“Boss Man” is the only surviving 428 Royal Bobcat GTO

RJ61 Boss Man GTO Photo 05 burnout

This special Pontiac was sold through the legendary Royal Pontiac performance dealership owned by Ace Wilson in Royal Oak, Mich. Mike Rutherford, the car’s original owner, was a close friend of Pontiac drag racing hero Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick. Rutherford wanted a car that would give him the ultimate in Pontiac street performance. Beswick recommended a Royal Bobcat 428 GTO.

This car was ordered from the factory as a Ram Air GTO in September 1967. It was delivered to Royal Pontiac that November. Before delivery, the GTO was immediately fitted with its Bobcat 428 HO engine. Popular Hot Rodding magazine documented the installation as one of the first of a newly restyled 1968 GTOS to receive the “Royal Treatment.”

This Royal Bobcat was even featured on the March 1968 issue of Popular Hot Rodding in a photo that included Milt Shornack and Dave Warren, who worked at Royal Pontiac. In addition to swapping engines, Rutherford had the Royal Pontiac crew install a set of free-flowing exhaust headers, a racing scattershield and tow bar tabs so he could pull the car to the drag strip. In the long run, this car was the first of six or eight cars to get the 429 Bobcat kit. It is the only known, fully-documented survivor with the Royal conversion.

“It’s best not to be around when the GTO comes calling,” Popular Hot Rodding warned drag racers about the Royal Bobcat 428 GTO. Rutherford dubbed his car the Boss Man. After the car was used for a brief time for drag strip and street racing, Rutherford relocated to Arizona and put the GTO in mothballs for 28 years.

In 1999, the car was sold to a new owner and transported to Illinois. It has been restored to its 1968 new car look with racing graphics in place. The car had just over 7,900 miles on its odometer when it was displayed at the Muscle Car & Corvette Nationals (www.mcacn.com) in Rosemont, Ill. and photographed by Racing Junk.

About John Gunnell 117 Articles
John “Gunner” Gunnell has been writing about cars since ‘72. As a kid in Staten Island, N.Y., he played with a tin Marx “Service Garage” loaded with toy vehicles, his favorite being a Hubley hot rod. In 2010, he opened Gunner’s Great Garage, in Manawa, Wis., a shop that helps enthusiasts restore cars. To no one’s surprise, he decorated 3G’s with tin gas stations and car toys. Gunner started writing for two car club magazines. In 1978, publisher Chet Krause hired him at Old Cars Weekly, where he worked from 1978-2008. Hot rodding legend LeRoi “Tex” Smith was his boss for a while. Gunner had no formal journalism training, but working at a weekly quickly taught him the trade. Over three decades, he’s met famous collectors, penned thousands of articles and written over 85 books. He lives in Iola, Wis., with his nine old cars, three trucks and seven motorcycles.

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