1965 Royal Pontiac GTO

1965 Pontiac GTO Hardtop

A few years back one of the top collectors from the San Francisco area told me he was checking out a 1965 Pontiac GTO that had a 421 ci V8 with a Tripower. He was convinced that the car was set up that way from back in the day. One of the places that was famous for replacing 389’s with 421’s was Royal Pontiac, the former Pontiac muscle car emporium in Royal Oak, Michigan near the Pontiac plant. He told us he thought he could get over $100,000 for the car if he could prove it came from Royal Pontiac.

But up till this week I had never run into a real deal 1965 Pontiac GTO Tripower that was actually from Royal Pontiac. Royal Pontiac is where a car was prepped for the famous Car And Driver magazine story that pitted a Ferrari GTO againt a 1965 Pontiac GTO. The Pontiac won in a quarter-mile runoff. The story was huge and made Car And Driver magazine a household name among car enthusiasts.  The dealership owned by Ace Wilson, Jr had folded after the muscle car era. Unfortunately a lot of the records had been lost. It is rare today to find a documented GTO from Royal Pontiac. But a GTO that had been sold at Royal Pontiac is the equivalent of a Dodge Challenger sold at Grand Spaulding Dodge in Chicago. The value goes up based on where the car was purchased. Royal Pontiac ran a huge performance parts department during the muscle car era and was known for their race team. They sold a kit called the Royal Bobcat Kit that would increase performance on a 389 Tripower.

This week an auction company in Ripon, Wisconsin asked me to come over and help to authenticate a pair of 1965 Pontiac GTO’s for a court ordered auction. What peaked my interest was their mention that these two GTO’s, one a black convertible and the other a white hardtop, had links to Royal Pontiac.

The white 1965 Pontiac GTO was definitely sold at Royal Pontiac, according to the reproduction window sticker obtained from the Pontiac Historical Society. It has mostly period equipment so the 421 ci Pontiac motor that rests in the engine compartment looks like it could have been swapped out at Royal Pontiac back in the day. The car has had a nice restoration and has survived pretty well. I rated it as a low No. 2 condition. Looks  like someone took very good care of this one. The undercarriage was so clean it had to have been stored most of its life to have remained in this kind of shape.

The car was purchased at the Mecum Auction in Indianapolis, Indiana in 2010. The Mecum Auction promotional materials talk about documentation that shows the motor was swapped out at Royal Pontiac. Here is where it gets interesting.  Mecum sold the white 1965 Pontiac GTO Hardtop for $42,500 in 2010.

The person who bought the white ’65 GTO at the Mecum Auction ran into some financial trouble and the pair of GTO’s were taken for resale at auction by court order. The debtor has not been cooperative in the sale. It is thought that he still has the documentation on the car. But only he knows for sure if the swap was done at Royal Pontiac. And he’s not talkin’.

Both the GTO’s are being sold by Auction Associates out of Ripon, Wisconsin. The high bid on the white hardtop seen here as of this printing is $25,700. You can register to place your bid online by going to the Auction Associates website: http://www.auctionassociatesinc.com

1965 Pontiac GTO Hardtop

1965 Pontiac GTO window sticker

1965 Pontiac GTO Hardtop

1965 Pontiac GTO 421 Tripower motor

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4 Responses to 1965 Royal Pontiac GTO

  1. Mary Carroll May 28, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

    I had a 1968 GTO> 4 foward,bored and stroked twice. Tomato Red,and I named her the Bitch. Because she got out there she did her thing.Love old school muscle cars.

  2. Bill Muller June 6, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

    I believe in the original sale at Mecum there was no REAL documentation at all except a paper saying that it came out of Royal Pontiac.Without an invoice it is just another GTO.

    • Classic Car Guru June 16, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

      The invoice is in the photo above. That came from PHS.

  3. Albert Ervin November 12, 2021 at 11:49 pm #

    My mothers friend husband had a 1965 Gto Royal 421 engine in his 65 GTO we lived in Dayton Ohio . at Wright Patterson Afb .His 65 Gto smoked every thing stock that got in his way.That was one car i will never forget a real street Killer GTO’.’

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