Muscle Car Collector to Show 1964 Pontiac GTOs
In 1963, Hollifield was a car-crazy teenager living in Mint Hill, N.C., when he read in the November issue of Motor Trend magazine that Pontiac was preparing to debut one of its mid-size models¿either a Tempest or LeMans¿with a powerful engine designed for one of the company¿s much larger and heavier cars. Although the term ¿muscle car¿ had not yet been coined, Hollifield, whose drag racing experience included a series of modified 1955 and ¿56 Chevrolets, knew he was witnessing the birth of something spectacular.
Hollifield saw the first example of his dream car a few months later in Spartanburg, S.C., at General Motors¿ annual Motorama new car show. Pontiac was calling it the GTO, a name knowingly¿maybe even jokingly¿lifted from Italian automaker Ferrari, whose own 1950¿s era GTO race cars had dominated European tracks, including LeMans.
¿That car at the Motorama was the first GTO delivered to the Charlotte zone,¿ Hollifield recalled. ¿It was gold with a black top, and I remember being impressed that it came with a standard four-speed shifter on the floor because my brother and I were trying to put one in our drag car.
¿I knew the GTO was exactly what I wanted.¿
When that same gold GTO blew by his brother¿s Impala on the way home from the show, Hollifield had a strong premonition the car would someday be his. The prediction proved accurate as he would later buy the GTO from its original owners and restore it for his collection of Pontiacs and other performance cars.
Ten years ago, Hollifield heard about a black GTO with a red interior and four-speed transmission rumored to be the final 1964 model assembled in Pontiac, Mich. When documentation verified the car¿s historical status, a sale was quickly arranged and Hollifield took it through a complete restoration. With a build date of July 28, 1964, the black ¿Goat¿ is truly a four-wheeled muscle car museum piece as it features the original engine, transmission and carburetors¿a real ¿matching numbers¿ collectible.
When Pontiac created the GTO in 1964 by shoehorning a 389 cubic-inch V-8 from its big Catalina into the mid-size Tempest/LeMans, it was simply trying to give some youthful appeal to the otherwise stodgy two-door. With this single stroke of the corporate pen, the company inadvertently generated the entire muscle car phenomenon of the 1960s.
In standard trim with four-barrel induction, the GTO turned out 325 horsepower. GTO buyers lucky enough to get the optional Tri-Power three-carburetor setup enjoyed a neck-snapping 348 horsepower at 4,900 rpm.
The power-to-weight ratio was unlike anything the American public had seen since the first V-8 Corvette in 1955, and the GTO immediately became the darling of speed-crazed young car buyers with aspirations of drag strip victories. Car buyers snapped up more than 32,000 GTO coupes, hardtops and convertibles in that first year.
Its raucous image and "instant legend" status among the high-octane crowd resulted in the West Coast band, Ronnie and the Daytonas, immortalizing the new Pontiac in the song "Little GTO."
Hollifield¿s job in the textile chemical industry supported a successful racing career¿his 1968 Pontiac Firebird owned the B Pure Stock and C Pure Stock classes from 1968 to ¿87¿and his interest in collecting muscle cars. Today he owns one GTO from every model year from 1964 to 1974.
¿There are a few really special cars in my collection,¿ Hollifield reflected, ¿but it means a lot to me that I own the first ¿64 GTO I ever saw as well as the last ¿64 built. That was a very special year, and it kicked off a decade of high-performance the likes of which we probably won¿t see again.
¿I¿m looking forward to showing them at AutoFair.¿
Food Lion AutoFair is the nation's largest show of its kind. In addition to the feature attractions, the event includes a car show featuring various makes and models from nearly 50 car clubs; thousands of parts and memorabilia vendors in a gigantic automotive flea market; a collector car auction; and nearly 2,000 car corral vehicles available for sale or trade.
The four-day event is Sept. 16-19. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Tickets for Food Lion AutoFair can be purchased at the gates on event days. Admission is $10 per day for adults with children ages 12 and under admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Parking is $5. More information can be obtained by calling the Charlotte Motor Speedway events department at (704) 455-3205 or online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.