Back in 1967, just before enlisting in the United States Marine Corps, Original Parts Group customer Gary Hobbs purchased a 1967 GTO. OPGI wasn’t around just yet, but read on and see where we come into play with this touching story.
Gary’s young neighbor, Mark Shannon, who was 11 at the time Gary enlisted, observed his neighbor’s passion for his GTO. He watched him work on the car throughout the years as Gary came back and forth from duty. In 1973 Gary retired from the Marines as a Corporal and was finally able to drive and work on his GTO on a daily basis. Now, I am not of age to remember the “Gas Wars”, although I have heard stories from my parents, but in the ’70s that was something that was a huge struggle for people, including Gary. Those times were especially hard because he drove to work every day from Upland to San Diego, California. He knew it was time to let go of his beloved GTO – he just wasn’t quite ready.
One afternoon in 1975, a man noticed Gary’s car parked in the driveway, and asked if it was for sale. His 19-year-old son’s dream was to own a 1967 GTO, and he had fallen ill with Leukemia. Gary couldn’t have sold his car to a more deserving person and he made that boy’s dreams come true for a very fair price. Sadly, he passed away 2 short years later, after becoming the proud owner of his dream car.
Ever since he sold his car, Gary was on the hunt for another GTO. The only thing stopping him was the funds to do so. Gary was falling ill with multiple diseases himself, including cancer, and his old neighbor Mark felt compelled to find a replacement GTO for his friend of 45 plus years. It wasn’t until about 2 years ago that Mark was able to locate the “one” and come up with the funds to not only purchase the vehicle for his good friend, but to have it shipped from Kansas City to California.
It only made sense to Mark to help build the GTO as a tribute to Gary and his service in the US Marine Corps. The interior is decked out with the USMC symbols embroidered on the floor mats and the trunk is full of memorabilia, including a photo of the actual tank Gary rode in, which he also had tattooed on his arm.
Unfortunately for Gary, one of his diseases causes him to lose vision for short periods of time, so he is no longer able to drive. But, that doesn’t stop him from making his way to OPGI when he is in need of some chrome and other parts and accessories. Of course, none other than Mark Shannon is more than willing to make the trip with Gary to pick up his parts. These two men have formed a very tight bond throughout the years, and they have that 1967 GTO to thank for their friendship!