My Classic Car: Barnett’s barn-found 1967 Pontiac GTO

The road home from Colorado to San Diego in the barn-found GTO | Barrett Canfield photos
The road home from Colorado to San Diego in the barn-found GTO | Barrett Canfield photos

For the last few years, I’ve been spending evenings with my 11-year-old son, Rhodes, looking for interesting cars online that we could “Fly and buy” and have a fun road trip, and then a father son project to work on together.

The GTO in the barn
The GTO in the barn

While spreading the word of our intentions to my friends and fellow car loving people, one of my customers said these epic words to me one day:

”Hey, I have an old GTO in my barn!”

Being a lover of just about all classic cars, this was one of the most unbelievable comments that I have ever heard. I pried and pried and the truth was that he did not really want to sell that “GTO in the barn,” but was just making casual conversation regarding my search for a cool car for my son and I.

For the next six months, every time I saw this customer, who was becoming a good friend, I’d mention to him,”Hey, How’s my GTO?” He brushed my jovial comments off and changed the subject.

But one day, which was my final attempt of the “assumptive close,” I said, ”Still have the GTO?” and he responded with, “You know, I might sell it.”

The car was in a barn in a remote town in Colorado. I live in San Diego. I went to work striking a deal on this sight-unseen 1967 GTO with only the good word of my new friend and the blind ambition of that dream of a road trip with my only son.

My customer-friend sent me some dusty car pictures and I booked two one-way flights to Colorado with a truly risky plan, based on his word of the condition of the car, to fly in, fire her up and drive the 1,650 miles to San Diego with my son.

Now that I look back on it, this was a foolish risk, but I thought, “what the hell!”

No car is ever what you truly expect and upon arrival in Colorado, I felt that bottom of my stomach uncomfortable pain of “What have I done?” Should I just ship it to San Diego and get to work on a restoration? Am I putting my son at risk?

Rhodes and the GTO
Rhodes and the GTO

But looking into my son’s eager eyes, we fired her up, backed the Pontiac out of the barn and headed for the closest auto parts store for survival parts and fluids.

My son trusted me and wasn’t aware of the uncertain and uncomfortable feeling I had as, with a loaded trunk, we steered the 1967 GTO with a tired original (matching number) 400 and “His/Hers” transmission onto the highway and took the risk, mile by mile. Denver. Santa Fe. Albuquerque. Winslow. Phoenix. Yuma. San Diego.

We stopped often to check on the engine and to fuel up because of the thirsty 400. People came out of the woodwork with GTO stories and admiration of this classic muscle car. She made the 1,650 mile trip with only a small pin-hole leak in the radiator, but provided a memory for my son and I that we will never forget.

We even shot some video along the way.

The painting on the trunk lid
The painting on the trunk lid

There was a big surprise awaiting us in the trunk. That’s not quite my taste, but the mural is more than 30 years old and painted (and signed) by a popular hot rod painter named “Spider” from Colorado Springs. I’ve decided to keep the old trunk art because of all of the conversations that it starts.

The car is in Southern California with the plans of occasional Cars-N-Coffee appearances and will very likely be the coolest car at the local high school, once my son gets his license. Thank you to ClassicCars.com for all of the cool car stories. I hope you all enjoy this one.

— Barrett Canfield, San Diego

The '67 Pontiac GTO
The ’67 Pontiac GTO

6 thoughts on “My Classic Car: Barnett’s barn-found 1967 Pontiac GTO”

  1. Your son will never forget these times and neither will you. That’s what owning one of these cars is like. Every time I work on one of mine with my son and my nephew I have thoughts of my Dad. He loved cars and passed it down.

  2. In early 1968 I saw a freshly-washed ’67 GTO, still dripping water at a local Chevy dealer. They had just taken it in trade, and I bought it before the lot boy finished drying it off. I was only a high school junior, and that car was the thing of dreams for me. My mother let me buy it, by trading in my ’63 Dadge Dart and my ’68 Yamaha motorcycle, because she’d do anything to get me off of that motorcycle. I had some savings from summer jobs and winter work at the Cherry Hill Mall, and the burgundy beauty was mine in a few hours. I managed to stay alive, somehow, over the next few years, full of all-out stop light brawls and cross-country trips with my far too heavy foot buried in that 400ci muscle car. Nothing since has pushed me back so firmly against the driver’s seat, or caused quite the grin of power and speed combined to cross my face. Believe it or not, I still have dreams of that Goat from time to time, and I’d buy it again if I passed it just fresh from a car wash, dripping water down that burgundy body and over those beautiful chrome panels along the running boards.

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