Credit: Original article published by Barrett-Jackson.
Written by Barbara Toombs
As Operations Manager for The World’s Greatest Collector Car Auctions, Tom Jarvi – who recently celebrated his 15th year with Barrett-Jackson – spends countless hours in front of a computer, meticulously creating computer-aided design (CAD) drawings of the company’s massive auction sites around the country. He is usually one of the first to arrive on-site for each event, as he supervises the move-in and setup of the auction office, the TV compound and more.
Like so many members of the Barrett-Jackson team, Tom is a “car guy” at heart. He inherited the passion when he was a small child growing up in Minnesota and spending a lot of time with his car-loving grandfather. But it was Tom’s father, also a car buff, who got his son his first set of wheels.
“I got home from high school one day,” Tom recalls, “and my dad said, ‘Hey – do you want to go see your car? I just bought you something.’” The two headed for a garage behind an apartment complex. The car’s owner came out and opened the door to reveal a multicolored vehicle covered in primer and no paint. The teenager was understandably crestfallen. “It looked like a beater you’d find someplace,” he said. “I was a little disappointed when I saw the state it was in, and I had no idea what the car even was.”
Turns out it was a 1968 Plymouth GTX with a 440ci Super Commando engine and an automatic console shifter. Tom’s father reassured his son: “We’re going to restore it, and it’ll be great when it’s done.”
Over the course of the next year, Tom and his dad brought the car back to life. It received an eye-catching gold paint job, with a beautiful matching gold interior.
Shortly after the restoration was complete, Tom decided to attend a music school in northern Michigan. While he was away, his father took the GTX for a spin for the first time. “Something happened,” recalls Tom. “I think my dad thought I’d probably kill myself in that car, because of how fast it was.” Much to his dismay, his father sold the GTX. “I felt like my soul had been ripped out from underneath me,” Tom admits.
Fast-forward to the fall of 2022. Tom happened to be online, and something told him to go on Hemmings.com. “I put in 1968 Plymouth GTX like I did probably once or twice a week, just to see if I could find a picture of something close to what I had,” he said. “And this car pops up from Unique Classic Motorcars in Mankato, Minnesota. I looked at it and said, ‘That is my car!’”
Tom made a few phone calls and, incredibly, was able to determine without a doubt that it was indeed his beloved GTX – and it was still owned by the same man who purchased it from Tom’s dad 35 years earlier. He had built up the engine to a 508ci stroker, but otherwise the car was in the same shape as the day Tom and his dad had restored it.
After more than three decades, the GTX now happily resides in Tom’s garage, reunited with the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado that once belonged to his late brother Dan – two stunning testaments to a family of “car guys.”
“It has been extremely emotional,” Tom admits. “I never really got a chance to know the car before, not fully. Car people have that visceral feeling of hitting the gas and feeling the torque, and the smell and the power – the uniqueness of each individual car. It gets in your blood.”