1966 Pontiac GTO

1966 Pontiac GTO restoration with modern updates for today’s driving comfort.

This vehicle received extensive rust repair, including both fenders and quarter panels. A complete PPG base coat/clear coat custom paint job was done, along with all new upholstery. A 1968 400 block was used to create a mild street engine for this build. It has an Edelbrock E-Street throttle body fuel injection system. A Tremec 6-speed manual transmission and hydraulic clutch replaced the original 4-speed setup. The 10-bolt differential has fresh 3.73 gears and Eaton posi. For comfort, we added Vintage Air A/C, Dakota Digital HVAC controller and VHX gauges, along with cruise control. An American Autowire harness was used to upgrade the electrical system. Circle Racing billet wheels were added with Cooper tires.

After a few years of driving and letting the E-Street EFI self-tune, we were still not happy with how it ran.  The E-Street system is VERY limited regarding parameter adjustments.  After double and even triple-checking all sensors and wiring, we tried changing the intake.  An Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap intake was painted to match the motor, and we even tuned-up the DUI HEI ignition.  The engine still ran crappy.  Meanwhile, we had successfully installed a few of the new Holley SNIPER throttle-body EFI setups on other projects.  We decided we could either keep fighting the E-Street, or just remove it and replace with a Sniper.

Since the car was already EFI equipped, a day or two was all it took to have it ready to run with the Holley setup.  As soon as the engine fired up, it was obvious it was going to run much better from here-forward.  After 500 miles, most of the self-tuning was complete and the car was very close to running perfect.  A few laptop tuning adjustments brought the drivability to almost multi-port EFI performance.

This car is now extremely comfortable to drive.  The gauges are all dialed in, the EFI works perfectly when the AC cycles, and the cruise control is just as smooth as a new vehicle.  The 6-speed provides just under 2000 RPM at 80 MPH for those long power-tours through Utah and other states.  In 5th-gear, 70 MPH is about 2300 RPM for cruising through California.  Plenty of options for all driving conditions.  If encountered, stop-and-go traffic is much easier to navigate with the hydraulic clutch setup and the dual electric fans help keep the AC cold when the car is not in motion.

Since the factory sealed-beam headlights were barely adequate for 1966 traffic, our normal recipe of HELLA E-code H4 replacement lenses were installed.  Instead of the power-hungry Halogen H4 bulbs, a 6000-Kelvin set of HID bulbs were installed.  Now there is 3X more usable light and it is placed onto the roadway where it is most needed – – not in the eyes of on-coming traffic.  As a bonus, this extra night visibility uses 1/3rd of amperage of the Halogens.  To add safety to the rear, LED replacement tail / brake lights were installed.  Traffic behind us can now see the brake lights about 300-feet further back than the incandescent bulbs they replaced.  The HID headlights and LED tail lights are also much better for foul-weather driving.

These days, safety and comfort can be added to muscle cars while being very stylish at the same time.