Tuesday, February 25, 2014



We all gotta start somewhere. This initial test drive appears a bit shaky, but it all worked out magnificently. Hard to believe this was fifty years ago. (Photo by Bunkie Knudson)

Nation, you know we at SGE are all about the obedient observance of every holiday on our parts store calendar. Any excuse for a party. Just last week, I celebrated Presidents Day by throwing a package at the locked door of my local Post Office, after hand carrying it ten blocks through driving rain (The following day, I sent it the cheapest way possible, but it still set me back $178.98 after paying for repairs to the glass door). You also know that our unabashed Pontiac bias knows no bounds. So this week we're pulling out all the stops on this house organ to salute the most important milestone in our nation's storied automotive history: The Fiftieth Birthday of the Pontiac Grand Tourismo Omoligato. GTO is the official acronym, but most refer to it affectionately as The Goat.

As lifelong Poncho aficionados, Motormouth Ray and I have both been anticipating this party for months. What to wear? But technically, this is only the pre-party, and just one of many. The biggest blowout will be in Carlisle, Pennsylvania at the GM Nationals, June 20 - 22. We hope to see you there!

Last week, Ray sent me Mike McNessor's excellent commemorative piece from the Hemmings Blog, which we happily share highlights of, here. For enough details to claim membership in the tribe, hit this link:   http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2014/02/18/gm-nationals-to-celebrate-gtos-50th-whttp://-bill-collins-and-milt-schornack/

Milt Schornack managed Ace Wilson's Royal Pontiac skunkworks in Detroit when the GTO was introduced in 1964. Milt was Pontiac's (very unofficial) test driver - tuning Goats by day at Royal, then testing them against Woodward Avenue's best, all night long. He's shown here with his '67 Royal tribute Goat in 2007. (Photo by George Mattar)

Schornack put the Royal "Bobcat" tune on countless street cars, but Royal was also deeply involved in legit motorsports. They built these stereo Goats that were flat towed in tandem to numerous match races, with the "Mystery Tiger" (barely visible here, in tiger suit) racing one GTO and a lucky fan from the stands bangshifting the other. That scenario wouldn't even fly today, but made for great entertainment (and promotion) in '66. (Photo courtesy of Milt Schornack)

The star of the show: Three hundred and eighty nine inches of rompin' stompin' Warrior power. My brother Rocky and I used to find these Injun engines in full-sized '59 and later Pontiacs and transplant them into stripped-down mid-50s two door sedans. We only did that because we were too lazy/stoopid then to build full chassis for the expired Tempest carcasses we found laying around. Opportunity lost. The 348 horse tri-power option (shown) was the scourge of Your Street, USA. (Photographer unknown)

The GTO could've been named the De Bee Gee Jay, after Chief Engineer John DeLorean, Chassis Engineer Bill Collins, Drivetrain Engineer Russell Gee, and Pontiac Promotion Whiz Jim Wangers - who teamed to develop the basic concept. The Fab Four put Pontiac at the top of the horsepower heap, while kicking the rest of Detroit completely off of the performance map. DeLorean went on to success with Chevy and other brands before launching his Delorean cars (shown with wife Kristina) and yet another career in the promising pharmaceutical field. "How fast do you want to go?" (Photographer unknown)

Schornack's son Jim carries the Royal torch today. His '69 Goat packs an uber-rare Ram Air V engine, developed for Pontiac's racing program with tunnel-port heads boasting monster valves and relatively tiny combustion chambers. Jim says it doesn't make any power below 4,000 RPM, but comes alive at six grand and slaps a torque smile on his face that can only be removed by flashing red lights. Party on, Jim!  Will the RAV be at Carlisle??? (Photo courtesy of Milt Schornack)


So it was half a century ago that we left our noseprints on the local Pontiac dealership's windows. Amazing. Let's celebrate! Have a slice of cake and enjoy some of the Goat imagery we've been collecting. Four generations worth...

Fifty years later, our now sure-footed Birthday Boy packs a Yoda-like kick of high octane savvy. (Photo by Arnie Beswick)



Loved by millions around the world for his twice-weekly wisecrack fests with sparring partner Chris Switzer on Motor Mouth Radio (www.motormouthradio.com), and feared by every film director since Hal Needham's heyday, our own Motormouth Ray blows the whistle on a cadre of lazy directors who assumed they could pull a fast one on the gearhead public. You may be hip to some of these scenarios, while others will be news to you, as they were to us. Hit it, Ray:

The first pick on my list is from a recent movie titled “2 Guns”, where the Mark Wahlberg character drives a cool black-primered ’70 Challenger that an internet site claims to be a ’74 model made to look like a ’70. Why they’d do that, I have no clue, as this wasn’t a period-1970-correct movie. Anyway, the car is sporting a nice set of Magnum 500 rims, the right body stance, a Power Bulge hood, and a decent exhaust note. A pair of Pep Boys plastic racing mirrors aren’t nearly as bad as the hideously large chrome door handles stuck to the doors. Again, why?  

     Seeing the venerable E-Body from 2-Guns defiled in a way I can’t comprehend, I immediately remembered another movie where a Challenger was modified in a most obvious way. In the 2007 release from one of my all time favorite writer/directors, Quentin Tarantino, the movie Death Proof features another 1970 Challenger that’s used to pull off an on-hood stunt called the “Ships Mast”. To make the stunt work, the person on the hood of the speeding car needs to hold onto straps (or belts in this case) that have been fastened to the window frames of the car doors. Well, we know that all Challengers have frameless door glass, so seeing the chrome moldings on this car raised a glaring red flag to this car guy. But I can actually understand why they did it: You should watch stuntwoman Zoe Bell perform the scene yourself to see exactly what I mean - you’ll never view hood surfing quite the same way after you do. The big goof here is that when the car is first seen, its doors are frameless, but when it’s shown out on the road seconds later, the frames are on the doors, indicating that they’ve switched from star car to stunt car. Let the surfing begin!   

The next movie mix-up is a perfect segue from Death Proof, because as mentioned in that movie, the girls were looking for a Vanishing Point Challenger to perform the Ships Mast stunt on. Obviously, the next car goof of note is the final scene of the iconic aforementioned flick, Vanishing Point, where we see Kowalski’s 1970 Alpine White Challenger self destruct after plowing into two bulldozers at full ramming speed…..or do we? Of course we don’t. What we DO see is a ’67 Camaro, doctored to look like the Challenger. I’m guessing that Dodge wanted their cars back intact and six cylinder Camaros were a lot cheaper to procure. Even with silver painted steel rims and door glass vent windows, the scene happens so fast you’d need to have a sharp eye to catch the goof, or a DVD player in 1971 to stop the action cold. I caught on when I saw the underside view of the Camaro - it had single exhaust and no torsion bars!  

Switching genre’s to the small screen... Even as a much younger car guy, I immediately saw the glaring inconsistency when one of my favorite shows had their lead character buy a car that was just "a little off”. In season two, episode #205 of the popular TV show CHiPs (which aired on Oct. 14, 1978), Officer Frank “Ponch” Poncherello answers a call where he finds that a man has poured gas over his car and lit it on fire. The car is a Bronze 1970 Firebird Formula that has the beautiful Pontiac dual snorkel Formula hood (my favorite), but with an added Trans Am Shaker installed. Woof!! You can also clearly see that the car has been coated in Zel-Jel fireproofing material to protect the paint, but they let it burn for the cameras so the director got his footage. I’m guessing that it was cheaper to buy Erik Estrada more Qiana shirts than it was to stock up on IIRC hoods and the accompanying bodywork needed to modify the fleet of Firebirds they wrecked. 

This car goes on to be rebuilt by Ponch and wrecked a few times through the show series, and was actually a pretty cool creation from the Korky Kustom studios, who built it for MGM. The IIRC hood, molded wheel flares, and molded in sidepipes tattoo this ride for immediate identification in a 1978 car movie where it hid in plain sight. Fun factoid: Ponch’s partner in the show, Officer Jon Baker, used call sign “7 Mary 3”. This name was used by an early 90’s band from Virginia. Now that’s a tribute for you! 

Astute car eyes noticed that the sinister black Firebird driven by the bad guy in 1978’s Corvette Summer was the same car used in CHiPs. As stated earlier, that IIRC hood treatment and molded in body parts gave it up faster than Chris Darland’s Gasser can holeshot an opponent in a street race. The rest of Corvette Summer is a bust (to me), with the whole damn Corvette being an abomination and a waste of good fiberglass. The Firebird is a cool villain car in ANY movie, in my opinion (do you think I’m a diehard Poncho lover?) 

Saving the best for last, and proving that I’m more than a Pontiac-aholic, we’ll visit what I consider probably the best biopic of the street racing genre EVER made (Chris Darland be damned!), the 1971 flick, Two Lane Blacktop. I find absolutely no discrepancy in this movie at all, and how can you, when a director like Monte Hellman uses cars built by Richard Ruth to such realistic specifications. Ruth built three cars: The star car used a 427 BBC with a dual quad high rise tunnel ram backed by a Muncie “Rock Crusher” M-22 4-speed trans. and a 4.88:1 cogged Olds rear end. This stuff was exactly what we were cramming into our own street racers back in the day, but I have to question Ruth’s choice of vacuum secondary carbs that both had thermal chokes installed. 

The other two cars had 454 BBC’s installed with single 4-barrel intakes. Fun factoids: As this shot shows, one of the 454 equipped cars was decked out with a fake carburetor made to be visible under the sheet metal hood scoop when the camera shot through the windshield. This car also has A/C installed, no doubt to keep the musical duo of James Taylor & Dennis Wilson comfortable in the otherwise stark interior. 

The movie was another media hit with a following, as rock bands in San Francisco and New Zealand took the name “Two Lane Blacktop”, with the Aussie band crediting the movie as their inspiration in 2001. 

Movie & TV cars have always been shared and repurposed, but the most notable example of this has to be when the Two Lane Blacktop car was spiffed up, painted, and used in the 1973 blockbuster car movie, American Graffiti. The goof in this movie comes when Falfa goes off road and flips the ’55, exposing different rims and a single exhaust. 

Whether you were a John Milner fan or you rooted for underdog Bob Falfa, the final race scene in the movie had to make your gears grind and your balls leave the premises. There are scores of websites dedicated to these cars and their history, and I have to go on record as saying I’m thankful that men like Hellman and Lucas had the vision to use such perfect examples of American Iron in their movies….now let’s go out and find a street race!! 




Local racer and transmission wizard Dave Hix' Fiat Topolino Altered has been the talk of the town for months. Crewmember Ronnie Mankins alerted the SGE office to the initial fire-up last Sunday and covered the sacred moment for us. Previously seen only in sinister black gel coat, the Topo now sports a somewhat friendlier acetylene flame blue coating. Lettering to come...

The focal point of the Italian mouse has to be the injection sprouting from Arias Hemi heads on a Chevy Rat block. Go-fast jewelry for the naturally aspirated set. But rumors of an imminent roots blower refuse to quell. Stay tuned...

Moments before the big moment. A 92% load of nitro was poured into the tank and the mag was lit with fellow blue Topo pilot Frank Miller ("Beeline Express") in the chair. No drama was reported. Can you dig the snarky front axle? Chassis was fabbed at Bill Comstock's shop.

An office with a view is still a coveted reward of the American dream. And the view from here is about to get a lot prettier...

... as Hix and his Sidekicks are heading to the March Meet in a few days. Miller will drive until Ronnie gets a chance to re-license. Congrats to all involved in this winter thrash. They persevered and should have the final details (windows, brakes and tin) dialed-in by race day. Whew! (Photos by Ronnie Mankins)



Sure, it looks tragic, but don't worry - the car is fine. Kristin's just tearing out the old drivetrain here. She bought the '53 with an expired 289 Stude in it, which Kristin swapped for a gnarly 383 smallblock Chevy and TH400. 

This setup served daily driver duty for several years, but Kristen drives it hard and decided to pull it out for a Krylon rebuild, while she finesses a 331 Caddy together for future use. This car gal has no problem with the too-much-cam, too-much-carb combination. 

Runs rich, like a hot rod. Hone, rings and valve seals can't hurt this situation any.

The stroked SBC has been loyal and faithful, but will be even more dedicated after some spa time.

It looks happier already with some simple clean-up. Hopefully, the zippy wheel treatment wasn't heavy enough to cause trouble on the deck surface. Why Kristen didn't tear down the shortblock before cleaning is a mystery at press time - but maybe she knows something we don't? More will be revealed as the build progresses.

Kristin gold plated the Chevy to acclimate the car and herself to the imminent Caddy torque monster. 

Kristen and Lori Bentley Law swap in a 700-R4 at Gene Winfield's shop after cooking the old TH400 en route.

Yes, she's the real deal. But Kristen insists on styling, even in the midst of a down and dirty thrash. The carrot on her stick is the local Girls in the Garage car show, coming up on March 15th.

Hopefully, our next update from Kristen will include driving shots and road test results - and progress on that Cadillac engine build! (Photos courtesy of Kristen Kline)



The Scotty Gosson Combo CDs are finally about ready for manufacturing. In anticipation of an onslaught of interest, we've set up our own Facebook page, where details of the project are available, along with free samples of the music (we'll post a few new songs every Monday). Please "Like" us at: https://www.facebook.com/scottygossoncombo for updates. Apparently, the more "Likes" we get, the more kids we can send to band camp, or something. 



The Show Rod book I did for CarTech has proven to be pretty popular, after all. Sales are nudging 5,000 units now, which I'm told is pretty good for this market. If you haven't snagged yours yet, you better get on it before they run out. This once-in-a-lifetime paper car show is available 24/7 at: http://www.cartechbooks.com/america-s-wildest-show-rods-of-the-1960s-and-1970s.html
Also at: http://www.amazon.com/Americas-Wildest-1960s-1970s-CarTech/dp/1613250363.  



Meanwhile, sales of Racing to America (the first release from Gosson Bros. Racing Library) remain brisk as well, and the reviews have all been very positive. My condolences to the trees sacrificed in the name of spreading the International racing gospel. Everyone in the book says it's worth it though. Find out for yourself at: https://www.createspace.com/4338903. 
Also available at: http://www.amazon.com/Racing-America-Global-American-Motorsport/dp/1490539778
Also available on Kindle, whatever that is.



The most common human fantasy since the Adam and Eve days: Slay R2D2 with a baby blue light saber while a squirrel rides his ass to distract him. The dream may be universal, but the reality: Only in America!                      

The 428 Kid in Tennessee found this late 40s/early 50s Craftsman combo, complete with military discharge papers inside from 1944. 

Squirrel and Toolbox fans: Brace yourselves for next week. You won't believe your eyes!