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.