First Car by John Cola, one of our Muscle Car Fan members
True Muscle Car Fan Stories: Crashing The Goat
In July of 79, before the start of my senior year at Bloomington Lincoln High School, I decided I wanted something with some muscle under the hood. I sold my Satellite for 1000 bucks and started shopping. I nearly bought my neighbor’s 70 GTO, but I didn’t like it because it had air conditioning, which impedes performance. In the Minneapolis Star Tribune classified’s I found a 69 GTO, 400, 4 speed for sale in St.Paul for $1200.
Pretty much in original condition.I Rebuilt engine and it had a black vinyl interior with air shocks, stock Pontiac sport style rim’s, and a teeny tiny chrome steering wheel with a sponge rubber grip.
It had a manual transmission and my friend Curt had to teach me how to drive it. He gave me a quick lesson in front of the seller’s house, and it was time to drive back to Bloomington. I was both euphoric finally having a performance car and nervous as hell driving home on the freeway, not sure if I was in 2nd gear or 4th gear.
At school, I immediately propelled up the status ladder when I proudly parked in “performance row” in “The Goat.” That Summer and into the fall was the time of my life.Drag racing (usually smoking new Trans Ams) drive-in’s, and cruising the downtown area of another suburb, Hopkins. I got a girlfriend, and of we initiated the backseat of The Goat while watching Let it Be at the Mann France Avenue Drive in.
On our first date, I took her to downtown Minneapolis. As I exited 35w into downtown, my clutch went out and we had to limp into a hotel parking lot. After spending the day downtown with Tammy, I called my brother-in-law Larry who hooked up a tow chain and pulled me all the way back home to Bloomington with his 65 Ford Van. Cost me around 250 bucks to have Andy and George’s garage replace the clutch. One day after school I was displaying some excess acceleration when I blew my timing gears and a motor mount. Tried to replace them myself couldn’t loosen the damper pulley, so I had a friend push me to the neighborhood standard station where they finished the job. Considering I was working for a janitorial service cleaning offices part-time at night, and paying for gas and insurance, these repairs took a hit on my pocketbook and my plans to customize my wheels were put on hold, although I did buy some keystone classics. One night driving home from Hopkins I decided to see how fast I could go. I hit 120, as fast as the speedometer would go. My friend Jeff was in the shotgun seat and was begging me to slow down.
One day, after school in January of 1980, my friend Scott confronted me as I walked to The Goat in performance row and challenged me to race him in his 66 Fairlane GT 390. He had challenged me before but I felt it was a waste of my time. But this time I agreed, but only if he let my friend Curt drive. He agreed to cede the driver’s seat to Curt. Doug Barringer was riding with me. We headed east on 86th Street with me in the left lane and Curt in the right.
After crossing the 35w bridge, we floored it. I jumped out to the lead and maintained a half car lead as we approached Lyndale Avenue. The light was red, and as I hit the brakes, Curt hit some ice, and the Fairlane slewed to the left and hit me between the passenger door and the back wheel.
Although I was able to maintain control and fought the fishtail, I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the Fairlane doing a 360 in the middle of 86th. I eventually stopped at the light with Doug, in the shotgun seat panicking and yelling “Curt and Scott are dead!” Or some such foolishness. He was trying to get his door open but it was wedged shut from the crash. As we waited an eternity for the light to change, I looked back and saw the Fairlane wrapped around a utility pole half a block back. I saw no movement, just smoke. Finally the light changed and I parked in a nearby strip mall parking lot. Doug and I got out…I made a quick inspection of The Goat…rear quarter was creamed. Then we ran over to the Fairlane. The cops were already there, and much to our relief both Curt and Scott were out of the car and other than some cuts, they were alright. Their biggest injury came when they collided with each other when the bucket seats broke loose as they spun out. The cops never questioned me.Scott and Curt did not tell the cops who I was. Two nearby construction workers witnessed the crash and told the cops what they saw, but the police never talked to me. I drove home and told mom I had slid on ice and hit a pole. I never filed an insurance claim.
Many hours were spent cutting off the wrecked quarter panel and putting on the new one. Bondo, sandpaper, primer, and it was ready for paint. I had a neighbor put a new bright orange skin on it. The Goat never looked better. The Summer after graduation was glorious driving the Gran Turismo Omologatto with Tammy by by my sideBut alas, all good things come to an end. Gas was now a dollar a gallon, and Brown Institute of Broadcasting lay in the future. I sold the GTO for $1400 to a guy I knew who was about to be a senior at Lincoln. He worked at the drive up window at Zantigos, saw my For Sale sign when I drove up for Tacos, and had to have it. Four days later he totaled The Goat on 35w, driving like a douche and rear-ended someone and hadn’t bothered to transfer the title to his name, so, of course the night of the crash the cops called me and asked if the car had been stolen. Anyway, I bought a Mercury Capri that burned oil and my halcyon days of The GTO were over. I now have my eyes on a 2005 GTO…