The process of finding and restoring rare cars can be a very rewarding experience. Dennis Buys Cars is a California dealership that buys and sells all types of cars. At any given time you’ll never know what you can find on Dennis’ car lot. There could be a late model Honda, a 2008 Tesla Roadster and a 1949 Chevy Coupe all next to each other. However, our secondary focus is doing quality restorations of interesting classic cars.
A call came in one morning from a gentleman who needed to sell his 1968 Pontiac GTO. He explained to me that he bought it brand new when he was eighteen years old and has been the sole owner since and the only reason he was selling it was because he got laid off and needed the cash. He got into a minor fender bender with it and it has been sitting outside at a storage lot in the Los Angeles area since 1991. According to him the car was all original and he had a folder of receipts related to every penny he had spent on the car over the years. He said it even still had the original California Black Plates which means the car spent its whole life in sunny California where there is no salt on the roads which leads to cancerous rust. He told me what he wanted for it I told him that he was “in the ball park”. I could hardly contain myself and tried to disguise my excitement, this was the Holy Grail of classic car buying stories and he wasn’t asking for a million dollars for it. The GTO started it all and is considered by most to be the first Muscle Car. We made an appointment at 9am the next day where the car was located and I made sure I had enough green cash on me in case we made a deal. There was no way I was leaving without this car.
I was there at nine sharp and there it sat in all its neglected glory. The car had been hit in the nose, not hard enough to crush the radiator into the fan but certainly bad enough so that I could not open the hood. It is not often that I buy a car when I cannot look at the engine or even start it. He explained that the engine had been rebuilt and was running fine when it was parked. He showed me the paperwork of the rebuild but was not sure if they had saved the original block. It was very common to start fresh with a new block when rebuilding in those days because it was cheaper making it the main reason why GTOs with the original 400 cubic inch motors are so hard to find today. This is a huge factor to determine value so I was taking a risk because obviously I could not check to see if it was numbers matching car.
I walked around the car. There were dents everywhere but there was not a speck of rust. This was a typical California survivor. The interior was original with no rips or tears.
I did not even argue and told him I would pay what he was asking. I counted out the cash on the hood, did some paperwork and the GTO was now mine.
The first order of business when we got it back to Dennis Buys Classics was to get the mangled hood open so we could check the engine. The engine was completely original, all numbers matched on engine and transmission. It even had the original air cleaner with the “400 C.I.” sticker on it. We cleaned out the gas tank, fuel lines, changed fluids, plugs and wires. It fired right up and purred like a kitten. I jumped in it, drove it around the block, no weird noises, it shifted fine and I was in heaven.
Because of the good mechanical condition, lack of rust and major body damage this was a relatively easy restoration. For body and paint we enlisted our old friends at Beverly Hills Body and Paint. They did a super job in the original Verdoro Green.
The interior needed only upholstery and carpets. For the “cool factor” we installed 1” lowering springs, a rear Judge Spoiler and front disc brakes. Everything else is bone stock.
Take a look at the videos and let us know what you think! And remember, if you have a classic car, truck or motorcycle you want to sell, gives us a call. 310-253-9977. Thanks, Dennis Goddard.