1965-67 Catalina 2+2. Any experts out there?

parmparm Member Posts: 724
edited March 2014 in Pontiac
At the much appreciated advice of others in the Classic Cars Town Hall, I've expanded my search for a nice 1960's convertible cruiser to include a mid-60's Pontiac Catalina 2+2.

I know a fair amount about this car (ie., it had its own model designation in 64-66 and was reduced to a mere option package in '67 (its last year). Engine choices ranged from a 389 to the revered 421 Tri-Power and you could even order one with a Hurst 4-speed.

However, I've never driven one of these and would appreciate any feed back from those who have. How do these car drive out? I imagine they accelerate fairly smartly, but can they stop and find their way through a corner? Were disc brakes available on this car?

Also, after checking with the CPI and VMR value guides, the absolute best 2+2 convertible (with all options) is valued at $18K to $20K. I'm aware of a '66 2+2 convertible that's reportedly been fully restored (I've not seen it). But, the seller wants $39K and won't budge down from that figure. Thus, I politely declined to pursue this car any further. Is there any way this car can be worth $39K?


  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    I actually drove one of these once, with a Tri-Power 421 and 4 speed. The shocks were completely gone and it was a nautical experience but I loved the car. It wasn't as quick as I expected but then most of the cars I've driven aren't so don't go by that.

    In fact there's a Car and Driver test from March 1965 that has a 2+2 doing the quarter in 13.8 seconds at 106 mph and 0-60 in 3.9 seconds--weighing 4155 pounds and with a 3.42 axle. That 106 mph trap speed means serious horsepressure.

    These numbers are completely unrelated to the average 2+2, of course, designed to sell Pontiacs and magazines and not necessarily in that order. The car had been thoroughly massaged by Royal Pontiac and came with a crew that probably included a professional drag racer. The 0-60 number was probably timed with a stopwatch and a quick finger. But it should give you an idea of what a race-prepped 2+2 with slicks can do.

    I like big '60s cars but the 2+2 felt huge even to me. The interior with the canted gauges is great. Pontiac knew how to style and engineer cars, both inside and out, to appeal to a broad range of buyers including enthusiasts. I like all kinds of cars but I'm not sure any other manufacturer even came close during this time.

    My experience with pre-'67 Pontiac cylinder heads is that they really don't tolerate low-octane gas very well, but the later heads handle 91-octane fairly well, especially the low-compression '71-up heads (which also have hardened valve seats for unleaded gas).

    The optional 8-lug drum brakes are fairly efficient and very attractive, and they're a must-have on any full-size '60s Pontiac. My guess is that discs were available by '67, perhaps as early as '66. As far as handling, there's nothing inherently wrong with them, aside from 4000+ pounds, a 121" wheelbase, steering with no feel that's 4.2 turns lock to lock and a 56/44 weight distribution. Just the usual '60s land yacht stuff.
  • parmparm Member Posts: 724
    Yes, I'm familiar with the C/D article and you're right - the test car had been thoroughly massaged. Thus, the track times from that article are utterly ridiculous.

    What about my observations about value and do you think that even the best '66 2+2 on the planet could be worth $39K under normal, open market conditions? (ie., not in the artificial value world of Barrett-Jackson, etc.)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    No, the price seems outrageous. Of course, each car must be evaluated individually. I suppose if it had 10 miles on it and Elvis owned it, well then maybe, yes. Even the CPI numbers seem high. You MUST remember that the top value in these guides may be for #1 show cars...these are cars that are made better than new and are never, ever driven....only trailered.

    So if you are looking at a car that is actually driven on the street, it is automatically not a #1 and is not worth #1 price guide price.
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    Check out the link below for price guides. Some don't work, but most of them do. It is showing 67 2+2 Convertibles's going for under $8,000, assuming #3 condition.


    Most cars for sale will be #3 cars, which may be the place to look. Most #2 cars are considered better by their owners than what they are worth, so it may be cheaper to find a #2 and spend 4-5k to bring it up to #2 condition. (So you can lose money trying to sell it too) A complete car with good mechanicals, solid body, decent paint and interior is a place to start. It gives you a car that still looks good, is fully servicable, and you can use it while deciding whether redoing the interior chrome, paint chips and scratches, and other cosmetic issues are worth it. Just keep the mechanicals and rust repair up to date, which will run maybe $500 a year unless something major blows.

    In your price range, you should be able to get a beautiful #2 car. For my price range, shipping and transportation added too much for cars out of state, so I tried to be flexible.


    Depends on what you want to do with the car. If you don't plan on showing it, a #3 car with drum brakes will be fine for weekend cruising.

    Of course, I understand the bug bites hard, and I've been spending a lot of time figuring out what upgrades I want to do this winter to mine.

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    At least in my opinion.

    One major problem...you'll probably never find one, especially a convertable.

    I think they were ALL 421's. The hottest one of all was the '65-66 tri-power. They had 376 horsepower and were EXTREMELY fast!

    A guy in my hometown had a yellow '65 with that engine. He could beat almost anything that was street legal at the time!

    One of my favorite cars of all time.

    Good luck finding one!
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    Obviously both Isell and I have the hots for 2+2s which bodes well for resale value since we're probably a representative sample of the general gearhead population.

    However, I think we're both about the same age and neither one of us is getting any younger, which makes me a little concerned about value say ten or fifteen years down the road. The 2+2 doesn't have the same broad appeal as a GTO. How many 35-year-olds know or care what a 2+2 is?

    As far as I know the 2+2 option was just a bucket seats and trim package. If you're just looking for a cruiser maybe you'd be better off not paying a premium for a 2+2 and just finding a nice Catalina with buckets.
  • ghuletghulet Member Posts: 2,564
    from 'Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-75':

    64 2+2=option, no mention of engine (base for Catalina was 389/2bbl), but I'm pretty sure 421 was standard; cost $231 for ht or cvt (7998 made);
    65 2+2=option, 421 standard, no mention of cost, no breakdown of production figures;
    66 2+2=separate series, $405 extra for hardtop, $383 for convertible compared to standard Catalina. Included 421 4bbl/338 hp, low-restriction exhaust, chrome air cleaner and valve covers, emblems, buckets, sports steering wheel. Total production=6383, no breakdown for coupe or convertible;
    67 2+2=option $410 coupe/$389 conv, included 428 4bbl, buckets, dual exhaust, stablilizer bar and special trim. No production figures.

    I think Pontiac couldn't keep decent production histories because they offered so MANY full-sized cars in the mid 60s. They offered every year from 64-67 Catalina and 2+2 (some years offered 'Ventura' trim also, w/ or w/o 2+2), Bonneville and Grand Prix. Also 64-65 Star Chief (between Cat and Bonne), 66 Star Chief Executive, 67-on Executive. I guess other makes offered this many big cars then, it seems mind boggling now. The coolest thing about Pontiacs was that you could get a 'sporty' model (or at least option it that way--buckets, big engine, 4 speed) with just about any big car they offered. Oh yeah, no disc brakes mentioned in my book til 68, though they might have been offered (this book is not exhaustive).

    IMHO, 2+2s are rare but not so much that they're outrageous (with some exceptions). Big muscle cars have a limited audience, except for Impala SS. 60s Pontiacs are really desirable across the board, but prices are all over the place. Kinda like with most cars, the *best* one is always gonna be outrageous (I saw a $60k 67 GTO convertible the other day), but really nice one are available for 1/3 to 1/2 the price. I think unless smoking the tires or having buckets is super important, a Bonneville or Catalina 'vert would do just as well as a cruiser.

    Let us know what you find, good luck!!!
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,075
    ...I think even a standard Catalina or Bonneville might still fit the bill! I've "grown up" a bit in the years I've had my '67, but can tell ya it had no problem smoking the rear tire. I would say "tires", but no Posi-traction here :-(

    The thing I always liked about big Pontiacs is that they came standard with a big engine. Even the cheapest Catalina still would've had a 389 or 400. With Chevy though, you'd get stuck with an inline-6, and would have to pay extra for a bigger engine.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    those big Catalina 2+2's could REALLY move! Oh...if the published quarter mile speeds are shown, there were certainly faster cars.

    But...get one on the open road! Even at 80 MPH in fourth gear if you stomped on the gas these would thorw you into the backseat!

    Of course, I love GTO's too. Still given the choice I would take the 2+2 hands down!

    Trivia...Pontiac had a one year only color in 1965 that Chevy used too. It was a love it or hate it color...anyone? No cheating now!
  • parmparm Member Posts: 724
    Good question. I was all set to guess Turquoise, but then I remembered seeing a Turquoise '64 T-Bird and you said Ford only used the color in '65. So, I guess I'm writing this only to see it in print.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    It was a GM color. Only used in 1965 by Chevrolet and Pontiac.

    No books now...
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    Iris Mist Metallic. A very sensitive shade of lavender. I had a friend who had a mint loaded '65 GTO convertible, 4-speed, Tri-Power, in that color. Everyone oohed and ahhed about the car but I kept thinking, "Yeah, but the color."
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,075
    ...I looked at a '64 Bonneville that had originally been a color that the guy said was called "Dusty Rose". It was re-painted a lavender color though. Actually it didn't look that bad. The car still looked macho enough to shake off that "girly" color ;-)
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    on a '65 Impala, but those are the only two cars I've seen in that color. So that cinches it.

    BTW the standard '64 2+2 engine was the 389/2v, according to a road test of one I have.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,075
    ...but it seems to me that Pontiacs used a lot of gold back in the 60's. Can't think of any Chevies offhand that I've seen in gold, although I have seen some Oldsmobiles.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    I seem to recall a lot of '68-up GPs in gold but very few GTOs. Medium and dark green were big then.

    Speaking of "what were they thinking" colors, how about that Lime Gold Ford offered in the late '60s? It seems like every fifth Cougar and Mustang came in that color, a light green metallic. I hated it then but kind of like it now, maybe because it's so uniquely late '60s. The automotive equivilent of an Avocado Gold stove.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    Well, you got the color right but not the name.

    It was called Evening Orchid.

    Actually not bad but it wouldn't have been my first choice.

    A GTO convertable exactly like your friend had went through a Silver Auction here in Seattle a few years back. It drew quite a crowd!
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    Must have been the same car. I can't imagine more than one like that. Maybe that's why it drew a crowd. I just couldn't handle that color.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    Evening Orchid was pretty popular. More so on the Chevys. Our next door neighbor bought one new. A 65 Impala SS 327/300 horse Powerglide. The seats were white and the car was a knockout!

    Still believe it or not, yellow is the color I most remember those years. It really looked good with a black interior.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,075
    ...that shows color choices, for the '65 GTO's, at least. I don't know how representative the colors on the computer screen are to the real thing though.

    It shows Iris Mist, but not Evening Orchid.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    I could be wrong. Since the color was the same I assumed that Pontiac called it the same thing as Chevy did.

    We always called the lavender Ponchos Evening Orchid buy we may well have been wrong.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,075
    I meant to actually POST the URL...my goof ;-) http://ultimategto.com/65colors.htm
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    I think Chevy and Pontiac had different names for the same colors. Both had a dark blue around that time that was identical but Chevy called it Danube Blue and Pontiac called it Liberty Blue as I recall.

    Yeah, white over Iris is sharp but it's just a little...I don't know, I'm more of a white over medium blue metallic kind of guy. That's a happy combination, kind of like a Florida beach.

    My Judge was white over Carousel Red, very snappy. Bright red looks cheap on the early Goats but I saw a '65 Impala 409 at the Palo Alto Concours that was gorgeous in black over bright red. Black over burgundy was real popular on Pontiacs then and I had a '67 GTO with that combination--very purposeful.

    It's a shame we don't have red interiors anymore. Red over white is very crisp, one of my favorites. Lots of Galaxie XLs were red over black, a real dramatic statement. Actually you can still get a red interior in the LeSabre, so I don't know what that says about my taste.
  • ghuletghulet Member Posts: 2,564
    Chevy called it Evening Orchid, Pontiac called it Iris. My friend's grandma had a Corvair coupe, of all things, this color when I was a kid. Kinda cool.
    There's an Iris 65 Bonneville right now for sale on e-bay. It's a repaint, not quite the right color (I remember it being more gray than this car), but a very nice car.

    What was that metallic blue-green color called, sold on GMs in 65-66 (most often seen on Pontiacs and big Chevies)?
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,075
    ...I'm not sure exactly what it's called, but I'm sure there were several different shades of it, and they probably called it something different between the divisions, and also from year to year.

    I think I know the color you're talking about. There's a '66 Olds 88 around the corner from my home for sale, and it's painted kind of a dark turqouise, with a light turquoise cloth interior. I think it's a really nice color.

    My '67 is a light creamy yellow with a black top and interior, which I think is pretty nice, but I always loved those pastel greens and blues from the 50's and 60's.
  • parmparm Member Posts: 724
    As I know you're a '67 Catalina owner, I'm curious to get your input as to how comfortable the front buckets seats are. I've been considering a '67 Grand Prix convertible with bucket seats (no power). The last car I owned with out multiple seat adjustment was a '77 Trans Am which was very comfortable - though the tilt wheel probably had a lot to with that.

    Also, do you know if tilt steering columns were available in the '67 Pontiac Catalina/Bonneville/GP? If so, I wonder how feasible it'd be to replace a non-tilt column with a tilt-column.

    Any input with regard to the seats and tilt column would be appreciated.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    Tilt was available in the GTO by '67 so it must have been available in the larger Pontiacs by then. It's a bolt-in swap in the goats but the hard part is finding the tilting column. The tilt in my '67 GTO was one of the rarer options. Probably more big Pontiacs were ordered with tilt but more of those cars were crushed and fewer stripped of parts so my guess is that a full-size tilt column is hard to find. Check the Pontiac parts for sale section of Hemmings. Maybe any full-size GM tilt from that era will fit. There are probably column-shift and console-shift tilt columns.

    There must be a gear that holds the wheel in position and mine seemed to be worn because I could (accidently) move the steering wheel up and down without using the disengaging mechanism--so maybe that's something to look out for.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,075
    My '67 Catalina has a tilt column, which I would imagine was very rare on a low-line car like a Catalina. I had a '69 Bonneville too, a much more luxurious car, and it didn't have tilt. I do have the same problem that Speedshift's GTO had, that if you grabbed the wheel hard enough, you could move it without using the disengaging lever. I found this out one day when one of my friends sat behind the wheel, and for some reason was trying to imitate a panic stop and grabbed the wheel real hard, making it drop down a notch or two. I'm sure I could do the same if I really tried, but evidently I have a little more respect for my property than some people. Maybe I should pay him back by asking to drive his '72 Corvette with the 4-on-the-floor. The catch being, I can't drive a stick ;-)

    As for comfort, well, I just have a bench seat, and it's not power, but I think it's very comfortable. It's thickly padded, and gives good leg and back support. It doesn't have head rests though, I don't think they were required until 1969. It's also a very roomy car. Being a convertible, it's not going to have as much room as a hardtop coupe, but even with the top down, there's about as much trunk room as a modern Intrepid or LeSabre, and it's still wide enough for three people in the back. How many modern convertibles can boast that?

    Three people across up front is a breeze, too. This is something most modern cars, even those with bench seats, just aren't capable of. I don't think any car made today has as much shoulder room. Plus, most modern cars have a dashboard protrusion right in the middle that houses the radio and climate controls. Many modern dashes are fairly low too, which cuts into your foot room.

    BTW, the '67 Grand Prix is a really sweet car! I think that was the only year they offered the Grand Prix as a convertible.
  • crossedrealitycrossedreality Member Posts: 72
    andre: you can't drive a stick? I never would have guessed. I feel your pain about people treating your property as their own though.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    Andre is the guy with the 67 Poncho.

    I once owned a 64 Catalina 2 door HT. It was fairly rare in the fact it had the 421 4bbl with a three speed on the column!

    It took forever to shift but MAN, was it fast!

    I also owned a '67 GTO.

    This was in the mid-seventies.

    At that time, I guess I thought the seats were comfortable enough. I'm sure the modern cars are much better.

    Tilt steering was actually a pretty common option on GM cars back then. I remember as a kid seeing a 63 Impala with tilt (first year offered) and I wondered what good that could possibly do.
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    I don't know if this will help, but this website is all classic Pontiac parts. I have no affiliation with them, they just sponsored a Pontiac show up in Norwalk, Ohio over the summer when I was shopping for a Pontiac convertible, so I marked their website.

    It might contain some info on the steering column parts. Or you could e-mail them and ask.


  • cccompsoncccompson Member Posts: 2,382
    Although this discussion seems to have expired, I just stumbled across it and wanted to share some things based on my ownership of a '67 2+2 hardtop from 1978 to 1987.

    It was an unusual (probably specially ordered) vehicle with a bench seat, 4-speed, 428 HO (376 HP), and posi. Add-on AC had been installed at some point. Black in and out with plain wheel covers.

    I owned quite a few muscle cars of that era and that 2+2 was as quick as any of them and especially strong at lower speeds. Don't know what the final drive ratio was (probably a 3.55) and it did not have a tachometer. It drove good on the highway but, of course, had little handling ability. The 4 wheel power drum brakes were adequate (and certainly better than the manual drums I had on one '67 GTO which occasionally required two feet!) It had model specific interior door panels which I doubt would ever be available in reproduction.

    There's one other reason that car was special - my wife and I drove it on our first date on January 6, 1979. I'm lucky to still have her and wish I still had the 2+2!

    Back to the original question - although they are far rarer than GTOs, they have the same performance at a lower price.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    Maybe I'm just an old gearhead (okay, I am an old gearhead) but I think full-size four speed cars are great. Maybe it's because the combination is so unexpected. Full size equals cruiser and four speed equals sport. I've had three of them, all Impalas, and would love to have a four speed 2+2. Good performers and with the gauge package that dash is something else.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    1965 Catalina 2+2 421 3 2bbls, 376 H.P. Positraction.

    A/C, power windows, tilt, AM-FM w/reverb, and any other accessories that were available.

    Yellow, black buckets, 4 speed, red stripe tires.

    Guess I can dream.....?
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