1970 Pontiac GTO - Graceland GTO

A transplanted LS3 revives a 1970s legend

D.J. Randall Jan 23, 2014 0 Comment(s)
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The King of rock and roll, Elvis Presley, lit Memphis on fire. He took the city by the notes, and fine-tuned his talented take on music into a legendary existence here. True believers swear the King still frequents his former homestead, spiritually taking shape in spooky, ghostly shadows. Nevertheless, he rocks out daily, ridding radio waves across the universe. Unfortunately, thanks to an enlarged heart, a myocardial infarction (heart attack), and perhaps, some questionable substances, the King’s life was cut short. He had only aged 42 years. Hindsight is 20/20, and since personal health is a sometimes a sliver of life insurance, maybe the legend would still be with us had he taken better care of himself.

As a fellow car fanatic, Elvis once said, “Ambition is a dream with a V-8 engine.” Such a blissful quote is the perfect transition into another fanatic’s outstanding determination. Andrew Borodin, also a Memphis inhabitant, begins our story sitting in his beautifully clad, Cardinal Red 1970 GTO. He’s provided a magnitude of info, so let’s get started. Here’s where the numbers get a little strange... Andrew, who was born in 1970, says, “Doing the math, you see that I lived the first 15 years of my life without [the GTO] and the subsequent 28 years with it.” Against his mother’s advice, and with the help of his grandmother, Andrew welcomed the Pontiac into his life at an early age, and it has been a consistent part of his life ever since. Currently, since it’s 2013 at the time of this writing, the GTO, and subsequently Andrew, are both 43-years old. That’s one year older than Elvis was, when he died. Similar to Elvis, the GTO has an enlarged heart - under the hood of course. You see, Andrew has taken spectacular care of his Cardinal Red Pontiac, and under that Ram AIr hood is a horsepower-pumping, 21st century aluminum mill. Its heart is an LS3. Paralleling the King’s V-8 quote, Andrew’s dream really does have a V-8 engine, a new one, and it is all thanks to his ambitious mindset. He was adamant to protect his Pontiac, while wanting to make it a true maintenance-free, and drivable, 43-year old ride. In fact, prior to the LS3, “The 400 Pontiac engine had been replaced by a 502-Chevrolet big block, with Holley aluminum heads, Holley EFI, and a healthy Lunati camshaft. It made 500 rear-wheel horsepower, and was backed up by a Richmond six-speed, which was state of the art the time” (1998). Andrew “wanted the car to have something unique about it, but [he] didn’t want it to clash with the look of the car. A shaker scoop is a fixture of Pontiac styling and function, and [he] wanted to incorporate it into [his] build.”

Andrew had successfully completed his first engine transplant, and by 2002, the then 32-year old GTO was healthy, refreshed with a Chevrolet 502 big-block. Thanks to Andrew’s rockin’ determination, a dream became reality, and his Pontiac continued to age well. With that being said, transplanting a fresh engine into an automobile can be equated to an organ transplant for a human. Think about it. If a 50-year old with a damaged organ is fortunate enough to inherit a 20-year-old’s organ, he or she is going to be revitalized, and hopefully, able to continue on through life. While the GTO’s original powerplant was not damaged, it was updated with EFI technology, and Andrew was ensuring that his GTO was modern enough to drive on a very frequent basis. However, frequent GTO outings eventually turned into next-to-nothing, as Andrew accepted a new job, and was forced to garage his Pontiac for longer than he would have liked. Just because he was thrown out of his routinely perfect preventative maintenance program, doesn’t mean that Andrew forgot about his GTO’s future and wellbeing.

1970 Pontiac GTO LS3 2/9

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