1965 Pontiac GTO Hardtop - Factory Original Tripower Intake!

Price: US $49,000.00 Item location: McCordsville, Indiana, United States
  • Condition: Used
  • Make: Pontiac
  • Model: GTO
  • Type: Coupe
  • Trim: Hardtop
  • Year: 1965
  • Mileage: 20,000
  • VIN: 237375P236962
  • Color: Blue
  • Engine size: Factory Tripower
  • Number of cylinders: 8
  • Fuel: Gasoline
  • Transmission: Manual
  • Drive type: RWD
  • Interior color: Blue
  • Drive side: Left-hand drive
  • Vehicle Title: Clear
  • Want to buy? Contact seller!

1965 Pontiac GTO Hardtop

Here is a 1965 Pontiac GTO hardtop with a factory original tripower! I'd love to keep the car forever, but I'm moving on to a very nice '73 Blazer restoration, so it's sadly time for me to say goodbye. When I bought the car in 2011, the paint and body work was in very good shape, but mechanically I could tell it had been sitting for a long time. The paint was perfect for what I was looking for. Very nice to drive, but not a totally flawless show-quality paint job that would win a prestigious car show. Since I rebuilt this car to be a comfortable car you could drive every day like a new car, I didn’t want the paint to be any nicer than it is, because then I’d be scared to ever get it out on the road.
When I bought it, I ran the VIN number through Pontiac Historical Services, and found out that it was a true, charcoal blue GTO hardtop with a blue interior. The only options were what the drag racers of the 60’s wanted… A Muncie M-21 close-ratio 4 speed transmission, 4.11 positraction rear end, “rally” gauges with tachometer, and most importantly, the 389 tri-power engine. Lots of guys add tripower intakes onto old GTOs these days, and will pay big money for them, but finding one that is original to the car adds a lot of value. I was actually really surprised when I found that out!
Since the car had been sitting for a long time, most of the mechanical parts of the car needed to be restored or refreshed. Some guys want to rebuild the car exactly the way it came from the factory. If that is what you want, this is not the car for you. I wanted to drive the car comfortably, and having no power steering, old drum brakes, and a brass radiator in today’s traffic is honestly an accident waiting to happen. So I came up with a plan to modernize the car to make it fun and comfortable to drive, but without ruining the classic looks of the car. Some guys go too modern with digital gauges and seats out of a 2015 Corvette, and in my opinion, that ruins the “classic” look of a classic car. I think I’ve found a nice balance between old GTO originality and modern comfort.
Here's most of what I’ve done to the car:
1) Replaced the old frame with a frame from a GTO convertible, which is stronger, and reduces the twisting and flex these old cars had
2) Replaced the old drum brakes with a Wilwood power disc brake system in the front, which makes the car stop like a new sports car
3) Replaced the old brass radiator with a new BeCool aluminum radiator, which keeps the car running cool in traffic
4) Added power steering, and upgraded the steering wheel to the correct 1965 wood wheel option
5) Replaced the 4 speed transmission with a TKO-500 5 speed overdrive transmission, for better fuel economy and better takeoffs from a stoplight
6) Switched to 3.36 rear end gears, which burns all the rubber you want in 1st gear with the new transmission, but gets even better fuel mileage on the highway
7) Completely upgraded the suspension with Bilstein shocks, new springs, polyurethane bushings, and new upper and lower control arms front and rear. The car corners like a new sports car (although you’d really need to hang on with the original bucket seats!)
8) Upgraded to 18” Torq-Thrust wheels for a modern, yet classic look. The new disc brakes require at least 16” wheel if you want to go back to smaller wheels.
9) Added Dynamat and B-Quiet sound insulation throughout the cabin, which adds some weight to the car, but makes it much quieter to drive like a modern car
10) Replaced the exhaust system with long-tube headers and a 2.5” Magnaflow dual exhaust system. I added resonators to eliminate any exhaust drone
11) Switched to a 67+ 11-bolt water pump for even better cooling, and more belt accessory options
12) Added rear seat belts from a 69 Chevelle for safety... Easily removed if you want originality.
Once I was completed with that, I thought I was ready to roll, but the old engine gave out and was in need of a complete rebuild. I took the engine to Paul Sandoval up in Kokomo. http://www.sandovalperformance.com/
I wanted to keep the original tripower intake on the engine, since that it what makes the car desirable. We decided to swap out the internals of the engine to upgrade from 389 cubic inches, and instead used forged pistons, stroker crankshaft, and rods, upping the displacement to 461ci. In addition, we replaced the old heads (which required leaded gasoline) to “6X” heads, which were ported for more power, and allows the car to run on 91+ premium unleaded pump gas. We also used a mild Comp Cams camshaft and lifter set. It totally woke the car up. I’ve never had it on a dyno, but I would estimate it makes around 450 horsepower. It’s a very strong runner, but I didn’t want to make it a full-out race car, since my main goal was to make it fun and easy to drive on the street. With the engine upgraded, I actually switched the rear end gears out, because with the 4.11 rear end, all it did was smoke tires into third gear. I switched to a milder 3.36 rear end, which still smokes tires in first gear, but gets GREAT fuel economy on the highway. It’s no Prius, but cruising at 65-70mph on the highway it actually gets around 18 mpg! City driving is closer to 10-11mpg. Very respectable for a 53 year old muscle car! I’ve put about 8,000 miles on it since the rebuild.
Guys selling these cars always say “Needs nothing! Drive across country today!” That is ALWAYS a lie, because these cars always have a few things here and there that need addressed… Even If you pay $300k for one. I will say that I would absolutely drive this car to California and back tomorrow if I had the time. Mechanically, it’s very reliable, and will give you many good years. But to give full disclosure, if I end up keeping it, here are the things I would address in the next several years. Nothing that pressing, just things that’ll eventually need done:
1) Some guys tried to steal the gas tank out of it a few years back, and ended up scraping the bottom of it all up. I’d put a new tank in to make it prettier.
2) The driver seat will probably need restuffed within a few years. It’s been sat in enough that it’s getting a little saggy. Could use the springs tightened and new foam.
3) Some of the chrome trim around the doors could use replaced if you want it to win shows. The chrome isn’t pitting, but it’s been scuffed enough over the years that new ones would shine much better.
4) The cardboard glove box needs replaced. No biggie.
5) Whoever painted the driver door before I owned it didn’t drill holes in the bottom to let moisture drain out. I drilled the holes as soon as I bought it, but there is a moisture bubble appearing at the bottom of the door. Although that’s the biggest issue with the car, it’s a very solid car.
One good thing about GTOs is there are parts companies that make most of the replacement parts readily available. GTO parts are not super hard to find. Ames Performance in New Hampshire and Butler Performance in Tennessee sell almost anything you need.
Although '66 is the most common year for GTOs, that's mainly because 1965 was a strike year from GM, so they only produced '65s for about half the year. That does make the '65 much more rare than the '66s.
According to the NADA guide, the tripower adds a lot to the value. Some guys insist on everything being “factory original,” which mine is not… But everything I’ve done keeps the original look of the car as much as possible. With all of the work I’ve done, mechanically it’s pretty much a brand new car, and they’ve been going up in value by about 10-15% a year, and will probably keep doing so.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments. Thanks for looking!