
Jim Black - August 19, 2014 12:06 PM
The right color choice can be a difficult decision. For Larry Fuchs, an Arlington, Nebraska farmer, selecting that “color of choice” for his recently restored 1965 GTO was an ongoing process to put it mildly!
In 1997, just a couple of years following the restoration of his 1966 Pontiac Tempest, Larry decided it was high time to get that GTO that he had always wanted. Larry had purchased his ’66 Tempest new after working hard and saving for two years, disappointed that he didn’t have the ‘cash’ to cover the cost of a new GTO. “Don’t get me wrong, I have no regrets in my decision to buy the Tempest and I still love that car,” Larry recalled. “It was my first car and although I wanted a GTO, I just wasn’t willing to save for another year to get one.”
In 1998, Larry and his son Russ started looking for a suitable ’65 GTO. “We found one locally and our test drive with the owner included a thrill ride at 90mph down interstate 80, but that car was just too cut-up and not in that great of shape,” Larry said. “We finally found another one near Bassett, Nebraska out in the Sandhills and we drove up there to check it out.”
This particular ’65 GTO hardtop was originally painted Reef Turquoise with turquoise interior and came with the requisite 389 V-8, standard four-barrel carburetion, and three-speed stick shift. “At some point, the original owner had changed out the three-speed for a four-speed, but other than that, the car was nearly all-original and complete. It had been garage-stored for the past 10 years and had very few options, which I felt was the way a true muscle car should be.”
Larry wasted no time in making an offer and purchased the ‘goat’ in June of 1998 which included complete Pontiac Historical Services (PHS) documentation.
Assembled at the Fremont, California plant, Larry’s 1965 GTO came with special “California-only” emissions and was delivered to Miles Buick-Cadillac-Pontiac in Hawthorne, California. In 1965 the GTO was still an option on Lemans. Total cost was $3,074.88 MSRP, not including final destination charges. The GTO option (code 382) cost just $295.90.
Once Larry and Russ got the car home, the GTO remained in storage for the next 10 years. “I did have some work done which included new rear quarters, wheel houses, and trunk pan installed with the body shell shot in primer,” he said.
Larry contemplated having the GTO professionally restored. “I first met Jim Mott in 2001 at the Pontiac-Oakland Club International (POCI) Convention in Red Wing, Minnesota,” he said. “He had a car there, a ’65 GTO that was one of the nicest restored cars at the convention.” In 2006, Larry talked to Mott at his shop (Jim Mott Restorations) in Idaho Falls, Idaho. “A friend of mine needed to pick up a car in Boise, so we made a stop in Idaho Falls on the return trip,” Larry said. “During my visit, I was impressed with Jim’s operation, his knowledge of GTOs and his dedication to his craft.
“It didn’t take me long to decide to have Jim finish the restoration of my GTO, but unfortunately I was on a waiting list until the spring of 2008,” Larry said. “I did like it that Jim would allow me to help out by doing some of the work myself. In the meantime, I chose to handle the drivetrain and chassis restoration on my own to help move the project along.”
Larry took the original numbers-matching WT code 389 to Charlie’s Speed & Machine in Blair, Nebraska, for a rebuild. The block was boiled and cleaned, heads resurfaced, new cam bearings pressed in, valve job done, and the original crankshaft polished.
Larry chose to retain the four-speed with the rebuild duties extending to son Russ. The rebuild included new synchronizers, reverse gear, and gasket set. The standard 3.23:1 open rear was also taken apart, new seals installed, right-side axle replaced, and center section and driveshaft media-blasted and painted, along with new universal joints.
Larry and Russ went to work on the chassis, media-blasting, then priming, filling, and sanding in preparation for paint using two coats of Eastwood Chassis Black. The front and rear suspension was rebuilt, including new brakes and brake components, and stainless brake and fuel lines were installed from In-Line Tube.
In March of 2008, Larry delivered the GTO to Jim Mott Restorations. Jim replaced the previously installed aftermarket rear quarters, wheel houses, and trunk pan with better correct originals and did other sheet metal repair. Following these repairs, the body was reunited with the chassis and all panels were hung, properly aligned, and gaps checked prior to blocking. Four coats of high-build DuPont polyester primer was applied and allowed to cure then block-sanded with 80, 120, and 180 grit papers until it was arrow straight and smooth. After another cure, the car was sprayed with PPG K-38 urethane primer, cured again, and blocked with180 grit, cured yet again, then wet-sanded to 600.
From the beginning, Larry was adamant that he didn’t want his GTO painted the original factory Reef Turquoise. “I never did care for that color even after seeing a few restored cars in fresh turquoise paint,” Larry said. “It just wasn’t appealing to me.” Jim Mott tried unsuccessfully to get Larry to reconsider, knowing full well that a points deduction would be levied on the car if it wasn’t painted in the original color and entered in a GTOAA or POCI points-judged event. Initially, Larry chose Starlight Black with an interior color change to parchment, but a few weeks later changed his mind to Nightwatch Blue, then later again Iris Mist was considered.
“I just was never happy with my color selection(s) and never satisfied once I made a decision,” he said. “But at least I stayed with 1965 year specific color choices.”
In July of 2008, Larry and a friend were attending the Pontiac Nationals, checking out the show field and spied a 1965 GTO painted in Blue Mist Slate. “It was beautiful, and I had no problem deciding on this color, but … a few weeks prior to final painting …. I changed my mind again, and went with Blue Charcoal,” Larry admitted. “Looking back, if I had had a few more weeks, I probably would have changed my mind yet again.”
Completed just in time for the 2010 GTOAA Convention in Wichita, Larry's GTO earned a first in Popular Vote competition and followed with a Silver Award in Points-Judged competition in 2011. The car has also earned multiple ‘first-place’ and ‘best of’ honors at other local and regional shows.
“At the time of purchase, I didn’t realize just how exceptional this car was,” Larry said. “I’m glad that I decided to have it professionally restored and happy with how it turned out.”