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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Classic Car Stories - 1970 Pontiac GTO - Dick hands me the keys!

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Classic Car Stories: While in high school, I had a job pumping gas at a Clark filling station. I wasn’t yet 18 years old when I graduated in the spring of 1970 and started working third shift full time afterwards.


A guy by the name of Dick worked part-time third shift on weekends. He was in his 30’s, married and had a full time job as a semi-truck driver during the week. Due to my working third shift Sunday through Thursday nights, I kept pretty much the same sleep schedule on weekends. Spending considerable time hanging out at the station when he was working, we became good friends. He was a great guy with a good sense of humor and became almost like a father figure to me, giving me a lot of good advice about life and how to handle myself growing up.


Dick worked hard and played hard. The reason he had the part-time job was for extra money that he could buy his toys with. One Friday night he came for the start of his 10 PM shift driving a brand new 1970 dark green Pontiac GTO! It had the 400 cubic inch V8 and four speed transmission in it. It was a great looking car with hood scoops and rally wheels, I think it also had a Hurst shifter in it.


Back in those days, we didn't know many people that could buy a brand new car and this was quite a shock, Dick was the center of attention for awhile with his muscle car.
A few weeks later I was at the station one Saturday night hanging out. It got to be about 1AM in the morning and said to Dick that I was going to go out and pick up a sandwich at a Suburpia sub shop before they closed. I asked him if he wanted me to pick him up one and he said “sure”. He reached in his pocket to take out some money and handed it to me along with his car keys! “Go ahead and take my car”, he said as I stood there dumbfounded. I couldn't believe he would let me drive his pride and joy (especially without him in it) and thought he was joking at first. I stammered something saying thanks and told him I would drive it safely.


So I nervously went out and got into his car. I started the motor and concentrated really hard to let the clutch out easy so I wouldn't look like a fool and stall the engine. That trip to the sub shop was sure a memorable one. I remember the car feeling so powerful on the freeway. Barely moving the throttle the car would effortlessly accelerate. I downshifted into third gear and mashed the gas peddle, shifted back to 4th, and it rocketed to over 90 MPH seemingly in an instant.
I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the first year the GTO had “variable ratio” power steering and a rear anti-roll bar and I remember noticing how well it steered and handled. It was quite unlike the 1968 Plymouth GTX that I had an opportunity to drive and did a story on.

I was so grateful he let me drive his car car that I didn't dare abuse it by burning rubber or driving carelessly but I did get on the throttle a few times and was able to feel the power. The new car smell, sound and power, I'm sure, were contributing factors convincing me to spend a heck of a lot of money on cars for most of my life! What a cool experience and one I will never forget. In fact, that was the first time I had ever driven a “new” car (barely broken in) and it was a 1970 Pontiac GTO! How cool is that for a gas pump jockey just barely out of high school making about $2.00 per hour?


And more than a decade later, I chose professional truck driving as a second career, and am still at it, after more than 30 years.

What happened to Dick? A while later, the company he drove semi-truck for went bankrupt and he lost his full time job. He was tired of driving anyway and ended up getting a job waiting tables at an upscale restaurant. We all felt sorry for him. But, as I said, Dick worked hard and played hard. Within an amazingly short period of time he ended up managing the place!

You can watch an automatic being put through it's paces on the YouTube video below.


Other of my car story posts:
Classic Car Stories:1970 Pontiac GTO - Dick Hands me the Keys!
Classic Car Stories: My Buddy's 1968 Plymouth GTX
Classic Car Stories: My Hemi Chrysler
Classic Car Stories: My 1965 Buick GS400
Classic Car Stories: Mopar Man to Chevrolet
Classic Car Stories: My Second Corvette
Classic Car Stories: My First Corvette
Classic Car Stories: My 1993 Camaro Z28
Classic car Stories: My Three Camaros - One Good, One Bad and One Great!
Classic Car Stories: Mom's 1961 Plymouth Valient

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