Home Car Stories One Owner 1969 PONTIAC GTO RA IV Packin' Poncho- Royce Fowler
1969 PONTIAC GTO RA IV Packin' Poncho- Royce Fowler PDF Print E-mail
Written by Double Dragon
Friday, 10 February 2017 21:46

1969 PONTIAC GTO RA IV Packin' Poncho- Royce Fowler


Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown

69 Pontiac GTO RA IV packin poncho royce fowler

In fall, 1968 Royce and Ellen Fowler ordered this 1969 GTO with high performance in mind. The order form below lists exciting options starting with the top production Pontiac engine available for 1969. The Ram Air IV 400 engine had a radical camshaft grind, round ports for better flow and was underrated at 370 horsepower. The torque monster 455 Pontiac engine became a legend in 1971 even with low compression once the RA IV parts were added to the block. Plain and simply the RA IV is a racing engine and Royce Fowler started his 1969 GTO order form from this pinnacle point.

Royce specified a close ratio 4 speed transmission running through a heavy duty Safe-T-Track 4.33:1 rear axle. The RA IV came with a mandatory 3.90:1 rear axle which is crazy enough for most people but clearly Royce wash shooting for ultimate performance in his GTO. Royce also ordered the Ride and Handling package, Polyglass Red Line tires, gauge package, and clutch fan.

Although set up with high performance options Royce's GTO wasn't ordered as a stripper. The option list is also swelled out with weight adding style and comfort oriented items such as console, door edge guards, concealed headlamps, head restraints, AM Radio, power steering, tinted glass, and clock.

69 Pontiac GTO RA IV packin poncho royce fowle order form

Royce had a list of things to check before picking up the car. Royce's Salesman, Tony highlighted the need to ensure everything was present and accounted for before the car was delivered. The GTO was ordered in Starlight Black paint with a Gold interior. The $4,490.00 final price was quite a hefty bill back in 1969. The amount due was reduced significantly with Royce's 1968 GTO trade-in which created a $3,201.73 credit against the 1969 GTO.

The Pontiac factory in Arlington, Texas got to work building this super hot GTO.

69 Pontiac GTO RA IV packin poncho royce fowle build sheet

The car was built in Arlington, Texas with the correct options installed. The build sheet lists items that coded as options that don't appear on Royce's initial order form. This is because these options were upgrades to the base Tempest body that came as part of the GTO option in a package. Items such as C24 Recessed Wipers, U27 Glove Box light and so on were part of the high end GTO package.

Marketing man Jim Wangers stated that there wasn't really much of a logical basis for buying a Pontiac instead of Chevy except for perception. The little extras provided concrete proof that your GTO had that extra quality and comfort implicit when buying Pontiac instead of Chevy, Ford or Plymouth. The aggregate tally of small extras created a justification to the higher price tag. The GTO presented a complete finished car without any shortcuts souring the impression. This was in addition to the high performance/ youth imagery built up at Pontiac during the 1960s.

69 Pontiac GTO RA IV packin poncho royce fowle invoice

Royce's Ram Air IV GTO arrived at Galen Boyer Inc April 3, 1969. Galen Boyer was a Pontiac Cadillac Jeep dealership at the time. See a story on Galen Boyer in the DEALERSHIPS section of this website filed under MISSOURI.

Royce's GTO soon had a custom built hood scoop replacing the twin snorkel scoops the factory used for the Ram Air system. The 14 inch stock wheels and factory bias ply tires were replaced with 15 inch chrome mags with racing tires. Mechanical work enhanced the performance of the GTO when it was taken racing.

69 Pontiac GTO RA IV packin poncho royce fowler racing

Here is a period picture of Royce being congratulated during his time racing the car. Below is a gallery of Royce's NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) membership cards ranging from 1972 to 1987.

69 Pontiac GTO RA IV packin poncho royce fowler NHRA cards

Note the business cards from Popular Hot Rodding magazine editor Lee Kelly, and Hot Rod magazine's associate editor C. J. Baker who talked to Royce about doing a story on his drag racing activities. The July, 1976 issue of Super Stock and Drag Illustrated magazine covered the Packin Poncho when it was competing in AHRA drag racing.

Below are some of Royce's membership cards from the AHRA (American Hot Rod Association) ranging from 1971 to 1976.

69 Pontiac GTO RA IV packin poncho royce fowler bus cards

The business cards from performance venders and engine builders include SLP Engineering, Heads by Brady, Mann Speed Specialties, C & S Specialty, and Fiberglass Racing Bodies.

Below are cards from Royce's sponsors: 1975-6 Quaker State Racing Support Program supported his efforts. From 1978 to 1979 Royce was part of the Valvoline National Sponsorship Program.

69 Pontiac GTO RA IV packin poncho royce fowler bus cd

Royce was a member of the KNIRA (Knob Noster International Racing Association) in 1975 and 1976 as seen in his membership cards above.

Below are some more performance vender/ engine builder business cards including Edelbrock, Holley, Hays, Crump Auto Parts, Performance International Corp, Bee-Line Engineering Inc, and Brock Racing Components Inc.

69 Pontiac GTO RA IV packin poncho royce fowler cards

Years after it had been retired from racing Royce brought his GTO to Level One Restoration Inc. in Arvada, Colorado. The car was complete, straight and in decent shape with some fading and chipped paint on the front Endura bumper.

The Gold interior is factory correct as the car was originally ordered except for the absence of the console. Royce had a complete car and thorough knowledge of how it appeared as a 'Day Two' racer which helped keep the details correct for this car. The car is in 'Day Two' racing condition right now with the weight adding console removed from the car.

69 Pontiac GTO RA IV packin poncho royce fowler int

The interior of the car is low option but the basic GTO interior was fairly sumptuous. GTOs came with a 3 spoke custom steering wheel, wood grain accents on the dash, full door panels with carpeting on the lower portion and full interior carpeting.

69 Pontiac GTO RA IV packin poncho royce fowler speedo

Another advantage aiding the restoration of Royce's Ram Air IV GTO comes compliments of this car's past racing history. The GTO accrued mileage mostly 1/4 mile at a time ensuring that total mileage is still very low at a mere 5,411.9 miles.

1969 PONTIAC GTO RA IV Packin' Poncho- Royce Fowler

Here is the heart of the matter, Pontiac's fantastic RA IV 400. Despite being considered a 'big block' the 400 was a ragged runner that revved like a small block. Note the 'Day Two' Moroso chrome valve covers and the manual steering.

The power steering pump installed during the factory build was removed when racing the car. Power steering adds weight and parasitic drain on the engine via the belt driven pump. At high revs some Pontiacs will 'throw' belts. Removing the power steering ensures one source of trouble is eliminated. Another issue with power steering is that the wheel gets too light at high speeds. The manual steering wheel is firmer with more road feel at high speeds.

1969 PONTIAC GTO RA IV Packin' Poncho- Royce Fowler battery

Royce's GTO has been restored back to 'Day Two' status when Royce originally set up his car for racing. In the trunk there is a custom built box to house the battery for better weight transfer to the rear wheels. This trick was commonly used in drag racing. The Oldsmobile 4-4-2 W-30 was set up this way from the factory. Pontiac didn't do this with the GTOs but it is an effective way to lower E.T.

When Royce decided to embark upon a restoration of the GTO he had an advantage over many projects because he knew the car from new as well as having logged very few miles on the car. Photos of the car before restoration show that the paint was flaking off the Endura front nose bumper and that the custom painted logos and lettering was faded from weathering.

1969 PONTIAC GTO RA IV Packin' Poncho- Royce Fowler tires

In keeping with a Day Two restoration this car has period correct fat drag large 9.00/9.50-15 series tires mounted on chrome 15 inch custom wheels.

The custom lettering on the car was reproduced exactly as it appeared back in the day by Speedway Graphics in Conifer, Colorado.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 12 May 2021 21:37 )