This largely original 1964 Pontiac GTO in Aquamarine and Parchment is expected to cross the block at the Mecum Indy sale, currently rescheduled for June 23-28.
Some automotive writers like to engage poetic license with the familiar term “muscle car.” They’re willing to speculate that perhaps the Oldsmobile Rocket 88 was the first muscle car. Or maybe the Rambler Rebel, the Buick Century, or the Stutz Bearcat. But not us. We’re strict constructionists on the matter. As far as we’re concerned, the muscle car era for real begins in 1964 and the first true muscle car, the one that started it all, was the Pontiac GTO. One like this, for instance: a distinctive Aquamarine and Parchment Coupe that is scheduled to cross the block at the Mecum Indy Auction on June 23-28.
Technically, the GTO was not a stand-alone model for ’64 but an optional equipment group that piggybacked on the sporty Le Mans. Three body styles were available: a two-door Hardtop, a Convertible, and a two-door post Coupe like this one. Depending on your point of view, the Coupe could be the most desirable of the three: With its sturdy B-pillar construction, it’s the lightest and the most rigid, and the least prone to wind and water leaks.
This particular GTO has an additional feature of interest to hardcore performance enthusiasts: It’s equipped with the Royal Bobcat package, a special dealer setup offered back in the day by Ace Wilson’s Royal Pontiac in Royal Oak, Michigan, just outside Detroit.
In the Royal Bobcat treatment, the 389 CID Pontiac Tri-Power engine, factory rated at 348 horsepower, was upfitted with thinner head gaskets to bump up the compression ratio, a more aggressive distributor advance curve, fatter carburetor jetting and mechanical-progressive carb linkage, blocked heat risers, poly-locks for the valvetrain, and other classic hot-rodding tricks.
Hard-wired to the division’s upper management through marketing wizard Jim Wangers, Royal was the go-to performance emporium for Pontiac enthusiasts in the muscle car era. Top mechanics in the Royal performance department included Milt Schornack, who raced the dealership’s Pontiacs on the drag strip when he wasn’t performing his trickery on customer cars.
On the outside, this GTO could be described as just a touch on the plain side with poverty hub caps and Coker redline tires, but in the cabin there’s plenty of ’60s Detroit flash with near-white Parchment (Code 219) upholstery, a full-length bright-metal console to house the four-speed shifter, and the classic GTO instrument panel with its familiar engine-turned look. In the authentic Day Two muscle-car manner, there’s a Sun electric tachometer clamped to the steering column and a three-dial accessory gauge panel attached to the bottom of the dash.
The factory-correct Aquamarine paint (Code P) is said to be a single repaint since new on a largely original car with just 14,900 miles showing on the odometer. This example is one of nine Pontiac GTOs from the personal collection of auction impresario Dana Mecum, billed as “Dana’s GTOs” and originally scheduled for sale at the annual Mecum Indy sale in May. Due to the COVID-19 emergency, the sale date has been pushed back to June 23-28 (and you’ll want to check for updates at Mecum.com).
Our preferred reference on American car pricing, Hagerty Insurance, currently values the 1964 GTO at all the way up to $119,000 for an example in #1 concours condition. But of course, the originality of this car and the Royal Bobcat package put a unique twist on the valuation. We’ll be interested to see what the auction market decides. -Photos by Mecum Auctions.
Article courtesy of Mac's Motor City Garage.