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Fixer Upper GTO: Part 3, the Reveal.

It is all back together and drives like a dream, love this car!
It is all back together and drives like a dream, love this car!

After sourcing all the parts for our 2004 GTO Fixer Upper she was sent off to a local body shop to straighten and or replace damaged parts. This, including paint, came to a total of $2,400. Although the work was good and the price was fair we were a little disappointed in a couple of areas. When we got the “Goat” back none of the taillights/turn signals or brake lights were working. There were also issues with the front lights. I was extremely irritated that the shop gave a car back to a customer in this condition.

The new headlights are not factory but they are much cheaper and give out much more light. Plus they are more attractive.
The new headlights are not factory but they are much cheaper and give out much more light. Plus they are more attractive.

After pulling the light sockets out it became clear that in order to save a few pennies the crew at the body shop did not check or replace any light bulbs before installation of the lights. It would have been a minor task at that point but now it was a bit of a pain, especially with the taillights. I had to order one new socket for the front lights and all new bulbs. With this done everything has worked flawlessly ever since.

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The taillights are factory replacements from a junk yard. The cost was only $25 each.

With all the new body parts in place and the lights working it was time for a real road test of the car. I had previously driven the car around our 12 acre property and was impressed but taking it on the road was the beginning of a love affair. I have driven newer Corvettes as daily drivers for years and love them. This Fixer Upper GTO was about to replace my ZO6 as my current go to driver. What happened? I let my wife drive it to work one day and I never got it back! She absolutely loves it and at least once a week tells me how impressed she is with the car. If it keeps her this happy I am content to drive the ZO6!

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I am not wild about the grill and will likely replace it sometime in the future but it wasn’t expensive and meets the need for the current time.

One issue did rear up after I thought the car was done. There was a certain looseness in the drive train and a clunk under heavy acceleration. I assumed it was a worn out u-joint. After doing some research on 2994-2006 Pontiac GTOs it became clear that the two piece factory drive shaft was a week spot in the car’s design. Further study suggested that there really is not a good repair for the problem and the the best solution is a new one piece drive shaft.

I am a little old school and felt the car needed just a tad more flash so I chose a bright green double pin stripe for the side. I like it and such a minor thing really changed the personality of the car.
I am a little old school and felt the car needed just a tad more flash so I chose a bright green double pin stripe for the side. I like it and such a minor thing really changed the personality of the car.

These tend to be expensive but I will tell you it was money well spent. As much fun as the car was to drive before the replacement, the new experience was even better. The automatic transmission seemed like it was hooking up almost as good as a manual six speed. Even though it was a $625 expense I was happy I did it. One note to anyone facing the same issue is that you may have to make a couple of minor adjustments with the exhaust and bolts above the drive shaft. I had to trim a couple of bolts and also take the car to a muffler shop to spread the mufflers apart just a half inch or so to keep them from rubbing the new drive shaft.

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Richard

I grew up and lived in Iowa for nearly 40 years before moving to Southern California and now live in Tennessee. I have been into cars since I was old enough to remember. I don't have a brand loyalty although I do prefer American Muscle especially the 1969/1970 NASCAR Aero Cars. (Check our our www.TalladegaSpoilerRegistry.com page) As long as it has four wheels on it I get excited. Few men are lucky enough to be able to share their passion for cars with the woman they love. Fortunately, my wife Katriana is also a gear head and many of our activities revolve around the cars. We have a small collection that includes at least one car from each of the Big Three. Katrina prefers all original cars while I like to modify them so we have a few of each. When we aren't playing with cars we are out with our miniature donkeys. You can see more about that part of our lives at http://www.LegendaryFarms.com.

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