Saturday, January 18, 2014

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1966 Pontiac Catalina Convertible

You'll find a lot of cars named for places in California, especially in Southern California. Chevy Malibu comes to mind, named for the affluent beachfront community. Chevy Bel Air, the tony suburb of Los Angeles. Mercury Monterey, the coastal town famous for its Cannery Row. Chevy Tahoe, named for the big blue lake nestled among the Sierra Nevada. Chrysler Pacifica, the surfer town north of Half Moon Bay. And then there's the sunny vacation spot near Santa Barbara, Santa Catalina Island. The Pontiac Catalina began as a top trim line on the 1950-58 Chieftain hardtop coupes.

As time went on and people became interested in the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah for land speed record attempts, Pontiac introduced the Bonneville Special sports car concept in 1954. The Bonneville Special was never built, but the name was adopted on the full-size street Pontiacs for the most powerful and luxurious model. In 1959 Catalina became a model in its own right but was kicked down to the entry-level rung in the full-size lineup. This would continue until 1981 when the Catalina was discontinued.

The 1966 Catalina as seen here was a facelift of the all-new '65 model. I love a lot of the mid-to-late '60s Pontiacs, including many of the full-size offerings like this one. (I have a particular soft spot for the station wagons and would love to have the opportunity to feature one someday.) The Catalina was available as a full range of body styles and a complement of powertrains. The Catalina's engines are an interesting mixed bag, as output varied based on the transmission specified, different compression ratios and carburetors. For example, the base 389 cubic inch V8 produced more horsepower with the Turbo Hydramatic automatic and higher compression (290 hp) than the same engine with the 3-speed stick and lower compression (256). The four-barrel carburetor version of the same engine produced more power with the manual (333 hp) than with the Hydramatic (325). If that wasn't enough, you got 338 horsepower with the four-barrel 421 big block. The one to have if you wanted real performance was the 421 High Output V8 with Tri-Power, producing a stonking 376 horsepower. The Catalina convertible accounted for 14,837 sales.

The lack of fender badging on this convertible tells me it's a base 389 car, which isn't too bad considering how big and heavy it is. Most of the body is in very good condition apart from some minor creases in the right front fender. Those could probably be straightened out with a hammer and dolly if someone had the patience and skill. Aside from that, the car mostly just needs paint and refreshed chrome. The rear badging's missing, and the driver side mirror, but everything else is there and even the convertible top still looks serviceable. If it were mine I'd check the fit of some of those body panels, in particular the hood and trunk lid. I'd also nix the rusty moon caps for either a set of factory wheelcovers or Pontiac Rally II wheels with the same white-line tires. It might also look good on Hurst 5-spoke wheels with white-letter or redline tires. A nice thick coat of shiny red and some better rolling stock would go a long way on this car.

1 comment:

  1. Those vertical headlight clusters are tres cool, wonder what might be achieved with a bottle of wax and a couple of hours of polishing could do for the paintwork ?