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1960's Pontiacs



  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 9,654
    Was there a '70 Bonneville Brougham convertible? Also, I always wondered why you could get a '69 full-size Pontiac with bucket seats, but not a console. Chevy, Buick, and Olds all offered buckets and console in their full-size cars that year.

    Also, I remember '68 Grand Prix models having door panels that were just like the standard Bonneville door panels...not having the extensions in front of the armrest with the power window switches.
  • And there were other certain tricks to discourage new-car buyers from ordering a manual transmission by placing certain "restrictions" on stick-shift models. From 1966 to 1970, a full-sized Buick LeSabre or Wildcat ordered with the column-shift 3-speed manual was only available with manual steering and brakes, and options such as a tilt steering wheel and even air conditioning was not available with the "stick" - If you wanted power steering and brakes, or a tilt wheel in a big Buick - you had to pony up for the Super Turbine 300 or Turbo Hydra-matic 400 transmissions.

    Pontiac like many competitors also made certain engine options only available with automatic transmissions such as the non-HO 455 available in a '71-72 GTO or Firebird Formula - though base engines and many HO engines could be had with a 4-speed stick (some even with a 3-speed). In a '73 GTO, the base 400 4-bbl could be had with either a 3- or 4-speed manual with Hurst shifter along with the Turbo Hydra-matic, but the optional 455 4-V (not the Super Duty 455 listed as an option but then only made available late in year on Firebird Formula or Trans Am) was only offered with the Turbo 400.

    You had to be a really hearty shift-for-yourself fan to get a 1973 Chevrolet Monte Carlo with a 3-speed manual shift. To get a stick Monte, you had to "special order" a stripped base Monte Carlo which came only with the standard 350 2-bbl engine and bias-ply tires, plus the 3-speed. With this car, options were limited as air condtioning, power windows, or even optional engines were not offered.
    If you wanted your Monte Carlo with the Turbo Hydra-matic, the extra cost of the Turbo upgraded you to the Monte Carlo S which also added radial tires and tuned suspension similar to Pontiac's Grand Am, plus variable-ratio power steering. And with the Monte Carlo S, you could order many extras not offered with the base stick-shift car including air, power windows, a 350 or 454 4-bbl engine, and a floor console if you got the swiveling Strato bucket seats. And the Monte Carlo Landau package was offered only with the "S" that added a rear quarter vinyl roof, Landau emblems and Turbine II wheels.

    For 1974 and 1975, Chevy dropped the base Monte and simply made the 3-M transmission standard on S and Landau Monte Carlos - but only with the base 350 2-bbl and not for sale in California due to the stricter emission requirements. Though the stick was listed as standard both years, Chevrolet sources indicate that all 1974 and 1975 Monte Carlos were sold with the Turbo Hydra-matic transmission, which finally became standard in 1976.
  • No Bonneville Brougham convertible was offered in 1970. Only the base Bonnie was offered as a ragtop and only with expanded Morrokide upholstery - no leather as in previous years, and the successor Grand Ville ragtops of 1971-75 also only came with expanded Morrokide vinyl trim - no leather. Strato buckets were an extra-cost options on '69 Catalina and Bonneville coupes and convertibles - but no console was available - presumably to direct sporty buyers to the Grand Prix or smaller Pontiacs such as LeMans, GTO and Firebird.
  • A '66 Olds Toronado would have had the "Ultra High Compression" Super Rocket 425 cid V8 with Rochester QuadraJet four-barrel carburetor, 10.5 to 1 compression ratio, and 385 horsepower, mated to a Turbo Hydra-matic 425 transmission.
  • One of the very few examples of a Detroit-built car emphasizing a base sticker price in its advertising was the '64 1/2 Ford Mustang, which sold for $2,368 FOB Detroit. This was of course before federal, state and local taxes were added, along with extra-cost options. Hardly any customers drove home in a new Mustang for that price unless he went to the factory in Dearborn and purchased it, and it was bare-bones six-cylinder car with no options. Even a stripped Mustang, as well equipped in base form (compared to a base Falcon or a base Tempest) wasn't much of a car. Sure it had bucket seats, carpeting, vinyl interior, full wheel covers, padded dash, and floor shifter - but the Mustang six was a pretty slow car with a 101 horsepower 170 cubic inch six, a 3-on-the-floor tranny with no synchronized first gear, no radio, unpadded sun visors, a T-handle parking brake, manual steering and brakes, and small brakes at that - covered by 13-inch wheels with four lug nuts.
  • Also offering bucket seats with center console in big cars for 1969 were Ford in the XL and even the regular Galaxie 500 coupes and convertibles, the Mercury Marauder and X-100, Plymouth Sport Fury, Dodge Polara 500 and Monaco 500, and all three Chrysler entries including Newport coupes and convertibles, and New Yorker coupes, and standard on 300 coupes and convertibles. On the Chrysler products the bucket seats could be ordered with either a shift console or a center cushion and folding armrest to permit 6-passenger seating.

    Pontiac did still offer a 2+2 model in 1969 (and again in '70) based on the Parisienne coupe and convertible. The Strato bucket seats and console in those cars were exactly the same that was offered in the U.S. on the '69 Impala SS coupe and convertible. This car was also unusual for a Pontiac as the automatic console-shift was the horseshoe shifter common to Chevrolets and Buicks of that time.
  • The Pontiac 2+2 offering for 1969-70, I forgot to mention was only offered in Canada - on the Parisienne series, which was basically a Pontiac body shortened to a Chevrolet chassis and even had the same engines and transmissions as their Chevy counterparts.
    The '70 2+2 outlasted Chevy's Impala SS by another year (both U.S. and Canada) as that was dropped after 1969 along with the availability of a four-speed with Hurst shifter, Strato bucket seats or a console in any Impala or Caprice coupe or convertible. Pontiac offered the Strato bucket seats as a "stand-alone" option with no console on Catalina and Bonneville coupes and convertibles only in 1969 but dropped them for '70.

    Also, Cadillac still offered bucket seats as an option in 1969 on Coupe De Ville hardtops and convertibles. Ordering the bucket seats (for approximately $200 and including a short consolette) also required the buyer to pony up another $250 or so for leather upholstery in the coupe (leather was standard on the al fresco de Ville), but these were never very popular and dropped for '70.

    No 1971-76 GM full-sized B- or C-body cars were offered with bucket seats, Strato or otherwise, or a console for that matter. There were special option cars that included 40/40 seats and consolette such as the '74 Cadillac Coupe de Ville Tailsman and the '75-76 Buick Electra Park Avenue - but nothing with a full-length shift console. The closest thing to a big GM car to still offer bucket seats and a console in this era was the '71-76 Buick Riviera (boattail 71-73 and the choppedtail 74- 76).

    Other than the 'Riv, if you wanted a GM car with bucket seats, you had to step down at least in size to the intermediate personal-luxury cars including Grand Prix, Monte Carlo, or the regular intermediates including the Chevelle, LeMans, Cutlass and Skylark. Ford and Mercury also dropped the availability of buckets and consoles in big cars after '70, though the larger Chrysler products still offered then through 1971.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    I'm guessing the Pontiac 2+2 in Canada more or less equated to the Impala SS in the States?
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 9,654
    That was my understanding of the 2+2 in the Canadian market. I think, generally, a Canadian Pontiac was more like Chevy in the GM hierarchy there. I believe Canadian Pontiacs of the '60's could be had with 283's and Powerglide, when U.S. big Pontiacs couldn't.

    Have you ever seen a '67 2+2 Andre? A rare piece for sure. Not crazy about the fender louvers, but it was a 2+2 trademark. One thing I didn't like about '65 and '66 big Ponchos that weren't Grand Prix or Bonneville models, was the black crinkle-vinyl inserts on the instrument panel, no matter what color interior you got. All '67 big Pontiacs had the woodgrain panel. I could really like a '67 2+2 in a rarer color.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    Have you ever seen a '67 2+2 Andre? A rare piece for sure. Not crazy about the fender louvers, but it was a 2+2 trademark.

    Right now my memory's drawing a blank, but I'm sure that I've seen one at some point, either at one of the Spring/Fall Carlisle swap meets, or one of the Hershey/Macungie car shows. At the all GM show in Carlisle though, I'm pretty sure I haven't. Usually there's only 3-4 '67 Pontiacs in that show. One of 'em is my Catalina, and the others are Bonnevilles.

    Those fender louvers don't do anything for me, either way. Probably just another place to gather debris and start rusting, though!
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 9,654
    I saw online that only 1,768 '67 2+2's were built, only one more than 1964 Studebaker Hawks which were only built from August through December 1963--really small nos. for a standard-size GM product of the sixties!
  • blh7068blh7068 Posts: 375
    IIRC, all Canadian Pontiacs were equipped with Chevy engines.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    IIRC, all Canadian Pontiacs were equipped with Chevy engines.

    They were, but at some point, they started phasing in "real" Pontiacs. I think it might have been 1969, when they first started offering Pontiac Bonnevilles in Canada, and they came equipped with Pontiac engines.

    And, in some cases, the Chevy engine was actually an advantage! AB348 once had a '77 LeMans with a Chevy 305. Had that been a US-built Pontiac, it would've had the sucky, troubleprone Pontiac 301!
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    Would've the Canadian Bonneville been called the Parisienne? I guess the Catalina equivalent was the Laurentian.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    edited January 2012
    Would've the Canadian Bonneville been called the Parisienne? I guess the Catalina equivalent was the Laurentian.

    Well in 1969, the Canadian Pontiac lineup went something like this:

    Strato-Chief = Biscayne
    Laurentian = Bel Air
    Parisienne = Impala
    2+2 = Impala SS
    Grande Parisienne = Caprice.

    One notable difference though, is that the Strato-Chief and Laurentian came in 4-door sedan or hardtop 2-door pillared sedan. The Bel Air and Biscayne offered a 2-door sedan, but no hardtops

    Here's a Canadian Pontiac brochure from 1969.

    For contrast, here's a 1976 Canadian Pontiac brochure. By this time, it looks like they were using the longer Pontiac wheelbase, so that business of putting Canadian Pontiacs on the shorter Chevy wheelbase was history. And, it looks like they might have been using Pontiac engines again, judging from the 455 being listed

    Also, by 1976 it looks like the Canadian Pontiac was expanding to fill the same role as an American Chevy and American Pontiac. By this time, the lineup was expanded to:

    Laurentian (probably a Bel Air equivalent)
    Grande Parisienne (maybe a Caprice equivalent?)
    Bonneville Brougham

    I think in some years, in Canada, Pontiac was actually a bigger seller than Chevy, so that might explain the bloated lineup. In the United States, by 1976, Pontiac was struggling to move their big cars.

    For 1978, it looks like Pontiac went to a lineup of Laurentian, Catalina, Parisienne/Parisienne Brougham (1978 Canadian Pontiac brochure, courtesy of

    And, it looks like they went back to using Chevy engines (250 inline-6, 305-2bbl, 350-4bbl, no mention of a 301 or 400). The Catalina and Parisienne look equivalent to the US-spec Catalina and Bonneville, with the exception of the Chevy engines. The Laurentian looks like they used Impala door panels, but took off the woodgrain strip. And, gave it cheaper seat material than what you'd find in an Impala.

    Odd that they'd choose to market two low-level big Pontiacs in Canada by that time. I figure the Catalina would be enough, but I guess they felt there was a need for something cheaper. I wonder if Chevy of Canada was pushing something equivalent by that time, possibly still named Bel Air or Biscayne?
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    I was on vacation in Canada in 1982 and recall seeing what would be the American version of a 1978 Impala badged as a Bel Air on thg C-pillar.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    I just checked the Wikipedia entry for Chevy Bel Air and they do list the Bel Air as going on through 1981 in Canada, along with the Pontiac Laurentian. They also mention a Mercury Marquis Meteor and a Ford Custom 500 being dropped after '81, as well. So, I guess the Canadian market for lower-line big cars persisted a bit longer than it did in the US.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    Back in the day, Canadian Fords were called Meteors, the Canadian Mercuries were Monarchs, and the Falcon was known as a Meteor Frontenac with little red maple leafs on the hubcaps. I think even the Ford trucks were marketed as Mercuries in Canada. Dodge called its Canadian trucks Fargoes.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,920
    edited January 2012
    The odd Canadian Pontiac that I remember seeing when I was younger is this:

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    I think that Canadian Tempest is nicer looking than the Chevy Corsica! There was really no perceived need for something like that here in the US, as we had the Grand Am, and a Corsica twin badged as a Pontiac would have just been too close.

    But, it's interesting that they had that much overlap in Canada, and allowed it to go on for so long.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,920
    I think the wheel design matches well with the car. I remember back in the day we had a Corsica rental car in that same color. I guess the Pontiac brand had widely believed cachet in Canada.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 9,654
    My late parents' last new car was an '89 Corsica which reminds me of that Tempest, although the lower color was silver instead of dark gray (dark gray looks nicer I think). 2.8 V6, column-shift automatic. I tried to be excited for Dad, but he traded in an '84 Monte Carlo 305 V8 with Rally Wheels and 41K miles for it. Should have kept the Monte!
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,920
    When I was younger, some senior citizen friends of the family had a Corsica 5-door....not many of those around anymore. Even then they were odd.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    Those Pontiac wheels really do dress up that Corsica. My friend briefly had a Corsica that I thought was so cheaply and carelessly assembled I called it a Coarse-ica.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,920
    I'd guess the 4cyl models could be pretty unrefined. I remember our rental was a moderately equipped 3.1, didn't seem like a bad car for what it was.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 9,654
    I had a new '90 Corsica 4-cyl. 5-speed for 108K miles and 6 1/2 years. It sat out all the time, in all kind of weather, including snow, and was a good car. My parents had a 3.1 V6 Corsica and while it was faster, you could tell it was heavier over the front steered harder and you had your feet in the brakes more to stop it, than our 4-cyl. The V6's then (and we also had a new '89 Beretta GT 2.8 V6), had a distinctive rasp. To this day I could still identify one blindfolded if it drove past me.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 9,654
    Someone earlier mentioned buckets and console going away in big Fords after '70. I'll have to look online, but I'm pretty certain I've seen pics of a '71 LTD convertible with buckets and console. I'll have to check the Old Car Manual Project online when I'm off work.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,920
    edited January 2012
    I drove the Corsica a few times, don't recall much but it seemed smooth and even a little plush. I always loathed the 2.8 and 3.1 exhaust note - I remember back in the day, someone in the neighborhood had a new 89 or so GP, and it sounded like a popcorn popper on steroids. An older lady my mom knew had a then-new Lumina which also sounded pretty rough. While an old guy (Pearl Harbor survivor even) my dad knew had a then new Accord wagon that seemed like it had an electric motor under the hood.
  • berriberri Posts: 7,743
    I always found the Corsica and Baretta kind of cheap looking and feeling. I recall the bucket seats always moving around when I had them set all the way back. l know many may disagree, but I much preferred the earlier X cars as rentals. I thought, for the times, they road more comfortably and were nicer inside. I think Pontiac's undoing was when they went to all this chintzy gimmicky stuff like game console dashboards and red lights.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,920
    I don't recall ever riding in an X-car. I knew a jerky kid in high school who had one, and another kid in college who had a really neglected one.

    I think Pontiac lost it with all the 90s body cladding.
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