GT was the first mountainbike brand that I truly adore and I still do, even though I sigh when comparing today's GT's to the old ones. Not that the new ones are bad bikes, but their vibe is different.
As a 14 year old kid from Romania, very very idle and disconnected from the outside MTB world where stuff was happening, a 1996 German shop catalog with a black/red Aggressor and a yellow/blue Outpost was such a precious thing that I can't put it in words. The next year I had some internet access from my uncle's IT company and the first thing I did was printing the entire GT website with an emphasis on the Avalanche LE that I liked so much. In the years to come I learned more and more about bikes and about GT's. I read about your father's impact and how he traveled the country to meet every shop owner that was carrying GT's in person and how that translated into the bikes. It's a story that I bring up almost every time I talk GT's with other people. I wouldn't have it any other way.
During that time, I watched the World Cup on Eurosport and was a huge fan of Mike King, Eric Carter and Steve Peat. Their LTS bikes seemed untoucheable. In 1999 I met my local downhill hero who was riding a thermoplast 1998 Lobo. It was raining, there was a parade of riders in our city because of the Nationals that took place, I was waiting at the red light while they passed in front of me and he splashed me with all the water from a puddle. Later that day I asked him "Is it really you? Is this the Lobo? Can I touch it?" It was a weird and uncomfortable moment. One year later I ended up living with him while away from home for university. By that time, he got the 1999 aluminium Lobo. He's one of my good friends and a guy I gold in high regard. The 1999 Lobo, welded and abused, is mine now and quite a story in itself.
At some point, I started searching for old bikes and ended up collecting them. I hitchhiked two times to buy two 1993 Karakorams from remote cities, a big Ferrari Red one and a small Black Light one. I also have another 1999 Lobo, a weird 1998 Moto cruiser, a 1997 Arrowhead that needs to be built, a 1990 Karakoram and I am still looking for an elusive Zaskar in the right size, while keeping an eye open for anything else interesting in terms of GT's. STS DH, XCR-1000, DHi... They'll come and I know it. I seriously know every older GT from my town by color, specs and owner. The city has around 250.000 inhabitants but trust me, I know my GT's.
So did your father influence my life? He sure did! One can look at bikes as being just "products" and that's fine with me. To each, his own. But there's a big truth to the fact that they can also be life changing and I don't only mean those people in Africa for whom a bike is vital to get to a doctor or other serious examples like that. It's other things too. People don't swarm around a brand if there's nothing special about it. With GT's, nothing comes by chance, I guess, and you can never underestimate people's passion.
I don't know if I'll ever stop buying GT's. I can't stand the idea that somebody else would under-appreciate them. I have secret plans to trade for most older GT's that I know of, even though they are rather low-key bikes and nothing from the upper segment. It's just how it is.
Sorry if I got a little bit nostalgic, melancholic and sentimental. I usually do when I talk about how bikes evolved for us over here.
Here are a few pics with GT's:
I actually want to paint the old Lobo frame white and get it signed by Peat, Rennie, Kovarik and Kircaldie, maybe even Carter and King. That particular frame won two National Championships and enabled 3 people to get sponsorships and push their riding. I want it framed and hung some place important. It's a piece of history and it has soul like a million other bikes.
I apologize if this rant was too long and I wish you all the best with your project!
Cheers from Romania!
1990 GT Karakoram 20" Purple Haze (urban project); 1993 GT Karakoram 20" Ferrari Red (classy beater); 1993 GT Karakoram 14.5" Black Light (almost original); 1994 Breezer Jet Stream 18" (unlikely story); 1995 Winora full suspension (a fine riding mistery); 1997 Kona A'Ha (anniversary edition); 1997 GT Arrowhead 18" (poisoned gift); 1998 Stevens 6.1.2 (true warrior); 1998 GT Moto cruiser (just google it!); 1999 Santa Cruz Chameleon (the heartbreaker revived); 1999 GT Lobo 1000 (retired with works Super T); 2000 GT Lobo (turns original); 2001 Klein Attitude Comp 19" (ultralight project); 2001 Cannondale Jekyll 1000 SL (better that a lot of "fresh" bikes); 2003 Intense Tazer (close to factory team spec); 2003 Intense M1 (old dream on hold); 2007 Crupi Pro XXL (pumptrack teacher)