orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

Local News

July 9, 2014

Local man celebrates 50th anniversary of GTO with car show victory

ORANGE — A life-long passion for automobiles has helped one local man claim the title of champion at a recent national automotive convention.

Ambrose Claybar of Orange, along with his wife, Cindy, traveled to Monroeville, Penn. for the annual GTO Association of America (GTOAA) International Convention this past week, where he won “Best of Show” with his white 1964 Pontiac GTO.

The victory was extra-sweet for Claybar because this year happens to be the 50th Anniversary of the famous American-made muscle car.

“I was very surprised when they announced my car had won ‘Best of Show’,” Claybar said. “It’s hard for a hard-top car to beat those convertibles and the Ram Air IV’s (engines).”

The GTOAA International Convention was held from Tuesday, July 1 through Saturday, July 5 in Monroeville, Penn. and hosted by the Greater Pittsburgh GTO Club. The mission of the GTO Association of America is to preserve and promote the Pontiac GTO and offer enthusiasts opportunities to share their common interest, according to its official website. This is done by promoting and publicizing the GTO Association of America, its chapters and members.

Claybar has attended the yearly convention, now in its 35th year, on an annual basis for more than a decade.

“I go every year, whether I have a car entered into the competition or not,” he added. “It’s  always a lot of fun and there are some amazing cars.”

This year’s “Best of Show” victory is not Claybar’s first. He won his first “Best of Show” title in 2007 with a 1965 Pontiac GTO.

“I bought that car back in 2001 and it took several years to get it ready,” he explained. “My friend, Jim Mott of Kimberly, Idaho, restored that car for me. He has restored cars for over 20 years, and he did this one too.

“We took our time with this one because we thought it would be nice to take the ’64 to this convention because we knew it was the 50th anniversary,” Claybar continued. “Jim and I laughed and cut up about how funny it would be if we won because it was the anniversary, but, honestly, we never really thought we would win.”

Approximately 75 GTO’s and GT-37s entered into the Concours classification, which was opened to models from 1964 to 1974. This included Tempests, LeMans and Venturas which promoted a GTO image.

Cars participating in the contest were required to provide documentation from Pontiac Historical Services indicating the vehicle is an authentic GTO, Judge or GT-37.

“The judges really go all out when they look at your vehicle,” Claybar said. “It is an 8 to 12 man judging team and they look at everything. They go all over that car and even use a flashlight to look under the dash and underneath the car.”

Claybar said he only had 11 points deducted from his winning score, and these deductions included categories such as paint and interior among others.

“We beat a lot of cars that have competed in previous years, so they already knew what they needed to work on to get ready for this contest,” he said. “I’ve loved cars all of my life, and my loves are GTOs and Corvettes. If you want to have a top-knotch vehicle, then you can’t go backwards and say ‘no’ on certain things when it comes to restoring it. You have to do what it takes to get it done right. I couldn’t believe we beat a lot of those high end, expensive models, but we did. And I couldn’t be happier.”

 

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