Jerome’s Al Goaté
Photos and words by Gero Lilleike
The 1960’s in the United States was undoubtedly marked with a distinct counter culture and brazen rebellion particularly amongst the youth in America. However, the 1960’s was also the decade of the muscle car, a direct result of the tumultuous culture of the time. The muscle car in many ways embodied the rebellious spirit of the 60’s that forever entrenched and solidified the muscle car within American culture. Born from the relentless desire for speed and power, the muscle car culture lives on in the present day, not only in America but across the globe.
Some 30 years ago, Tyrone Tozer, a young man living in the United States discovered his passionate love for muscle cars. Many years later in South Africa, Tyrone passed his passion on to his son, Jerome, who has embraced the thrill and beauty of building and driving his dream machine.
It was through his Dad that Jerome developed his passion for muscle cars. They shared the pleasure of re-building a 1971 Firebird and discovered the thrill of creating a unique street machine. 4 years ago, Jerome received a phone call from his Dad who had found a 1968 Pontiac GTO body for sale outside a sweet factory in Johannesburg.
The Pontiac GTO, also commonly known as ‘The Goat’, is revered by many as the most influential muscle car of the 60’s, not only because it set the trend at the time but also because it’s beastly sleek design was simply unparalleled. Tyrone asked Jerome if they should buy it. Of course Jerome said yes. It turned out that Jerome had a remarkable project on his hands.
Jerome’s passion for building muscle cars grew from watching the TV program Overhaulin and decided he wanted to build his 1968 Pontiac GTO into a Chip Foose custom street machine, instead of merely trying to achieve the common classic look. Jerome completed many drawings depicting various design options at his disposal. For Jerome this was an integral part of the conceptualising and creative process.
The project lasted over a period of 4 years and although the car has come a long way since Jerome started his work, Jerome admits that work still needs to be done to the car and is still in many ways a work in progress. “It’s not finished, it’s driving on the road, but it’s not completed to the point that I want it to be” says Jerome. Jerome plans on spending more time and money on tweaking the paint job as well as completing the interior.
The car was built with the help of a family friend by the name of Patrick, ‘The Mechanic’. “This guy’s insane. He actually built the whole car. He’s got amazing knowledge. He built the motor up from scratch, he re-did everything, the petrol lines, electronics, the interior, everything” explains Jerome.
When Jerome acquired the body, he sent it to a panel beating shop where the body was worked on for more than a year. Plenty of time and effort went into the body, from sanding to sourcing new parts and panels. Some of the parts were sourced locally in scrap yards and other parts had to be imported from the United States. For Jerome, sourcing parts for his Pontiac GTO was part of the fun of building his own muscle car. All the parts on the car are either brand new or reconditioned. The 6.5 litre V8 engine was rebuilt from scratch. “This car has a certain look and although it’s got a classic feel, I wanted to add a custom street machine twist, which I think I’ve achieved. I love the sound of the car and the fact that it’s completely unique, there is no other car like it” says Jerome.
Passion for muscle cars alone is not always enough when building the car of your dreams, “its also about determination, I’ll tell you that much, because starting one of these projects and finishing one is another thing, many people give up half way, and I’ll be honest, I wanted to give up a few times” laughs Jerome.
Street custom culture is big in the United States and is steadily growing in popularity in South Africa. For Jerome, it’s not just about the cars but rather the people and the culture surrounding muscle cars. “There is a crew of like minded people, sharing their passion for muscle cars and a significant camaraderie exists amongst muscle car owners and that’s what it’s about” says Jerome.
Jerome’s future in building muscle cars is far from over and he has some exciting new challenges lying before him. “I don’t think it will be the last [laughing] let me put it to you that way, there are a few muscle cars that I would still love to build, like the 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda or a 1967 Mustang, if I could ever find one [laughing].”
Jerome’s 1968 Pontiac GTO Al Goaté is hot for a reason. Its performance on the road is, well, brutal, to put it simply.