Book Reviewed By GEORGE PHILLIPS
NHRA SS/HA #6855
The original muscle car, the Royal Bobcat GTO was the baby of a burgeoning Detroit subculture, one not sanctioned by the big automakers of the early 1960s. In a post–World War II America hungry for chrome, flash and speed, Royal Pontiac in Royal Oak, Michigan, modified and sold its souped-up versions of GTOs to customers, and in the process created a demand for custom street racers in America. Founded by Ace Wilson, the Royal name became synonymous with speed.
This book outlines the history of the Royal Bobcat GTO, from the people—including Milt Schornack, the mechanic who raced for Royal Pontiac and was responsible for the custom Bobcats—to the fabled midnight test runs on northern Detroit’s famous Woodward Avenue. Fourteen chapters, illustrated with 25 photographs of vintage GTOs, the infamous Car & Driver road test photos against a Ferrari GTO, and more, chronicle the history of a car that changed the focus of the Detroit auto industry for the next decade.
The 1963 Royal offering was a Catalina. With many new aluminum front-end parts and a frame that was drilled and punched with hundreds of holes to save weight, it was dubbed the Swiss Cheese Catalina by automotive scribe Roger Huntington. The big Cat weighed in at just under 3,300 pounds-a savings of over 300 pounds from the previous year at 3, 600.
The increasing popularity of the GTO caught the attention of other manufacturers, who hooked their wagons to Pontiac’s rising star. Hurst created a wheel for the GTO, and Thom McCann marketed their “GTO shoes”
The super car movement was barely into first-gear, yet it’s impact on America’s youth was already beginning to have an effect on the Billboard charts. The musical tributes to cruising such as “I Get Around” and “Fun, Fun, Fun” by the Beach Boys topped the charts in the summer of ‘64. However, and perhaps of more significance to the Pontiac crowd, Ronny and the Daytonas biggest hit, “GTO,” spent a whopping 17 weeks on the pop music charts. (Chapter 3, page 35)
|Dave Warren drops a cylinder head onto thinner head gaskets during the bobcating process on John Kosmala’s 1965 389 GTO.|
|While Milt and Warren brothers found the Verdoro Green GTO hard to tame, it led to important engineering changes, which led to better performance and reliability of the 1968 version of the 400 engine. The unique exterior color still turns heads today.|
|If it’s supposed to be a 389 and it looks like a 389., there’s a chance it might not be a 389. The legendary ‘64 GTO was actually concealing a 421-cubic inch monster that was dressed-up to look like a GTO 389 engine.|
I enjoyed the book "Milt Schornack and the Royal Bobcat GTOs". This is a book for the real car guy. It tells the history of the GTO from 1964 to about 1971 and has all the real nuts and bolts of the cars, from Cam Spec to Gear Ratios, and all the factory stuff in between. This is a great read for an old gear head like me.
George Phillips, HotrodHotline.com
This book is published by McFarland & Company, Inc. and can be purchased online at www.mcfarlandpub.com
or call their order line at 800-253-2187