Look up “muscle car” in the dictionary and you’re almost guaranteed to find a GM A-body pictured. If that dictionary is worth its binding, the car better be a GTO. While the individual tenants of American performance could be found in earlier cars, Pontiac put them all together in one sinister package equally capable of a quarter-mile blast or a comfortable trip to the grocery store. This 1965 GTO convertible is an impressive example, which sits today in our showroom as the result of an extensive frame-off restoration.
But before we get to far let’s first decode the VIN and fender tag.
•37: Tempest LeMans
•67: 2-door convertible
•P: Pontiac, MI assembly plant
•313328: basic production number
And now for the fender tag:
•06A: 1st week of June 1965 Build date
•65-23767: 1965 Pontiac 2-door convertible Le Mans
•PON: Pontiac, Michigan assembly plant
•11548: Production sequence
•Trim: 218B – Parchment Vinyl Interior
•Paint: D-4 – Fontaine Blue with blue soft top
•L: 4-speed floor shift
•5N: GTO option (PON/KC plants only)
You would never guess based on its current condition, but in 1994 the previous owner found this GTO as a rolling chassis that was missing the engine and transmission and in desperate need of a complete restoration. So the owner devoted countless hours of good ole elbow grease and restored the car for show at various shows. With this ’65 GTO he ended up picking up the Concourse Gold Award from the GTO Association of America in 1998. Not only does this car have the sought after Tri-power setup and features an awesome color combination, but it also left the factory with the rare blue soft top instead of the standard white.
Tough, understated and attractive, this GTO perfectly defines Pontiac’s lasting legacy of tempering sophistication with aggression. The front of the car is dominated by trademark, stainless-trimmed grilles that are anchored between stacked headlights, a pristine, satin-finish arrowhead and a broad chrome bumper. Inside those grilles, a prominent “G T O” emblem hints at the performance bolted beneath a new-for-1965, GTO-exclusive hood scoop. At the sides of that scoop, expressive ''coke bottle'' fenders hang dent-free wheel trim and arrow-straight rocker guards around familiar GM door handles. On the outside of those fenders, bright GTO crests combine with black “G T O” scripts to create visual sizzle that matches the car’s visceral thrill. Above those crests, Soft Ray glass combines with brand new stainless and a correct chrome mirror to highlight the car’s super clean profile. And behind that glass, a second chrome bumper hangs small reverse lamps below a finned valence, an ominous “G T O” badge, a second arrowhead and appropriately centered “PONTIAC” lettering that lets everyone know EXACTLY who outran them.
Lift the hood to find GTO power in the form of an era-correct 360hp 389ci V8. Originally leaving the factory with a standard 4-barrel carburetor, the owner opted to go for the potent Tri-power setup. The powerful mill is branded with a 9778789 casting code and a WS code stamped under the passenger side cylinder head and an E286 (May 28th, 1966) casting date in the distributor valley. Topped with a correct Tri-Power setup, it spins to life easily and idles with none of the fussiness that other multi-carburetor engines seem to experience. The carb linkage swivels like it’s lined with silk, and the engine pulls the relatively lightweight GTO with real authority. Of course, the entire engine bay has been restored and detailed for show, including Pontiac Turquoise on the block. Correct chrome valve covers and air cleaners definitely add some sparkle. In front of the engine you''ll find the original radiator, fan guard and fan shroud. Simply put, lift the engine’s hood at any car show and you’re sure to have a huge crowd around your car in no time.
Underneath the GTO is just as impressive as the rest of the build. The stout 389 sends power to a Muncie 4-speed manual transmission that then send the power to the ground thanks to a GM 10-bolt rear axle. Spent gasses travel out the rocksolid drivetrain through true dual exhausts that exit out the just below the rear of the car to create a fantastic American muscle sound. At the sides of that booming soundtrack, a professionally restored suspension is complete with manual steering and big drum brakes. At the corners of that suspension, the original 14” rally rims spin Firestone Super Wide Oval rubber.
Open the doors and you’ll be greeted by a stylish Parchment vinyl interior that is a fantastic blend of style and simplicity. On the seats you’ll see the stylish diagonal pattern that is unique to the GTO and the symmetry of the seats in this car is the result of careful fitting and lots of extra time spent during final assembly. With the same kind of styling as the rear valence, the center console is beautifully finished, offering storage space and easy access to the Hurst 4-speed with cue ball shifter. A hood tach wasn’t available in ''65, but this one offers a set of crisply detailed in-dash gauges, including the tachometer and checkered flag speedometer. On the floor, new carpet anchors the chrome Hurst shifter and black, Pontiac-branded floor mats. At the sides of the car, fresh door panels hang chrome handles and bright GTO crests. In front of the driver, a steering wheel spins a wood rim around a Turquoise, Pontiac-branded horn button.
Included in the sale of this immaculate ’65 GTO is Pontiac Historical Services documents, un-fitted convertible top boot, and plenty of restoration photos that show just how extensive this frame off restoration was.
This pristine, 1965 GTO is a fantastically restored showpiece that packs unbeatable performance in a highly desirable wrapper. Backing a potent Tri-power 389 with a reliable drivetrain and universal appeal, it’s the kind of car that’ll be a pleasure to own for years to come. If you’ve been patiently waiting for the opportunity to pick up a flawless example of the ORIGINAL muscle car, here’s your chance!