A blown head gasket kept this one in Mom’s backyard for 40 years.

Every car has a story. Some are more interesting than others. Many involve some version of “Sure wish I would have kept that car” but few detail what it would have involved to do that. Todd Eymer’s ’67 GTO is an example of a car that was kept in the family in fact, Todd’s first ride in it was when his parents brought him home from the hospital after his birth.

His parents bought the GTO as a South Dakota trade in about 1974 for $500. It was originally light blue but someone thoughtfully painted it black before Eymer’s parents found it. It was the daily driver for about a decade and as Todd got older, he would sit in the passenger seat and work the shifter for his mom or dad. Todd also has memories of his mom taking him and his brother and sister to school in it.

A story that Todd remembers his dad telling was when he sold the car to a lawyer on the condition that he rebuild the engine and add a set of headers. (Todd’s dad owned the Lyman Garage outside of Reliance, SD)  But he took too long to get the job done and had to buy the car back. He later commented that it was the best lawsuit he ever lost as it kept the car in the family.

Todd’s parents divorced in 1985 and mom ended up with the GTO. At some point, the engine overheated and it blew a head gasket. The head was removed but the engine was never repaired. Instead, the car was stashed in the weeds in Mom’s yard and sat there until 2014 when Todd and his wife Stacy met John Balow and brought the GTO to MCR. Work on the Pontiac began in 2015.

The intent for the build was to keep the car mostly stock but more importantly, build it as a driver. Todd has a quarter mile of gravel road to travel to get to his home so MCR took steps to help protect the underside and wheel wells from rock damage. The two most obvious changes were to convert the interior to all black and to spray Fathom Blue Poly instead of returning the car to black. Modern A/C and power steering were also added since this car is going to be driven.

Once finished in 2023, Todd was able to bring his dad to MCR to not just see his old car again but to also get a chance to drive it for the first time in nearly 40 years. It was an awesome experience for all that were there.

So why did it take about eight years to get the project completed? Surely it doesn’t take that long for MCR to restore a car like this? No, it certainly doesn’t. When Todd brought the car to MCR, he explained to John that as an average working man, he didn’t have unlimited funds to put toward his GTO’s restoration. John explained that was fine and they could work on the car as funds became available.  If Todd needed to pause for a season, that was OK. They would just start again as funds became available.

So while it may have taken a bit longer than Todd would have liked, in the end, his dream did come true and he can relive all those family memories every time he gets behind the wheel.

Keeping a car for forty years doesn’t mean that it will stay in the same condition. While in better shape than a lot of cars MCR sees, it will still need a complete restoration.
Leaving the windows up to keep the weather out is good but that also means that the interior gets thoroughly baked every summer. Not much left that’s usable here.
Parts in the trunk waited forty years to be reinstalled after a blown head gasket.
The engine four decades after the initial teardown was still patiently waiting to be reassembled. Of course, it’s way too late for that now but at least all the original parts were still in the trunk.
Chemically stripping the car didn’t reveal any major surprises. It was not perfect by any means but it was still better than most MCR gets to work on.
Knowing that Todd’s GTO was going to be driven on gravel, the frame and underbody were painted chassis black to make it hold up better to adverse conditions.
Again, because this one’s a driver, a four-wheel power disc brake conversion was added.
Underhood changes included A/C, power steering and brakes, and an Edelbrock carb in place of the original Holley.
Todd doesn’t remember the original wheels being on the car back in the day so a new set of Cragar SS replaced the ones that were on the car when he picked it up from his mom’s yard.
The new Fathom Blue paint practically demands a black interior over the original blue that was in the car. No, the car wasn’t built according to the VIN tag. It was built the way Todd wanted to drive it.
Pontiac understood that torque is what makes a car feel fast. The mostly stock 400 is only rated at about 325 HP but 410 pounds of torque move it down the road quite well.
Todd spent some time considering the final color choice for his GTO. He didn’t at all care for the light blue that was the original color indicated on the cowl tag but he also wasn’t a fan of black as he lives on a gravel road and it is just so much work to keep black looking clean. Looking for something in between, MCR helped him settle on Fathom Blue Poly; beautiful, darker, but not black.
It’s been nearly 40 years since Todd’s dad last drove this GTO. It was kind of like being reunited with an old childhood friend.