Sunday, December 11, 2011

Look what I found: 1963 Pontiac Catalina

A 1963 Pontiac Catalina followed me home. This time I may have gone a bit overboard when checking out a cool car to write about. Junkyardlife guys love finding a cool car, photographing it, dreaming a lot and then writing the whole thing down. How much further did I go with this Catalina? It is now in my driveway. 
  The story unfolded innocently enough. I went to a house where I heard someone had some Oldsmobile parts for sale. I was looking for an A/C bracket for my 1979 Trans Am and I came back with this big, crusty Pontiac. Yep. It’s mine. That’s the good news. The bad news is also that it’s mine. It needs essentially everything. 

Dig what they gave you to hold on to when that GM Posi-traction rear end started side-stepping? In this case it was used to guide grandma to the fabric store.

’63 Catalina lures new owner
  The Poncho has its original 389 4-barrel, Slim Jim transmission Power Glide combination. Its got bench seats with the way cool Pontiac emblem stitched right on them from the factory. That’s one thing I always thought was super cool about these cars. Four Pontiac Motor Division hub caps brighten up the rolling stock rims and the heater proudly declares Pontiac right across the dial. I have never seen that before and it very well may have contributed to the spontaneous “I’ll take it!” I somehow managed to tell the lady owner. My drooling completely negated any negotiating skills I may have ever had. 
  This big Cat was only a little more than basic transportation of its day. Not a lot of options here, which seems to be pretty collectible these days. This one has an add-on air conditioner from Sears that is mounted under the dash. That was not as uncommon as it seems. I understand Sears was a very reputable automobile air conditioning name at the time. Laugh, if you want.

The ’63 was full of trim and emblems such as this Catalina fender emblem. If only Pontiac were still around to give us a full-size, rear-wheel drive Catalina today. You could always bolt some of these emblems onto your 2009 G8.

Imagine this cool bench with a long Hurst bent up and around. The seats are not bad. Plus, I love the Pontiac emblem stitched in the seats.

Too many projects, what was I thinking?
  If I were to keep the Pontiac (which I cannot due to many other projects), I would have to hang onto the bench seat and find one of those base model shifters that curve around the sofa-like seat for my 4-speed! If I could not find a 421-cubic inch engine, I would build a 455 and spray it very Pontiac blue, then disguise it as a 421. I would give Edelbrock a call and score a factory-looking aluminum intake to perch two Carters on top. I would go back with the factory green on the exterior and (you know me!), leave the hub caps for that ‘Earth Roaming Car Guy’ sleeper appeal.

Aftermarket wheels? Sure, after you kill me!

Swiss Cheese please
  Here’s a bit of cool Pontiac trivia. Did you know Pontiac built 14 Catalinas strictly for the NHRA’s Super Stock drag races with aluminum bumpers, fenders and hood along with approximately 120 holes drilled into the frame to lighten the load even more? They were nicknamed “Swiss cheese” Pontiacs. In 1963 these modified, full-size Pontiacs did quite well at the track. 12-seconds and change on the 1/4-mile at 120 mph. Your average Joe may not have been able to stroll into a Pontiac dealership and order a Swiss cheese car, but he could check off a mean street car with 421 cubic inches of Pontiac fury with two four-barrel carbs and a mean four-speed.

Here’s the crazy Pontiac heater I was so crazy about. The irony of calling a heater “cool.”

What now?
  Sometimes a great project car can take years to find. Sometimes they just appear before you.
  I’m about to walk out and see if I can figure out what I’m going to do with this thing. I may not be able to keep it, but I assure you it will not go to a car crusher. Save as many as you can, and as always… Happy Hunting! 

Ron Kidd, The Earth Roaming Car Guy at

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junkyjunkie said...

I believe that car should have a Roto-Hydramatic 375 (also known as a Slim-Jim) transmission not a Powerglide. The 2 marks on either side of the "D" should actually be positions for the lever. What are you going to do with this car? I had one that I really wanted to restore but needed dependable transportation and it wasn't. I had to sell it and bought a '64 Galaxie to replace it.

Junkyard Life said...

Thanks! You are correct about the transmission junkyjunkie, got it fixed above.

The big Cat has found a new home. Ron Kidd ran out of driveway/garage space with his many projects and buddies projects, so it had to go. It went to a good home - maybe we can get an update soon?

Unknown said...

Looking for 1963 Grand prix rear tail light pan