- The Washington Times - Friday, September 22, 2000

Pontiac built 81,722 GTO models in 1967. Of that number 7,029 were coupes and 9,517 were convertible coupes. However, numbering 65,176, the hardtop coupes were by far the most popular.
It was one of these hardtop coupes that was destined for Arnold Borsetti's garage. Having just completed his third year at Pennsylvania Military College now Widener University in Chester, Pa., young Mr. Borsetti was back home in Belmar, N.J., for the summer helping at his parents' store.
Students at his school were permitted to have a car only during their senior year. Since he was doing so admirably academically, his parents, said they would buy him an early graduation present a car of his choice, within reason.
Mr. Borsetti wasted no time in beginning his search. The parents drove a Buick and tried to steer the son in that direction. A number of cars were immediately ruled out as unsuitable for a college-age driver.
On Aug. 16, 1967, Mr. Borsetti first saw a Montego cream 1967 Pontiac GTO hardtop coupe with a black vinyl top in the showroom of Florian Pontiac in nearby Lakewood, N.J. It was just what he wanted, even down to the dual black pinstripes.
There was just one problem.
It was being purchased by someone else who was at that time arranging a loan.
The next day a salesman telephoned to inform Mr. Borsetti that the other buyer could not arrange financing for the car. Would he be interested?
He was at the dealership within the half-hour, signed the papers and even helped push the car out of the showroom.
The Pontiac GTO was prepped and gassed and Mr. Borsetti returned Aug. 18 to get his new car. The odometer indicated it had traveled nine miles. The base price was $2,935 for the 3,430-pound car.
He drove it back to school where the car survived his final year. After graduation he loaded his worldly possessions into the car and drove to Washington, where he entered Georgetown University's graduate school.
Mr. Borsetti's Pontiac pleased his parents since it came equipped with a two-barrel Rochester carburetor and an automatic transmission. The shift pattern of the floor-mounted transmission from the front is park reverse neutral drive second low. From neutral on back is a dogleg where the transmission can manually be held in first, second or third gear. "It's called a his and hers dual-gate Hurst shifter," Mr. Borsetti explains.
The all-black interior is highlighted by the sparing use of chrome, and the simulated wood-grain panel surrounding the instruments and in the gearshift console.
From the first day Mr. Borsetti always has treated the car well. By 1985, while still very presentable, it was still just an 18-year-old Pontiac with 133,000 miles on the clock.
Even in that condition Mr. Borsetti was often accosted with offers to buy his car. He decided to give his trusty old GTO a frame-off restoration even though as an associate operations director for the Food and Drug Administration he had no auto-restoration experience.
The restoration saga began in March 1985 when the car was rolled into Mr. Borsetti's Vienna garage and disassembly began.
The well-worn 6.5-liter V-8 engine and transmission were sent out to be overhauled and both chrome bumpers were replated. The remainder of the brightwork was either polished back to an original sheen or replaced.
When new, Mr. Borsetti's Pontiac rolled on steel wheels with hubcaps. He replaced them with authentic and available official Pontiac Rally I wheels with F70x14-inch bias-ply Firestone redline tires.
An indication of the care the car has received is the interior. "The interior is fundamentally original," he said. He did have a new black headliner installed as well as a new black carpet. Only lap belts were available in 1967.
In the center of the dashboard is the AM/FM radio with one front speaker and one in the rear.
A wooden, three-spoke steering wheel helps brighten the dark interior. A rally cluster has a tachometer that redlines at 5,000 rpm. However, with no rev-limiter, the driver can continue on up to 8,000 rpm or to when the engine blows, whichever comes first. The speedometer registers speeds up to 120 mph.
Eventually the rejuvenated 400-cubic-inch engine was returned ready once more to generate 360 horsepower, thanks in part to the new four-barrel Rochester Quadrajet carburetor. Of course, Mr. Borsetti reports gas consumption in the 12 mpg range if he takes it easy.
With his vehicle once more nestled in place with new wiring connected to all the correct places, Mr. Borsetti said, "It just purrs."
A new black vinyl top was installed and the final pieces of chrome were replaced in December 1991, six years and nine months of labor.
Mr. Borsetti was rewarded for the 81-month-long project when he took his car to face a rigorous inspection by Pontiac club members. At its conclusion, one of the judges told him, "That's one mean and clean street machine."
"The car runs smooth and clean between 65 and 70," Mr. Borsetti said.
In the nine years since restoration Mr. Borsetti says the absolute best moment occurred on the 30th anniversary of his graduation present. On that exact date he entered the car in a show at Rosehill in Frederick, winning best of show. As he collected his prize he uttered, "This one's for you, Julie and Pete," remembering his deceased parents.

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