Nfld. & Labrador

The early beginnings of Jake Doyle's trusty sidekick

For six seasons of Republic of Doyle, it was Jake Doyle's equivalent to the batmobile —​ the famous blue, 1960's GTO, and it was seen regularly squealing tires around the streets of St. John's.

For six seasons of Republic of Doyle, it was Jake Doyle's equivalent to the batmobile —​ the famous blue, 1960's GTO, and it was seen regularly on the show squealing tires around the streets of St. John's. 

What most people don't know is that the show's other star isn't actually a GTO, and for years it was one St. John's man's labour of love.

For nearly 25 years, the car sat in business owner Bill Leary's garage. 

"The car I bought in 1991, we were at a car show in Pennsylvania, there was three or four people there from St. John's. We flew there and drove back with a few cars," Leary told the St. John's Morning Show.

One of those cars was what would become a staple in the popular television series.

I couldn't afford to buy the real one, so I made one.- Bill Leary

"It's actually a Tempest, a Pontiac Tempest, which is the same body as a GTO, it's just that the bumpers and some of the trim and tail lights are a little different," Leary explained. " So, over time I [collected] the parts and turned it into what it is today."

Leary, who owns the Dent Specialists on Thorburn Road, said the vehicle was in "amazing condition" and had all of its original parts when he purchased it for $2,500 US. 

For nearly a year, Leary said he worked to transform the Tempest into a GTO, installing a new bumper and tail lights and changing the trim. 

"I couldn't afford to buy the real one, so I made one," Leary said, parking it in the winter and breaking it out for the summer months.

That was until 2010, when he was approached by someone with the CBC show, when Leary was working on rental cars used by show employees.

"I had the [GTO] in the shop one day and they talked about the show and wondered if anyone had a car that could be featured on [Republic of Doyle], and I showed him that and it went from there," Leary said.

"I had it 19 years, so I hadn't been using it the last couple that I owned it, so I figured it was time to move on."

Now, Leary gets to see his labour of love on the television screen. 

"I still like watching the TV show, when it's coming around the corner and you see the side-view — it's a beautiful looking car."

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