Mean machine

A striking black 1965 Pontiac GTO was the envy of many at the Road'ers Car Club's car show this month. So when it was announced as the club's Car of the Year for 2006, even some of the competitors believed it was the most deserving.

This beauty is the pride and joy of Rowland Hall, a lifetime Burbank resident and the car's original owner.

He's not a member of the Road'ers Car Club, but he likes to attend the car shows held every third Saturday of the month at the Hill Street Cafe in Burbank. He qualified for the club's Car of the Year show on Jan. 20 after receiving three other awards during the year — Best Under the Hood on Sept. 16, Eye Catcher on Aug. 19 and Best of Show on May 20.

"It was an honor and thrill to win it," Hall said. "I came close and got Best of Show two years ago, and my friend got Car of the Year. He had a 1934 Ford orange Tudor sedan."

What impressed the judges most about Hall's classic was that it was all original and maintained in near-perfect condition, said Bob Kurasz, club member and one of the judges.

"It's a black car and it's very straight — there are no waves in the body," Kurasz said. "The car appears to be stock, the way it left the factory. It's just like you were going to pick up a new car at the dealer. He drives it and takes really good care of it."

It was a really tough choice for different reasons, Kurasz said. There were five cars in contention.

"But one thing was that two of the people showing their cars in that same competition felt his car deserved it," he said.

Hall has completely reconditioned his GTO. It has a 360-horsepower engine and a four-speed transmission, he said.

"The only thing I didn't do was to pull the body off the frame," he said. "I rebuilt the original engine, and added new bearings, but I didn't take the four-speed transmission apart."

He had the outside painted the original black color and replaced the headliner.

Wherever he goes, the muscle car attracts a lot of attention, Hall said.

"It's striking looking," he said. "Shiny black and with the chrome, people look as they go by."

A trained machinist and mechanical engineer, Hall attended Los Angeles Trade Technical College and formerly worked at machine shops in Burbank.

He has a business installing plastic piping for plumbing and clients as far away as Aruba. He also restores parts for race cars and is one of only two people he knows who can restore hood hinges for cars from 1940 to the 1970s.


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