After sampling a 1971 Buick Skylark living the good life curbside earlier today, it is an appropriate time to take a sobering look at how the ravages of time have affected a nearby example of the Skylark’s more famous and desirable 1968-72 A-Body brother: a 1969 Pontiac GTO. Spotted only about only 10 blocks from where the Skylark was parked and only a few days later, this GTO is at a very different stage in its life cycle, but possibly only a temporary one before it rises again.
The 1968-72 GTO and Tempest-based imitators have each received coverage on this website already (GTO, Tempest), so we can address this particular car rather than delving into the history of the model first. This GTO was one of 58,126 “regular” GTO hardtop coupes produced in 1969, with The Judge accounting for 6,725 more — a sharp fall from the 77,704 coupes produced in 1968, and a preview of the plummeting sales numbers that would fall to 32,737 (plus 3,629 of The Judge) in 1970, 9,497 (plus 357 of The Judge) in 1971, and only 5,807 when downgraded to an option package for the LeMans in 1972.
When new it would been in a Burgundy color similar to that of the Buick LeSabre parked directly behind it, but this car’s 47 years have not been kind to it. Now it sits on the street next to a public park and across the street from an elementary school. I think that its main purpose at this point in its life is to inspire: thoughts ranging from “I wish that I could restore that …” to “Get that eyesore away from my kids!” in parents passing in their minivans and CUVs, and “Dinosaur car!” in kids playing nearby. Perhaps one of the children will be inspired to take an interest in classic cars from inprinting on this one at an early age.
People more knowledgeable about the GTO than I am may consider it debatable whether this car is a real one. The Endura front bumper and GTO badges looked newer and fresher than the car as a whole, which makes me a bit suspicious. Signs point toward this car being either a genuine GTO or a clone done so thoroughly that it might as well have been one, though: in addition to the Endura bumper and hood scoops, the car had an interior with buckets, console, and floor shift. The interior, which did not photograph well through the dirty windows, looked worn enough to match the rest of the car. So even if the car is a Tempest made to look like a GTO, it most likely was done long ago.
Faded, rusting, sagging, and on mismatched tires that may not have turned in a long time judging by the dirt that has accumulated around the curbside wheels, this GTO appears to be disappearing into the earth around it. A future restoration may arrest the entropy, however, as it is hard to imagine scrapping a GTO unless it has too much rust to save, which this car appears not to have.
The owner going to the trouble and expense of keeping it registered and on the street indicates that the car is just waiting for rejuvenation. The dragging tail is another possible sign, as it may be from the trunk being used as storage for parts for the car’s eventual restoration — not unlikely given the small size of the houses in the neighborhood. So I would not be surprised to see this old Goat eventually rumbling through the streets of Washington or sitting parked at this curb looking like new, a future Curbside Classic.