Pontiac GTO is police chief's dream car
Hillsboro Chief of Police Dan Kinning keeps a busy schedule. Between patrolling city streets, staying on top of police vehicle maintenance, tracking down child molesters, and routine meetings with city leaders, he does not have time to waste. If one mentions the Pontiac GTO in his garage at home however, Chief Kinning finds time for a conversation.
“I’ve always been a motor-head,” Kinning said. “Ever since high school I’ve loved cars, especially the older ones. They’re getting hard to find these days.”
Kinning is especially fond of his white 1967 GTO with split grill and 400 cubic-inch Pontiac motor because it reminds him of days gone by.
“I had one just like it in high school when I first started dating my wife,” he said. “She would get all dressed up for a date but most often we ended up in a buddy’s garage looking at a car, or at the drag strip. It’s a good thing she loves cars too.”
Kinning, who grew up in northern Colorado, then moved to Denver his first year of high school, had several favorite muscle cars in the 1970s.
“Back then we could buy them pretty cheap as people were selling them because of the gas crunch,” he said. “I had a 1967 Cougar XR7, two 55 F-150 pickups, a convertible Dodge Dart, and two Cameros.”
It was the chance to once again own a Pontiac GTO that kept Kinning on the lookout when midlife set in and he was more Kansan than Coloradoan.
Kinning spent 16 years as a police officer in Marion, before moving to Hillsboro where he spent the next 18 years as Police Chief.
“I also have a ’77 Trans-am that needs some work. It’s going to be my ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ car,” Kinning said. “But the GTO will always be my heartthrob, after my wife, of course. Maybe it is because I wanted one so bad as a kid, that is why having this one makes me so happy.”
Kinning looked for several years in and around Hillsboro for a GTO. He owned a Corvette at the time and wanted to make a trade as prices for the older, restored cars had greatly increased since his teenage years.
“I paid $300 for my first GTO,” he said. “It was a 1964, the first muscle car ever made — wish I had that one back.”
Kinning said he could have bought a brand new Pontiac GTO for around $3,000 when he was younger, but now, depending on condition, options, and rarity, cost would likely be $30,000 or more.
“They are just really hard to find,” he said. “More guys are hording them and Pontiac quit making them in 2004. I was just real happy to get mine.”
Kinning found his GTO up on blocks at Irv Schroeder Chevrolet in Hillsboro, 15 years ago.
“It was actually Bruce Schroeder’s car, and it turned out that he was Corvette guy too,” Kinning said. “We made a trade and I haven’t regretted it since.”
Though current responsibilities with his job, and life, make it difficult for Kinning to get his car out on the road much, he is looking forward to warmer weather so he can go for a spin.
“It runs good, real good,” he said. “I need to work on the brakes some. It’s scary fast, but those cars are notorious for not stopping well.”
Even though Kinning denied any connection between working as a police officer and liking to drive fast, there is no question that he falls into the “once a motor-head, always a motor-head” category.
“Those cars just make me feel young again,” he said. “It’s fun to relive the good old days. They don’t make them like that anymore.”