Car Life>>driving The ’70 Gto

For me, a car's most important quality is the way it makes you feel when you jump behind the wheel. It's something that goes beyond acceleration figures, chassis design, and the quality of the parts. Sure those things are important, but it's that connection between man's feelings and the machine that defines a great car. Many cars can trigger those feelings, whether it's a high dollar exotic, a simple Japanese sports car, or a home-built race car. But what about an American muscle car?

Now a lot of people might see muscle cars as wasteful, hulking, barbaric, sloppy machines – and maybe they are.

But that's what makes them so great.

I've had the pleasure of being able to drive a lot of incredible cars thanks to my dads automotive obsessions. Roadrunners, 442's, GTO's, and the like. I've even owned a few "pseudo-muscle cars" myself – like a $600 Plymouth Duster that somehow got me through a year of high school, and also taught me the art of the peg-leg burnout. A lot of people though, even here in the USA, haven't had the chance to experience one of these machines, so I thought I'd do my best to convey that feeling through words and photos.

The subject – my dad's 1970 Pontiac GTO. When I was home for the holiday last week, we got up early and took the car for a little Christmas Eve cruise through crisp 40-degree air.

Now my pops isn't the original owner or anything, but this car has been in the family for about 15 years, although he actually traded it back and forth with his friend a couple times. Now though, I think it's here to stay. Here's a photo of my little brother and I standing by the car back in 1996. Check out the 16" HRE wheels. Pretty crazy stuff back in the mid '90s!

Early this year my dad had the car repainted in Pontiac's "Orbit Orange" color, complete with "Judge" lettering and decals. The car isn't a genuine Judge, but after years of watching the movie Two Lane Blacktop, my dad finally building a Judge clone.

This isn't one of those immaculate numbers-matching muscle cars that you see on those TV auctions, but a car for driving.

It's powered by slightly modified Pontiac 455, replacing the 400 that originally came in it. With a mild cam, the car has that signature loping V8 sound, something I can't get enough of. You don't just hear the engine, you feel it, with the entire car pulsating at idle.

Now you might think with 455 cubes under the hood, the car would be slam-you-in-your-seat fast, but it's not. It moves well, but most modern performance cars will walk away from it. Really though, who wants to race a car like this?

There's no need to drive fast when you're in a car that grabs you like this one. Unless you just want to hear the big 455 rev up to its modest redline….

It wouldn't be a muscle car without some proper hood scoops, would it?

Staring out over the pair of scoops, you can't help but feel like you're some sort of outlaw badass.

The interior of the car is original for the most part, except for a glovebox-mounted CD changer installed sometime in the late '90s.

I don't see much of a reason for the changer though – I don't think Springsteen's Born to Run has ever left the CD player.

The Hurst Dual Gate shifter isn't original either, but it fits right in.

Coated in bright orange paint, and laden with decals and spoilers, this isn't a car for introverts. But it's not like the attention you get is bad attention.

In fact, I've never driven a car that gets more thumbs-up gestures and neck-breaking looks than this one. People love seeing a car like this on the street.

You can't park it anywhere without someone coming up and going "hey, sweet car!".

You'll also get a lot of people telling a stories about how they knew someone who had one just like it, and how bitchin' it was. A lot of these stories will be filled with ridiculous claims and false info, but it's all part of the fun.

Sometime I'd love to do a cross-country road trip in a car like this, not unlike the one in Two Lane Blacktop. Imagine the kind of stories you'd have to tell.  It's something that should be a rite of passage.

I'm sure this car will be in the family for many more years, and that there are many great stories yet to come.

A car like this stirs the soul of the person who drives it, and the people who watch it go by.

And again, that's the most important thing about an automobile.

Even if you muscle cars aren't your thing, I highly suggest finding a way to get behind the wheel of one. It's one of those things that every car-lover should do at least once.

-Mike Garrett



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Great pics of Dad's car, Michael. Remember when it was my daily driver?


sweet car, my dad used to have a 66 GTO back when he was in high school, just wish he would have kept it though


Great great article Mike.....I have nothing else to add.


Love this piece, if you need a cross country co-pilot call me up Mike, I am in!


Sweet goat. Like how you said driving it gave you the feeling of being a outlaw badass. I get that feeling when I drive my 1966 Dodge Coronet. Keep it looking good and you should get yourself a MOPAR again. Kick ass work like always. BOOOOSH!


I enjoyed this my father has owned many musle cars from a 68 GTO to his 00 Z28. He loves the car world I got him to in his words join the dark side, the import world i showed him that not all Japanese cars are crap. His first car was a 72 SS/RS mildly built 350, at age 21 he purchased a 79 Corvette L82 which he still owns and about 4 years ago he purchased a 68 Firebird which not thinking about it then turned into my car now. My car aint no trailer queen it is a real car ment to be driven you cant beat the sound of a raw American muscle car. It was a pleasure reading this.


I know that feeling all so well, my baby is a 1970 Nova SS. There's nothing like it.

GREAT write up Mike.


The only muscle car ive experienced was a 70 AMC Javelin


Nice American Muscle car Michael. I know the exact way you feel. Our family in Perth, West Australia, have always had 1969-1970 Holden Monaro's. My dad has had his for 30-odd years now and my oldest brother has owned his for 10years now. These days, they are worth half the price of a modest house for an original one, but they are extremely rare. They never came with the big block Chev motors - only the Aussie made 5L 308 or the 350Chev, but the 308's and 350's rev higher than the 454's =P. Believe me mate, i know the same way it feels to see that muscle car come out of the garage, start up and drive down the street. It's something we will never get rid of! I would love to take some photos of the car and possibly email them to you for a small feature?


That is a fantastic looking car, and can I just say, seeing that modern Pontiac in the background brings an interesting feeling. I'm an Aussie, obviously the Pontiac GTO is based on the Holden Commodore over here, so seeing it in an American environment with that different grille is strangely surreal for me.


"A car's most important quality is the way it makes you feel when you jump behind the wheel." - Never a truer word has been spoken anywhere on the Internet. Mike, do you mind if I adopt this as my personal motto? As for the article, it was business as usual - a fantastic read, a great car and pictures that somehow remind me of those old 90's photos which reside in my desk, yet still manage to be very cool and fresh.

Even though my dad and I share the same passion for classic cars, we're a bit different when it comes what they feel like to us. To my dad, his '68 Merc 250SL is just a car, only one that's old, cool and nostalgic (back in the 70s he had a little Matchbox Pagoda), but to me a car like this is more about its personality. To be honest, I've even given a name to my Datsun, as I do actually beleive that it's part machine, part living creature... But that's another story.


I was lucky enough to take a '70-something GTO through Chicago when a friend of mine bought one for his Dad. He isn't a "car guy" so he thought it was only right that I was the driver all weekend. Driving this Goat Boat was wild. Slower than I wanted, drove and steered like a boat, but Everyone who pulled up next to use was psyched, and so was I. And the owner MADE me do burnouts. Epic.


That has got to be the ugliest car featured all year.


My friend has a '78 Trans Am with a 400. and to anybody that hasn't driven a Pontiac, you're missing out. No matter how many older guys (we're both 18, and yes, the car is his, it used to be his dad's) tell us stories of their car back in the day, it's always the Pontiac guys that tell you their cars went like no other, one thing every car enthusiast should experience, whether you're a muscle guy, import guy, whatever the case, is the shaker from a Trans Am hitting the hood when you plant your foot to the floor, guaranteed smile every time.


This thing is awesome. and Two Lane Blacktop is one of the greatest car movies of all time.



If you don't like it, don't comment. This happens to be one of the best looking "real" muscle cars in my opinion. Nice write up Mike, I wanna see more stuff like this in 2010


awesome feature. reminded me of dazed and confused. would love to own one. has your dad ever thought of installing a 5 speed?


Beautiful Car!! I once owned a 71 Mach1 Mustang with a 429, I LOVED that car. Wish I still had it.


Awwww such a great car! Jeeze, what i would do to own one.


I agree with the first comments about driving. My mom and several other people I know think of a car as just as mode of transportation. It's much more than that. Thanks to those who do understand. Wallpaper some of these pics please. I've lusted after a 70 GTO before. The first time was when I bought a 1/24 scale model of one in this exact same color. Beatuiful car, and it's a shame that GM killed Pontiac. Bad GM, bad. Anyways come up to Hot Aughst Nights in the Reno/Sparks Nevada area. It's all about classic and vintage cars. I'd love to see this GTO among it's sisters. I'm always there each year cuz Im a local.


nice i love goats. we need a muscle car month


Great post Mike, very awesome car. Looks great :)


I agree, muscle car month is a must have, both modern and classic.


i whole heartedly agree with jay.... my dad had a goat i love these cars, but this ones got me feeling a little "dazed and confused"!!!!

ah young milla jovovich so hot


Nice article Mike. Great pics as well. Your Dad and Mom I'm sure, are gleeming with pride.


Realy great car!


great wheely bin..


Thanks all! Had a ton of fun shooting/writing this one!


my dad has a 70 lemans. sweet car!


Great write up Mike...when you wrote about how a car excites a person no matter what it is so true. I couldnt have said it better myself.


AWESOME FEATURE, Mike! Thank you! Yes, a month dedicated to muscle would make everyone happy!


LEARN TO APPRECIATE ALL KINDS OF AUTOMOBILES! Shut up if you're going to mock it!


The stock body lines are that of a 4yr old boys best car rendition. That thing is ghastly!


@ Jay, aww, did I hurt your feelings? Not only is it ugly, it's a FAKE. A !st Gen Camaro is drop dead gorgeous IMO. I absolutely love the look of Mach 1's as well. Don't tell me I can't voice my opinion on an open forum you numb-skull. Just because a car is featured on Speedhunters doesn't automatically give it thumbs up in my book. EVERYTHING can be subject to criticism. Grow up, get an opinion you fanboys.


Rad story Mike! Nothing like a sloppy muscle car to get the car heart pumpin'. Aren't muscle car dad's so cool! Glad you have your pops to share the car hobby/passion with. It's what my dad and I have in common, a love for cars. More stories like this from the Speedhunters crew please!


@"jasonRichards" WOW, really? I didn't know people with the mental capacity of a 4 year old could build drag car chassis! Oh and by the way what does and doesn't belong on this site is not up to you, but is in fact up to the people who maintain the site and write the articles. If you've got a problem with whats posted on here and don't think certain things belong on this site, then its your problem and not the sites and so perhaps YOU do not belong HERE!

@"AWD ATTK" What you are doing is not called stating an OPINION, its called being a JERK! Learn that there are people out there, surprise, surprise, that are in fact different to you, and like different things. I prefer muscle cars to imports, but I don't go onto the articles about Nissan Skylines and write about how horrible they are, because I, unlike your immature self, appreciate all cars and all enthusiasts. Think about that!


im just saying this site is hands down one of the best at finding unique and inspiring automobiles, everytime i check this site im shocked at the beautiful machines featured. and if they lacked any performance, they made up for it with creativity or innovation, deep inside you know this GTO doesnt compare to any of these rides, boooring, its like putting ketchup on steak know what i mean


and WTF?? this car would have been great on this page when it was silver with the 16'' HREs, way more interesting, i still love you though Speedhunters!


@"JasonRichards" I understand that you do not like this car and I also understand that you obviously share different opinions to many of the other people on this site, but what you have written on this post is far from stating an opinion, to the point it has become insulting. If you don't like a particular post on this site then don't read or comment on it and if you really feel the urge and need to do so, at least write it in a constructive and polite manner.

I'm beginning to think you did not read the actual post, it's not about a car claiming to be great, it's about the feeling, the emotion and love of the car. To make my point I will quote the first few lines of the article:

"For me, a car's most important quality is the way it makes you feel when you jump behind the wheel. It's something that goes beyond acceleration figures, chassis design, and the quality of the parts. Sure those things are important, but it's that connection between man's feelings and the machine that defines a great car."

This says it all, this should have stopped you in your tracks, but for some reason it didn't, so instead you insulted the car and in turn the person who holds the memories of this car, Mike. On top of that you then insulted all those who share similar memories and experiences, who posted their memories on here for people to read and enjoy.

Shame on you!


By the way, I like Ketchup on my steak, its a matter on opinion and taste, much alike the articles on this site.


AHH sweet. Time to cover a certain 55 shoebox!


Awesome ride!!!

I love musclecars and yes there should be a month dedicated to them!!:)


Reminds me of when i steal the keys to my pops '80 vette, great story


I'm just saying that you shouldn't just come on to an article and bash it for the fun of it. Show some respect, someone spent a lot of time making this post, and wether you like this car or not you should respect that. I personally don't like this model of car, but I don't bag it because I know somebody els does, and I respect that. I as a car enthusiast know what it is like to really love and care for a car you are passionate about, I know how it feels to be in that car and not give a damm about how it looks or performs, just because you love being in that car. If you want to throw around lame insults, fine, but it's not going to make you look any better. Just cool it and learn to think about how other people feel before you comment.


@jasonRichards- seriosly dude, stop hating other peoples car just cos ther not your kind of car. Everybodys different, try and appreciate that they like different cars, that's the way of the world so get used to it! + 1 to @Hotrodsforever and @_GPT_ I strongly agree with you and a muscle month would be cool mike (hint Plymouth RoadRunner hint)

cool article mike, great read!


The "defenders of criticism" on this topic are all a bunch of soft-skin children. People like different things and styles, NO SHIT. I think the car is ugly, I stated that. The simple fact that you trying to explain to me about EXACTLY what I was doing is ridiculous and hypocritical in itself!

_GPT_, It's an UGLY MUSCLE CAR. Get over it. I've criticized ugly, tasteless/ricey Evo's as well (and I even own one!) I'm a realist, not some fanboy who drools over anything this site produces. I love how once a critical comment comes up, the whole "everyone likes different things/ stop being a big meanie" argument comes up, like you're trying to teach me a life lesson or something?



Has anybody seen Two lane blacktop? I know the feeling. My first car was a 75' Nova clone. Nothing is more powerful than a v8's rumble everyday. It's kinda magic. It makes you want to keep driving constantly. Even though your wallets empty cause of the gay mileage you get.


never been a fan of muscle cars...but hell i feel like driving one now after reading this post. mission accomplished Mike, you got me interested!


absolutely beautiful, and great pics.


Ahh, what a beautiful review of a beautiful car. Two lane blacktop comes to mind when I look at this. I watched that movie recently and I just can't help but laugh at the idiot driving the goat! What a great movie.

One thing I noticed you left out: the smell!! Sorry but there is NOTHING better than the great smell of an "anti-obama" mobile such as this.


Love the article and pics!! I've always felt this way about my toys! Such as the part in the movie "Gone in 60 seconds" when the guys walk away from "Ellenor" .... "See you tommorrow, with your fine ass....."