In late 1973 I bought a 1969 GTO. It had been painted a Corvette yellow that made it look like a plastic banana when it was polished up. It had a black vinyl roof and interior and it was sweet. We lived in Phoenix at the time; it was an Arizona car, pristine paint and not a speck of rust underneath, or anywhere else for that matter. The yellow Goat was a great performer. We took it on several trips to San Diego and other places; it always got 21 plus miles per gallon, even when crossing the desert in the daytime with the airconditioner blasting and cruising at 80 mph. It was a great car. At eighty miles per hour you could push the pedal to the floor and it would roar and push you back in your seat. We enjoyed that car a lot.
I have written a few stories about this car, about flying it over railroad tracks in the desert and such. It is the car that my Father-in-law repaired in one story, using some aircraft aluminum billet to fabricate a carburator part.
When we moved to California, we kept the Goat and sold the Nova and Corvair.
In October of 1977, I was reassigned to Germany. We discussed whether to take the Goat to Germany or sell it. We really didn't want to sell it but in our previous tour in Germany we had had to pay insurance (it is expensive over there) based on the horsepower rating of the car. We had had a '69 Plymouth that was rated at 100 horsepower and the insurance was almost too much for us to afford; the Goat was rated at over 350 horses. So we finally decided to sell it and buy a German car. It was a hard decision on several levels...the kids loved the car and were sad to leave it. MC loved the car; she had picked it out and loved to drive it; I loved the car and was sad to lose the opportunity to drive it on the autobahn (NO SPEED LIMITS!!!)...but I was still a buck sergeant and money was the decider.
I got to Stuttgart and started shopping. I found a 1968 Mercedes 250...a small-body sedan with a pretty potent six cylinder engine. I was mesmerized by the idea of owning a Mercedes and probably didn't pay as close attention to the car as I might have...but it was a Mercedes!
After a few months of driving it around, I came to some interesting conclusions.
First of all, in my '69 GTO, I could carry all four of my kids in the backseat with little difficulty (they were pretty small at the time) but the back seat of the Mercedes was not nearly so roomy and one kid would usually wind up standing behind MC's seat.
Driveability was interesting, too. My Goat was bigger, heavier, and one heck of a lot more powerful...but the Merc didn't get any better gas mileage. The Merc had independent suspension and disc brakes, looser springs, and tighter steering. It was fun to drive but was not as solid or as stable as the Goat was.
Performance was hands down to the Goat. The Goat was faster, quicker, and 'way more responsive. Remember what I said about the Goat responding from 80 mph? At 140 kilometers-per-hour (about 80 or so mph), if you pushed the pedal down on the Merc, it would very gradually increase its speed, topping out around 160 kph (100 mph). The Goat was good for more than 125 mph.
And the final insult was that the NATO insurance rates had changed in the seven years since our previous tour; we could have had the GTO in Germany for just slightly higher insurance rates.
So in the final analysis, my Goat was a better car in almost every comparison than the Merc...and if given the chance, I would take the money meant for a new Mercedes and use it to buy two new Pontiacs (I know, there are no new Ponchos...sigh...) and have two good cars and enough change to buy lunch at the South American Grill.