While General Motors may have discontinued the Pontiac brand in 2010, one Austintown man just can't let go of one specific model. Now retired from General Motors, Bill Cochran is the proud owner of his third Pontiac GTO.
"I've always had cars that would be considered collectible today," Cochran said.
When he first got his driver's license while attending East High School, he bought his first car, a 1964 Chevy Impala. He had the car for a brief time and let it go to purchase a 1964 Pontiac GTO. Like most young kids, the fascination with muscle cars meant selling and buying, and Bill soon found himself selling the GTO to buy a 1970 Dodge Challenger with a 340 cubic engine with the factory six-pack. Even his Mopar muscle saw a short life as he sold it to buy a 1965 GTO.
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Peggy and Bill Cochran of Austintown, said they enjoy cruising in their 1964 Pontiac GTO that takes Bill back to his childhood.
Cochran next fell in love and married Peggy in 1974. While he said his passion for cars never went away, he had to settle down and build a home and family.
He was employed at General Motors Lordstown as an electrician. As he neared retirement, his passions were rekindled when he found a restoration project on the computer in 2004.
"I saw a 1964 Pontiac GTO on Ebay," he said. "I made the trip to Akron to see it in person."
He said the car was undergoing a total restoration. The body had been restored and was just bolted on a bare frame. It had no engine, wiring, or chrome on it. The owner said he had 85 percent of the parts, including the engine, but it would have to be put back together.
The price was too high for Cochran and he made the fellow a lower offer. He refused and kept it on Ebay, but with no offers. After a short time, the owner called Cochran and agreed to the lower price.
"I made the offer and the guy took it," Cochran said.
He trailered the unfinished shell and the parts and motor back to his Austintown home where he started the restoration project. He worked on it for almost a year, buying the missing parts from Ebay to finish it.
Since his project completion, he has retired from General Motors and has been working a few days a week at the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center as a substitute teacher. Two years ago, his brothers Jack and Bud joined the Mahoning Valley Olde Car Club and they talked Cochran into joining as well. Both Cochran and his wife signed up and began hitting the weekly car cruises in his restored "Goat."
"Since joining the club, I have learned a lot about telling the difference in the older cars," he said. "You can learn a lot from the other members."
Both he and Peggy said they enjoy the comradery of other car enthusiasts who frequent the club's weekly cruise as well as their annual event scheduled for Aug. 5 at Boardman Park. Cochran said his finished GTO will be on display during the event and he is eager to see the wide range of vehicles that show up.
This is the 34th year that the MVOCC has held Cars in the Park. Cochran said he enjoys helping put it together because every year the club helps a young child in need. This year, proceeds from the show will go to three-year-old Mark Novello of Mineral Ridge who is suffering from a rare disease known as chromosomal 4 deletion. Proceeds will help with the family's high medical bills.
Cochran said he is looking forward to the show, but as to what project may lurk in his future, he had this to say, "I have no plans for another restoration project, but if the right opportunity came, I may consider another car, but it has to be the right one."
He didn't say if that opportunity would be another mid-sixties GTO, but once you have the fever, what do you do?