’64 GTO owner loves car’s power, good looks and historical impact

Asking Larry Calmeyn to defend his affection for the 1964 Pontiac GTO is like asking a tiger to explain his attraction to red meat.

“I love the car for the same reasons the experts do: It was the first muscle car; it was a game changer,” Camelyn said. “Everybody has their opinion, but if you put it to a vote, the muscle car was born right there when (creator John) DeLorean and the gang took a ’64 Tempest Lemans and said, ‘Yeah, we can drop a 389 in there instead of the stock 326.’ The rest is history.”

In “Pontiac vs. Plymouth,” published in the Winter 2012 edition of Hagerty Classic Cars magazine, a panel of eight experts voted the 1964 GTO as the most historically significant car built by either company. Photos of Calmeyn’s beautifully restored ’64 GTO were featured in the story. The car didn’t always look that good, however.

Calmeyn, who lives in Brighton, Mich., credits his brother, Marty, for discovering his GTO in a barn in Ypsilanti, Mich., in 2008. The car had been sitting for years, and it had neither engine nor transmission.

“When I hauled it home, my wife said, ‘I hope you’re on your way to the junk yard,’ ” Calmeyn said with a laugh.

Calmeyn and his brother, along with Calmeyn’s sons, Steven and Shane, “got right after it with a total rotisserie restoration that took about 15 months.” Calmeyn said the foursome did all the body work, but they put the paint job and engine rebuild “in the hands of professionals.” The GTO is painted in its original color, Yorktown Blue Poly.

“My first restoration was a ’57 Chevy Bel Air,” Calmeyn said. “I’d been looking for something with a little more muscle, and I knew I wanted a ’64 GTO. It’s a ball to drive, and it’s an attention grabber. People want to talk about it.

“I like the look of the grill and the side-by-side headlights instead of vertical ones. Plus my wife, Donna, was born in ’64, so that was the clincher for me. Some guys are Mopar guys, but the A body is just classic. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Chevelle or a GTO, I like it.”

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