My first car, back when I was in high school (1977), was a '64 LeMans. My second car was a '67 LeMans (I don't count the car I drove briefly inbetween these two - a '61 Comet!), so as you could imagine, I always yearned for the big brother of the LeMans - the GTO!
Years later my Dad got into old cars and bought a '51 Chevy, and started bugging me to buy a 60's era musclecar so I too could begin my second childhood. Time to buy a GTO! I started looking for the early body style of '64-'67, and was prepared to travel if needed. I looked online, found some nice possibilities, then got the idea to check the phone book. I called a few places, realized that it was a stupid idea (they're not sitting in the used-car lots), then got lucky and found this '66 nearby at Memory Lane Motors.
I bought it in August of 2000, just one week before I was to leave on a vacation to Lake Chelan in Eastern Washington. Of course I wanted to drive my new car. I did the usual things to get it ready: oil change, lube the front end, check the tire pressures, etc. The day before I was to leave I thought I'd adjust the clutch freeplay. When I took a look at the clutch fork push rod (photo), my heart sank. Where the hell am I going to find a replacement? I don't want to break down in the middle of nowhere! I called around, and the best I could find was Kirkland Pontiac, who said they could have the part in on Monday. Cool, but that would be too late. I kept calling, was about to give up, and then tried Evergreen Musclecar. They had the part in stock. Lake Chelan here we come!
A few years later my 389 was showing its age - burning oil, etc, so I decided to get it rebuilt. Because it's numbers-matching, I decided instead to pull it and buy a Pontiac 400 (much more plentiful) to rebuild. I found a 400 for $100 and took it to Dave Bisschop of SD Performance up in Canada. He's known as one of the top Pontiac engine builders in North America, so I knew I was in good hands. We decided to stroke the 400 out to 461 cubes and selected a solid lifter cam with duration of 256/262 at .050" lift. Dave ported my 6X heads to flow 240 CFM. The CR is a pump-gas friendly 9.5:1. The dyno rated this bad boy at 474 HP at 5500 RPM and 534 ft-lbs of torque at 4300 RPM.
Now that I could go, I needed to stop, so I installed a front disc brake conversion kit. While I was at it I replaced the ball joints, springs, bushings, tie-rod ends, center link, etc. The steering really tightened up as a result, and it was really nice to not have to plan in advance to stop.
To eliminate the maddening wheel-hop, I boxed the rear control arms and replaced the bushings. While I was at it I replaced the stock 10-bolt rear end with a 12-bolt built by Bill Scribner. It is slightly narrowed and running Moser axles and weld-on C-clip eliminators. I went with highway-friendly 3.31 gearing and love it. Not great at the track, but the drop in RPM on the highway is a relief!