Cool Cars & Tech
By Patrick Smith
There are birthday presents, and then there are birthday presents that reserve you a spot in heaven.
Joe Hopkins of Liberty Hill, Texas, earned himself one of those with the surprise he gave his father, Cary, last week.
Years ago, a young Cary Hopkins owned a sweet 1969 Pontiac GTO. It was midnight green with a white vinyl top, parchment interior and the classic 400 four barrel V8.
Cary loved that car and owned it for almost a decade, from nearly brand new in ’69 right up until the night it was totalled in a wreck in 1978. On that night, Cary was driving home in a raging thunderstorm and hit a Chevy van that was stuck in the middle of the road with no emergency flashers or tail lights on. Cary figures he was lucky to walk away from that one. The car was not so lucky; it was badly damaged and had to be sold for scrap.
Life went on and Cary tended to the job of raising a family. His son, Joe, was born one year later.
Young Joe grew up surrounded by auto culture. He’d often hear his father, who manages an automotive parts store, reminisce about the “Goat” and knew he still carried a torch for the car.
But muscle car prices were going nowhere but up, and buying a replacement never seemed like an option.
When Cary’s 55th birthday rolled near, Joe decided it was time to change that. He had a plan, a secret, and a dream he was about to make come true.
He was going to find a way to get dad a Goat.
Joe sold his performance truck and bought a GTO, sight unseen, from 1,000 miles away, planning to secretly restore it exactly like dad’s original ride.
Fortunately, the car was pretty much as advertised, and the project was on. It started with the removal of bumpers and front-end tear down, and went on from there. Joe did a frame off restoration of the car in his garage during his spare time at night and on weekends. He had just over a year to do it, with his dad’s birthday, April 21, as the deadline.
Keeping the project a secret from his dad presented another challenge, since they worked together in the same parts supply store and knew all the same people.
But somehow, word never leaked out, and Joe made it with a few days to spare for test driving and troubleshooting.
Then the big day arrived. Last Sunday, on April 21, Joe told his dad he had a birthday surprise for him.
Cary had been talking about raising some goats as a hobby. “I’ve got a prize goat for you to get that hobby started,” Joe told him, and led him, blindfolded, into the backyard with giddy family members in tow.
The blindfold came off, and there was the prize: the restored midnight green and white “Billy Goat.”
Cary’s not a chatty man, but this video of his reaction to the unveiled surprise says it all. Spot in heaven? Pretty much yours, Joe Hopkins.
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