With a 389 Tri-Power V8 and four-speed manual transmission, there was already a lot to like about the 1961 Pontiac Ventura Sport Coupe that we spotted on one of the turntables in Summit Racing’s Tallmadge, Ohio Retail Super Store.
But when we heard the story behind this particular Ventura, we liked it a lot more. As it turns out, the car was a surprise Father’s Day gift for Keith Blowers’ dad, Robert.
“It was something that kept coming up,” Keith says. “My father would always bring up ‘The Pontiac’ and the stories about it.”
You see, while Robert has owned a lot of really nice cars over the years, he always fondly recalls his first “cool” car: a 1961 Pontiac Ventura that had succumbed to rust decades ago.
So, like any awesome son would do, Keith set out to find and restore a similar Ventura for his pop.
But (spoiler alert!) that process was easier said than done.
That’s because, relatively speaking, Pontiac didn’t build a whole lot of Venturas, which presented Keith with a big problem. “I originally thought I’d hop online, find one, and be off to the races,” he explains.
Instead, Keith describes a long, tedious search and restoration process that spanned several years, involved multiple parties, and even included a false start with another Ventura that was ultimately deemed too-far-gone to begin a quality restoration.
Undaunted, Keith eventually found a good candidate in Arizona and had it shipped to Ohio.
Then, he had a new problem: Hiding a massive GM B-Body coupe and boxes of trim, wheels, and resto pieces from his dad while the restoration occurred. “We were stashing parts all over the place” Keith jokes.
But despite a few close calls, Robert never found out about his family’s surprise.
So after a three-year adventure that began in the winter of 2014, the Ventura was finally ready for presentation in the spring of 2017. Keith, with help from his mom and sister, chose the prestigious annual Stan Hywet Father’s Day Car Show in Akron, Ohio for its unveiling.
“My father and I would go to that Car Show just to look around,” Keith explains. Yet unbeknownst to Robert, this time his “old” Ventura was there, hiding in plain sight. When he spotted the Pontiac nestled among the other show cars, Robert instantly noticed its resemblance to the one he used to own.
As gearheads always do, Robert walked around the car for a closer inspection. But when he rounded the rear fender, he stopped. Inside the Ventura’s trunk was a sign that formally revealed Robert as its new, official owner.
“He was a little stunned,” Keith says with a smile. “But then he saw my mother and sister, and he was really shocked.”
Now in his Father’s loving care, Keith assures us that the Ventura is driven. A lot.
Robert is making the show rounds, including several exclusive Pontiac events, where it’s racking up trophies—and plenty of smiles.
But perhaps more important than the car and the quality of its restoration, was the thoughtfulness behind its arrival. Check out the pictures and decide for yourself.