Leaving behind a lemon to find that the juice was worth the squeeze.
Your eyes aren’t deceiving you, the familiar livery draped over this 2005 Pontiac GTO is in fact the same one you quickly recognize from the famous GTO.R variant that put in an incredible amount of work during the 2005-10 Grand Am race series.
Driven by TRG USA for that 5-year chunk of time, the group boasted almost 70 finishes with 10 class wins and a pair of race wins.
Raymond Bergman was able to emulate that legendary look without ever leaving his shop. Based in Dayton, Hawkeye Brothers has spent the last few decades designing and applying fully custom vehicle wraps and coming up with unique ways to add custom touches in all sorts of finishes.
In the midst of all that, Bergman managed to turn a sour experience with his first GTO into the pride and joy you see pictured.
While he was finishing up high school, he had an automatic 2004 GTO that was nickel and diming him to death. The constant repairs were not only costly, but annoying, so, he started looking for a newer model and even considered other makes and models to see what was out there. During his search, a dealer listed this manual 2005 model at a smoking deal and he decided to stop by. He states, “we went to check it out and they asked if I wanted to see the car better, so they went to pull it out for me. As soon as they started it, I knew I wanted it after being in my $#^!box of a car before.” Trading in his old headache and financing the rest, Bergman got the fresh start he wanted. “This ’05 got me and I’ve had it ever since 62K miles – currently at 114K.”
High school ends and the minor modifications begin but the car remained mostly stock. In 2017, the car’s first vinyl wrap was completed, and he found his way to Maverick Man and began adding some additional parts.
Before things got too serious, though, the GTO was put aside for a 2-year stretch while Bergman’s military duty with the U.S. Air Force stationed him in Japan. Upon his return, he linked up with some fellow car guys in North Carolina and the urge to mod increased dramatically.
Sometime in 2019, he bolted on a set of VMR wheels
and rather than live with a nosebleed ride height, picked up a set of Maverick Man 30-way adjustable coilovers and Whiteline bushings that helped to increase the car’s handling and eliminate dreaded wheel gap.
The basic changes made a big impact and to exploit its newfound ability, the car was let loose on the track at Florida’s The Firm as well as hitting the drag strip on occasion.
As you might imagine, the taste for more power followed shortly after. “Finally, in 2020 I’d saved enough to complete stage 1 of my build with a cam, intake, exhaust, and some reliability upgrades along with a tune.
I finally had that chop and more WHP,” he says. The GTO would serve daily driver duties for a few years as Bergman made his way back to Florida before wrapping it in the GTO.R-inspired livery you see now.
If you look closely, one additional touch of woven fiber shows up in the form of a Carbon Fiber License Plate Frame with beauty hardware.
When Covid put a damper on traveling and track days, local ‘Cars and Coffee’ gatherings were really its only outlet. “Since Covid died down, I saved up to get a truck and no longer have to daily my car. I decided to upgrade my trans for the power I want to make,” he states. “As of now the car sits until more racecar bits get installed, and it’s become a proper project as opposed to being driven every day.” Other than a minor differential and steering rack leak, and a “clunk” in the transmission, the car has proven to be entirely reliable over the years and has been a huge step away from his original problem child GTO.
With no need to hold back on the mods now that he’s got his truck for daily operations, Raymond Bergman’s GTO is headed in a whole new direction.
“Future plans for this car are to add boost (I can’t decide between turbo or Procharger), gut the car to lighten it up, upgrade more drivetrain and suspension, and overall turn it into a street/track car that I can hop into whenever while still looking good.”
Raymond Bergman’s 2005 Pontiac GTO
Engine LS2; Poly lowering mounts; Texas Speed Torquer V2 cam, dual valve springs, retainers, chromoly pushrods; BTR trunnion upgrade; Cold Air Inductions intake; Speed Engineering 1 7/8 long tube headers; 3-inch X-pipe, 3-inch piping; Black Widow Neighborhater mufflers, 5-inch exhaust tip
Drivetrain RPM Transmissions lvl 6 T56; RTX twin disk ceramic; McLeod lightweight aluminum flywheel; 3.73 ratio LSD; GMM Ripshift shifter
Wheels & Tires VMR V701 18x8.5 ET45 front, 18x9.5 ET45 rear; Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 4
Outside Custom vinyl wrap by Hawkeye Brothers of Daytona; Maverick Man splitter, SAP grilles, spoiler, rear exhaust insert, plate frame w/beauty hardware; Trackspec hood louvers, billet arrowhead badges; new OEM headlights; tinted taillights, LED conversion; Metra underglow kit
Inside Corbeau Forza seats; MPI Cleetus steering wheel; NRG quick-release and Hub; new OEM shift boot; Alpine head unit, Apple Carplay
Thank You to: Seymour42 (airforce carclub in NC). Hawkeye Brothers Signs & Graphics. My wife, Sara.
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Author -> Staff