Custom Cruise Friday
One of the benefits of working at or even visiting Don Wheaton, is that you’re almost guaranteed to be within arm’s reach of a true automotive enthusiast. Nobody personifies that title more than Don Wheaton Used Car Manager Leo Hipkiss. In a previous Custom Cruise Friday post, we took a look at his 1999 Pontiac Trans Am that was modified to likely be one of the fastest cars in Edmonton. It appears a love for fast cars is pervasive in Hipkiss’ home. This week’s featured car is a 1968 Pontiac GTO that is owned by his wife Connie Pitruniak.
Pitruniak bought the car from her uncle whom was living in Vancouver. Her uncle had put GTO in storage for a number of years after purchasing a different vehicle. It was intended to be sold to someone outside of the family in 1982. The buyer even left a deposit, but strangely never picked up the car.
From there, it sadly became another surface on which to stack boxes. When Pitruniak’s uncle finally decided to sell the car to her, she and Hipkiss immediately flew up to Vancouver to pick it up. After some quick mechanical work, changing spark plugs and wires and putting some gas in the car, the engine turned over right away. However, there was a new problem is immediately realized. Nearly two consecutive decades sitting on the tires created what could generously be called some flat spots.
“We had a very interesting drive on square tires,” Hipkiss said. “We used three lanes of a two-lane road to get it to a tire shop.”
A new set of skins later, and the drive back to Edmonton was very easy by comparison.
When Pitruniak’s uncle ordered the 1968 GTO, it was the first year the car was offered with the Enduro bumper and came with 400 H.O. motor, a rarity for Canadian dealership at this time. Hipkiss estimates that his wife’s car is one of less than 20 models of Pontiac GTO with the high output engine. At the time, this particular version of the 1968 Pontiac GTO was the fastest car in the quarter-mile in Canada that could be purchased. A number of the original components remain in the GTO. The interior is all original as is the gear shifter and the occasionally-working 8-Track tape player.
In the years that the car has resided with Pitruniak and Hipkiss, a number of parts have been replaced including the cams, intake and carburetor to push the peak output of the car even higher. However, one of the most important upgrades that Hipkiss made was replacing the front drum brakes with discs.
“Drum brakes are great for stopping a car once,” Hipkiss said. “But not twice.”
Hipkiss enjoys working on it with his son Mackenzie. The pair enjoy adding to the performance of the car and look forward to the next modification.
“(Mackenzie) has some mechanical aptitude,” Hipkiss said. “He’ll be the next guy in line to drive it.”
If somebody has any ideas of trying to get in that line of succession, a price will have to be paid.
“I’ve been told I have to have a price,” Hipkiss said. “I have (a price), it’s $2 million.”
If you would like to have your vehicle profiled on a Custom Cruise Friday Blog, contact Don Wheaton Internet Manager, Melina Kaweck, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a few photos and some pertinent information.