Vintage Autos and Owners Like Greensboro's "Buzzy" Bondurant Keep Goodguys Southeastern Nationals Happily Stuck in the Past
Physicists who claim time travel is impossible should investigate the Goodguys Southeastern Nationals at Charlotte Motor Speedway Oct. 28-30, where participants such as “Buzzy” Bondurant turn back the clock with their vintage cars.
Bondurant’s five-vehicle display at the Goodguys Southeastern Nationals will take spectators back to a happy time when gas was $.31 a gallon and every car worth owning had a big V-8 under the hood.
For Bondurant, who owns the J.L. Rothrock trucking company in Greensboro, N.C., the world still hovers around the mid-1960s, an era of big V-8 engines and cheap gas.
“I got married and bought a new Plymouth Satellite hardtop in 1965,” he said. “That’s probably why I like those years so much.”
Bondurant bought that ‘65 Plymouth – a midnight blue beauty with a 383-cid V-8, four-speed transmission, and black interior – for $2,654. Fifty-six thousand miles later, the Satellite resides in his garage in its original factory condition.
When introduced with the 1965 model year, Satellite was the top trim package for Plymouth’s mid-size Belvedere hardtops and convertibles and the company found 25,201 enthusiastic buyers. The Belvedere’s 1966 restyling gave the Satellite a squarer, more muscular appearance that raised sales to 38,158 and endeared it to a generation of Mopar fans. Six years ago, Bondurant added a ‘66 to his collection, but with a few upgrades.
“The ‘66 is white with green interior,” he said, “and I modified it for better performance. The body is stock, but I put in a modern suspension, a souped-up 360 V-8 and a heavy-duty automatic transmission. I like when a car has the looks of something from the ‘60s but drives like it’s new.”
Bondurant’s love of mid-‘60s musclecars extends to all of the Big Three American makes. He has a white 1966 Pontiac GTO hardtop with the desirable red interior that was a complete car when he bought it three years ago. He recently decided the GTO was not as nice as his other rides, so it is nearly finished with a full restoration.
“It’s going to come down to the wire, but I think it’ll be ready in time for Goodguys,” he said. “The GTO has the hot setup for ‘66 – the 389 V-8, three two-barrel carburetors and four-speed manual transmission. That’s the combination that made the GTO the first true musclecar when it came out in 1964 as an option package on the Pontiac Tempest LeMans.”
Two years ago, he purchased a red 1966 Ford Fairlane GTA with a black convertible top from the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction in Scottsdale, Ariz.
“Nineteen sixty-six was the first year you could buy the Fairlane as a convertible,” Bondurant said. “Mine is a GTA, which means it came with the 390-cid V-8 and has an automatic transmission.”
Getting this caravan of time machines to Goodguys requires a stylish chase vehicle to transport the coolers and lawn chairs. That’s where the big green wagon comes in handy.
“I’m also bringing my 1970 Pontiac Catalina station wagon to the show,” Bondurant said. “It’s just an old driver, but people are starting to catch on to how cool wagons are. It has all the equipment a family would want in 1970 – air conditioning, power steering and power brakes. You never see these in good condition.”
Goodguys Southeastern Nationals
The 18th annual Goodguys Southeastern Nationals runs 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Tickets can be purchased online at www.good-guys.com or at the gate on event days. Adult tickets are $18 per day. Tickets for children ages 7 to 12 are only $7 while children 6 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Parking is $5.
Information about the Goodguys Southeastern Nationals may be obtained by calling Goodguys at (925) 838-9876 or the Charlotte Motor Speedway events department at (704) 455-3205 or online at www.southeasternnats.com or www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.