Having a significant other on board with your dream to own a classic machine makes the ride even more enjoyable.
For some, this shared love of automobiles comes naturally, while others require a bit more time to rev up. Jerry Bertram's wife falls in the latter category. It took Carol Ann Bertram about three decades to come around and see the cool in Jerry's Pontiac passions.
"For over 30 years, I've always loved the looks of the GTOs and wanted to have one myself," the Palatine resident said. "On the other hand, my wife has never liked them. Whenever we would see one pass by, it always happened to be a green or gold one -- colors that she doesn't care for. She would promptly utter, 'What an ugly car!' "
Apparently, all that was necessary for Carol Ann's GM love to blossom was a simple color change, melting away her long-held "Goat" repugnance.
While Bertram loved this black 1969 convertible (GTOs are commonly referred to as Goats), he was hesitant to show her prior to the purchase. "Surprisingly, she laid eyes on it and was hooked. Whenever you can get your wife to love a car you want to buy, that's the best kind of deal!"
Bertram bought his fully restored drop-top in the winter of 2011 right here in his home state. "The prior owner completed a full restoration five years earlier. In that time, they only put 410 miles on it."
In addition to its flawless appearance (and wife-pleasing color), Bertram was drawn to its unusual pedigree.
"It's one of 330 convertibles made in 1969 with a factory four speed and factory air conditioning," he said.
In spite of the low production numbers, Bertram insists the only way to enjoy his Detroit bruiser is keeping it in motion. "Like most older cars the more you drive them and work them in, the better they become," he said.
Underhood is the factory 400-cubic-inch V-8, rated at 350 horsepower. Stock four-wheel drums, hidden behind red line tires, bring the muscle machine to a halt. Other equipment on board are headrests, power steering and an AM radio.
"Driving the old cars is so different. You step on the gas and they just take off," Bertram said. "It's much more fun than any modern vehicle." Another sharp difference can be detected audibly.
"This GTO has fairly loud mufflers on it, which makes you feel all the more different from the guy next to you on the highway or on the other side of you. You really stand out."
The Bertrams are faithful in getting in their classic black beauty, firing up the engine and taking to the streets.
"It's really an excellent car -- everything inside and out is A1. Truly the best part is a wife who loves it and loves driving it."
While the Goat's AC makes for ultra-comfy cruising, Jerry rarely gets the opportunity to switch it on during the summer cruising season. "Even in the hot weather, I'd like to leave the top up and turn on the ice-cold air, but she insists on putting it down and letting the breeze blow in."