Sunday, March 12, 2017

Show Car Sunday returns with a very unique Pontiac!

I found myself on the back roads of Long Island City recently when this improbable vision appeared: 
Yowza! This is a 1966 Pontiac Tempest Custom convertible in Burgundy Poly. To encounter any '66 Pontiac is cool, but this one boasts the single strangest collection of options I have ever seen!
Pontiac nailed it in the '60s with their aggressive split grill styling. The stacked headlights were introduced in 1965 and would continue until a major restyling in '68. The hood scoop is correct for the year though you usually see it on the upmarket GTO.
The Tempest convertible wasn't massively popular with only 5,557 produced in '66. Almost every time you do see a '66 Pontiac ragtop it's a Le Mans or GTO. The "Sprint" stripe placement between the wheel wells was a one year only option.
This is one of the most iconic muscle car body styles in history with the '67 GTO being identical. Perhaps the most remarkable achievement is that the same basic body was shared by the Oldsmobile F-85/Cutlass/442, Chevrolet Chevelle, and Buick Special. With the only differences being the front and rear facias the cars look totally distinct from one another.
Brand new for '66 was the single overhead cam *Sprint 6 engine. When this was introduced it was the only automobile engine of its kind in the United States. The block was visibly similar to the Chevrolet inline 6 with the exception of a large valve and camshaft cover. A fiberglass reinforced rubber timing belt replaced the traditional timing chain on this new engine.
*The Sprint was the high performance version of the new OVC6. It had a larger 4 barrel carburetor, hotter cam, higher compression pistons, dual valve springs, split/dual exhaust manifold, and a stronger coil than the base model.
Pontiac had one of the more audacious muscle car options with this hood mounted tachometer! The thought was that you could keep your eyes dead ahead while speed shifting in drag races. From what I can tell the first iteration of this option was with the 1967 Pontiacs as a dealer installed option. Perhaps this '66 sat on the lot until the '67 options were available? Who knows?
If beautiful chrome emblems came back the automotive world would be a better place. The CUSTOM designation was mid-tier above the base model but below the Le Mans and GTO.
The '66 and '67 Tempests were almost identical but the taillights can pinpoint it for you. '67 had larger horizontal taillights as opposed to these outer Vertical units.
The round lenses in the lower bumper are reverse lights. Believe it or not they were not yet required by law when this ride was built. Cars from 1969 through today need to have them but these were either an option or a part of the Custom trim level. My '67 Oldsmobile 442 had them from the factory but the base F-85 and Cutlass didn't.
To me this body lends itself to being a convertible better than most. Rollover protection wasn't worried about so when the top is down only the windshield rises up from the hood level.
At first glance I though this had three pedals which would mean a 3 speed manual transmission on the column. Then I noticed that there's a little chrome fixture on the top of the steering column which would normally mean an automatic. Another mystery!
A bench seat is great in a convertible because you can easily pile 6 people into this thing and cruise to the beach. You can't see from this pic but there was an optional reverb switch available to add some psychedelic sounds to the stereo in this era.
In '66 this was a midsize car! Take a look at the scale of that trunk. Even with the top folded down into the interior there is room galore. 
Well there we have it; a rare collection of options in one lovely set of wheels. We've got the muscle car body in an odd color with a white convertible roof and accent stripe, GTO hood with external tach, and the highest performance version of the smaller engine. When this was new you could walk into the dealership and order any bonkers combination of options you desired as long as you were willing to wait for the factory to produce and deliver the car. It seems that this is what happened here and I'm psyched somebody saw fit to restore a 6 cylinder.


  1. left out on the street??????????

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.