Pentwater man creates unique bench from grille of ‘67 Pontiac GTO

December 15, 2023

Pentwater man creates unique bench from grille of ‘67 Pontiac GTO’

‘The lumber I used was from a beech tree that had to be taken down last year in Scottville. So, the tree now lives on as a bench.’

By Ron Beeber, Contributing Writer

PENTWATER — Do you remember the Pontiac GTO, a popular 1960s muscle car from GM? With Christmas right around the corner, try searching online for “GTO and Christmas.” Up pops an assortment of postings about GTO sweaters, ornaments, greetings cards, a Christmas music album, and even a tabletop tree that emits the “rrrr” sound of a revving engine.

But Dean Lydey of Pentwater has created something even better — a wood bench that he built around an actual grille from a 1967 Pontiac GTO muscle car.

“I began doing mostly wood projects, like segmented bowls and projects for our house, because I had experience. But then I came across this front end of a ’67 GTO that someone in Pentwater had posted on Facebook Marketplace. I once owned a ’65 GTO. I didn’t know what I was gonna do with this ’67 grille. But then the bench idea sorta came to me as a piece of art to display somewhere at home. The lumber I used was from a beech tree that had to be taken down last year in Scottville. So, the tree now lives on as a bench.”

Lydey’s creativity drew plenty of attention from fellow Pentwater Artisan Learning Center members when he was creating it. He and his wife, Jennifer, joined the PALC two years ago after retiring to Pentwater from Ohio.

When asked what he likes best about joining the Artisan Center, Lydey quickly answers, “It’s the people, by far!

“I’m reasonably comfortable around woodworking tools. but last week I learned two brand new skills after I ran into problems and was scratching my head. Jim Crum and Barry Freed saw that I was struggling, and they made a couple of suggestions that ended up being problem solvers. That’s what’s so special about the artisan center. Members are so willing to share ideas and teach each other.”

“Dean brought in this wood plank that was 8-feet long and 1-inch thick, with a strip of the tree’s bark running along each side of the plank,” said Freed. “We showed him how to cut the bark off cleanly by first screwing a straight board onto the plank and then running the plank along the guide of a table saw. That gave him a nice clean cut on one side, so he could then easily slice the bark off the other side.”

Sitting down on it can make one start humming “Little GTO,” the 1964 hit tune by Ronny and the Daytonas.

The nonprofit PALC is more than halfway to its fundraising goal to repair, replace, and add new equipment that’s needed for the next 20 years. For more information, call (231) 869-5323. Contributions can be made by logging onto oceanafoundation.org/give/our-funds. In the “Search Funds” box, enter “Equipping the Pentwater Artisan Learning Center for the Next 20 Years Fund” and follow the prompts. 

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