Car Enthusiast’s Ultimate Dream: 66′ Pontiac GTO Finally Becomes Reality After 50 Years

Certain childhood memories remain etched in our minds with remarkable clarity, even after years or decades have passed. When those memories involve muscle cars, they become unforgettable moments for automobile enthusiasts. Such is the story of Gary Udany, a now 66-year-old man, happily married and the proud owner of his dream car—a ’66 Pontiac GTO. Mr. Udany’s love for this vehicle is genuine and unwavering, rooted in a childhood experience that took place in 1966.

That year marked a significant milestone for the automotive industry in Detroit. Chrysler unleashed the Charger with its legendary HEMI engine, GM introduced the Camaro (for the ’67 model year), and Pontiac elevated the GTO to a standalone model.

For a ten-year-old boy from Chicago, Illinois named Gary, this was a transformative moment. His father, Jack, decided it was time to purchase the family’s first brand-new car, solidifying the father-son bond during their trip to the Pontiac dealership. The showroom floor showcased the newly launched GTO model, and young Gary was immediately captivated by the stunning Barrier Blue sports coupe hardtop. One might expect this story to end happily with the Udany family driving home in the muscle-bound Pontiac. However, reality often has different plans, and practicality prevailed that day as Jack Udany opted for a Catalina, needing a larger car with a more spacious trunk. The GTO remained at the dealership but forever resided in Gary’s heart.

Fast forward five decades to 2016 when Gary Udany, now 60 years old, received a life-changing call from friends who owned a classic car restoration business. They had a matching-numbers 1966 Pontiac GTO hardtop in their shop, uncertain if the owner intended to reclaim it. In that moment, Gary’s world shifted. He unequivocally declared, “If it’s ever for sale, I want it.” The car eventually came into his possession, fulfilling a fifty-year-long wait and transforming a ten-year-old boy’s dream into a tangible Pontiac masterpiece.

The comprehensive frame-off restoration showcased in the accompanying video unveils the magnificence of this first-year GTO model. Established in 1964 as a Le Mans package, the GTO became a symbol of General Motors’ performance prowess. In 1966, Pontiac introduced the GTO as a standalone muscle car, solidifying its reputation as a true automotive icon.

This particular GTO, resplendent in Pontiac, Michigan (where it was assembled) and gleaming in the sunlight, embodies the dreams of a devoted enthusiast. The powerful V8 engine performs flawlessly, channeling the spirit of its factory-fresh counterparts. The tires eagerly grip the road, accompanying the mighty engine’s roar. Any screeching heard during a spirited launch is simply part of the thrilling experience.

With its 360 horsepower and 425 lb-ft of torque, courtesy of the three double-barrel carburetors atop the small-block engine, this GTO exudes power and nostalgia. Interestingly, 1966 marked the GTO’s best-selling year, with nearly 97,000 units sold, and it remains the only year featuring louvered taillights. Whether it was this distinctive design element or some other captivating aspect that initially stole the heart of a young boy in ’66 is inconsequential. Today, the restored survivor and its proud owner embody the essence of a passionate automotive lifestyle.

One final touch adds even more depth to this heartwarming story. Mrs. Udany, Gary’s devoted wife, understood her husband’s relentless pursuit of the 1966 Pontiac GTO. Knowing that his automotive passion was incurable, she secretly saved $30,000 over a decade to contribute to the fulfillment of Gary’s lifelong dream. Together, they stand as a testament to the power of love, dedication, and the enduring bond between a car enthusiast and his dream machine.

Let us all rise and applaud the Udanys for their unwavering commitment. As for the ’66 Pontiac GTO, this remarkable story proves that sometimes dreams do come true. The car serves as a symbol of automotive excellence and a lifelong journey finally realized.


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