If you were a car guy in the Bismarck, North Dakota, you probably knew Al Blatter or “Mr. GTO.” Al was a friend to anyone that loved cars, especially Pontiacs. If fact, Al, Mr. GTO, kept a book with all his friends’ cars and other people in their car club and the parts that they needed to get their Classics back on the road. It wasn’t a surprise that Al would walk up to one of the guys in the car club and hand them a part for their car that they had been searching years for. Al, “Mr. GTO”, would walk right up to them and hand them that elusive part and walk away smiling ear to ear. So many lifelong friendships were made from their love of cars. For over 25 years, Al and his car friends had cruises and camp outs and many hours around the bonfire talking cars. There was one cardinal rule in the club, “Don’t count your cars and tell guys what you got.” This cardinal rule became apparent this past year after Al, “Mr. GTO” passed away after contracting COVID in 2021. His friends would finally see the mystery of Al Blatter, “Mr. GTO” and his Pontiac hoard.
Sandy Blatter, his wife called their closest friends over to help her start the daunting task of going through “Mr. GTO’s” Pontiac Collection. They knew he had a lot of cars and parts, but it what they found was unbelievable. 90 Pontiacs and many rare cars with half of them consisting of Lemans, GTO’s and Tempests. Everywhere they looked were parts for Pontiacs and mostly all hard-to-find GTO parts from 1964 to 1974. Now it made sense, when Al would show up and give them that mystery part they were looking for. Sandy even found the notebook with all his hand written notes of friends and their car parts needs. While they were working they remembered stories about Al, “Mr. GTO” and how there was no other car than a Pontiac. John remembered a time that Al got mad that he had bought a Chevrolet Corvette instead of a Pontiac. Another friend had his eyes covered by Al, so he couldn’t look at a car that wasn’t a Pontiac.
Al was straight forward and there was no filter with him. This went back to when he was a kid and his first car deal at 10 years old, a 1926 Chevrolet that is still in his collection. But it was a 1969 Pontiac Lemans that he bought at 19 that started his passion for Pontiacs. This car also got his other love of his wife, Sandy. She saw him in his Pontiac and that’s all it took. She was a car gal and they hit it right off. Al lived on the farm on the North Highway 83 edge of Bismarck, N.D. and his first job was working as a mechanic at the JCPenney in his hometown. Al was a skilled mechanic and people waited for him to work on their boats and vehicles. Collecting Pontiac cars was a hobby that they both enjoyed and brought them their closest friends.
The Blatters lived on the family homestead and they noticed Bismarck was growing a bit too much for their liking. So, they sold the farm. Al, being sentimental moved the old shop and even the tree that his dad had planted by the shop years prior. The auction will be held in that shop where you can see that tree today. Al worked as a mechanic and eventually retired to work on his own cars.
Al and Sandy loved to go to the Pontiac-Oakland Shows and National GTO meets. Al would talk to everyone with an interesting car and wanted to learn about their car’s whole story. Sandy remembers it would take hours to go through a show. He was a social butterfly and his passion showed in conversations with other Pontiac collectors. But it was this passion about Pontiacs that kept Al collecting. Al couldn’t stand to see a car get crushed until all the parts were harvested and in the hands of collectors. Al, “Mr. GTO” collected cars back from his high school days and moved all of his vehicles at least 3 times with him over his lifetime. His collecting was a lifelong passion. He had restored many cars and was in the process of restoring a 1970 GTO for Sandy when he became ill. Sadly, he contracted COVID and succumbed to it. Before Sandy knew it, he was gone. Her heart was broken.
Al’s cars were special. Sandy had his 1967 GTO on the program for the funeral. When they were getting ready for the auction, his friends drove that exact car.
After Al’s passing Sandy will take on the title of “Ms. GTO.” Sandy is no stranger to the car hobby, she enjoyed and knew as much as Al. While working on the auction it became apparent that the title of “Ms. GTO” was in the right hands. Sandy is having the 1970 GTO finished and will drive the Pontiac cars with pride. Even though Al, “Mr. GTO” is gone, his memory will live on with all his GTO parts going to collectors for them to finish their projects and restorations. Sandy wants all his cars and parts to go to good homes. Bidders from across the U.S. are coming to buy a piece of this amazing collection.
With all the inventory, VanDerBrink Auctions was called and will sell the collection on July 23rd, 2022 at 9:30 am at the shop outside Wilton, North Dakota in a big 1-day auction. The collection has 90 Pontiacs comprised of GTO’s, Lemans, Catalina, Tempest, 1955 Pontiacs and even an ULTRA RARE 1963 Oldsmobile Jet fire Turbo V8 4-speed car. There are Thousands of 1964-1974 Pontiac GTO parts that will be only for onsite bidders. The auction will be Online and Onsite for cataloged items, but if you are looking for all those GTO parts, you got to be at the auction. There is everything from rare Pontiac Tri-Powers to tail lights and more. Now you can get a piece of the “Mr. GTO” hoard and finish your ride. Just like Al, would say, “Drive them! They don’t belong in a garage or on your trailer!” So, for more information go to www.vanderbrinkauctions.com for pictures, video, catalog, and more information.
A look at some of the vehicles up for sale at the July 23rd sale
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