No Limits Magazine from the Auto History Preservation Society
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Friday January 16, 2015
Pontiac - the Performance Years. Also: Tech Section, News, Period Ads, Road Tests, Brochures, & Magazines!

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1955 Olds F-88

1954 Olds F-88 Sports Car
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The first Mustang- 1965

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1965 Pontiac 2+2 and GTO Ad

The Paper Chase Part 1
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Morris 1959 Ford Fairlane

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1954 Olds F-88

1954 Olds F-88 Sports Car
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1963 Cobra Ad


The Cobra Story - a Focused View
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From the Automotive History Preservation Society
The Pontiac Performance Years
1968 GTO COTY Ad
The 1968 Pontiac GTO won the 1968 Motor Trend Car of the Year Award

1962 Pontiac Grand Prix

The 1962 Pontiac Grand Prix set the standard for Pontiac
performance cars of the 60s - fast, dramatic looking and classy
.

1965 Pontiac 2+2

As the Grand Prix moved upscale, the 2+2 fell into that slot.
Some of the hottest big cars ever were Pontiac 2+2s
.

1967 Firebird

Introduced in 1967, the Firebird carried the Pontiac
Performance image for the "Pony Car" segment - with distinction
.

1965 Pontiac Performance Options

No other manufacturer offered more performance parts and options than Pontiac in the 60s. shifters, wheels, engines, gauges, seats, brakes, multiple carbs - you name it.

1965 Pontiac Performance Options

Pontiac performance = John DeLorean.
No other single person can be considered responsible for Pontiac's performance image than John.

By Society Staff – reprint with permission only

Pontiac GTO - 1964-1974
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the history of the Pontiac GTO is that it was never supposed to exist. In 1959 a mandate had been passed down from the highest levels of General Motors: No high performance cars. Nothing that implies racing, period.

In the early '50s, Pontiac had an old fashioned image as a manufacturer of conservative, basic transportation, and sales were suffering because of it. There were even plans to kill off the division entirely.

Pontiac's salvation was clear: build a performance image. It proceeded to do so, and by 1962, the desired results - increased sales - were a reality.

Continuation of the success seemed doomed with the infamous January 24, 1963 memo from GM brass which banned all racing activities. The rule stated that all cars would have to weigh ten or more pounds per cubic inch of engine displacement. Even as the memo was being written, work was underway to put a 389 cubic inch motor in the Pontiac Tempest, which at about 3400 lbs., would be in clear violation of the edict. Leading the effort was Pontiac chief engineer John DeLorean.

But by making the GTO an option package for the Pontiac Tempest and not standard equipment, it was considered to fall into a loophole in the policy. Pontiac General Manager Elliot "Pete" Estes approved the new model, although sales manager Frank Bridge, who did not believe it would find a market, insisted on limiting initial production to 5,000 cars . . .
MORE on the GTO HERE.

Pontiac Grand Prix - 1962-1970
Picking up where the Pontiac Ventura model left off, the Grand Prix first appeared in the Pontiac line for 1962. It was essentially a standard Pontiac Catalina coupe with minimal outside chrome trim and a sportier interior (bucket seats and a center console).

As a sport luxury car, both Pontiac and Buick came to the party after Oldsmobile, which had offered the "Starfire" as a convertible in 1961, but it would be Pontiac who would tie the luxury and sport together with the essential ingredient - performance. The Grand Prix did the job so much better than the others that the car would always be considered more a performance car than a luxo-cruiser, even well after the performance flame went out at GM.

The performance-minded John DeLorean, then the head of Advanced Engineering at Pontiac, contributed greatly to the development of both the Grand Prix and the GTO. Early models had full access to the Pontiac performance option list, including the factory-race Super Duty 421 power train installed in a handful of 1962 and 1963 cars.

The personal/luxury Grand Prix returned for its second year in 1963. The GP received an exclusive backlight (rear window) and tail panel treatment. Once again, the GP was only available in the 2-door hardtop, or Sport Coupe, body style. This would be the largest production year for this B-body-based specialty model. . .
MORE on the Grand Prix HERE

Pontiac 2+2 - 1964-1970
The Pontiac 2+2 was a full-size high performance model that debuted in 1964 as an interior trim option for the Pontiac Catalina, with special door panels, buckets seats, and center console. Pontiac marketed the 2+2 as the "big brother" to the popular LeMans GTO.

Beginning in 1965, the 2+2 became a standalone model, and the name Catalina was no longer found on the car. The 2+2 was given the 421 cubic inch power plant, dual exhaust, heavy duty front springs as well as its own outer body trim appointments. It officially became its own series in 1966, on the same platform, but reverted again to an option in 1967. It was discontinued in the United States that same year due to poor sales, but it continued as a series in Canada until 1970.

The designation 2+2 was borrowed from European sports cars (i.e. Ferrari) with seating for 4: 2 in front plus 2 in the rear. It was designated officially at Pontiac as a "regular performance" model and was intended to be to the Catalina what the GTO was to the LeMans.

Beginning with the 1965 model, the high-compression 421 V8 was standard and mated to a 3-speed manual transmission. A 3-speed automatic and 4-speed manual were optional equipment. Consumers also had the option of ordering an array of induction setups to feed it; a single 4bbl carburetor or Tri-Power. The suspension was stiffened for improved handling with heavy duty springs and front sway bar. Although the 2+2 was discontinued by 1968, all options were still available, and a purchaser could still order what amounted to a 2+2 without the badges . . .
MORE on the 2+2 HERE.

Pontiac Firebird 1967-1974
The first generation Firebirds had a what is called "Coke bottle" styling, and Unlike its cousin, the Chevrolet Camaro, its bumpers were integrated into the design of the front end. Its rear "slit" taillights were inspired by the Pontiac GTO. Both a two-door hardtop and a convertible were offered through the 1969 model year. At first it was said that the car was a "consolation prize" for Pontiac, who had initially wanted to produce a two-seat sports car of its own design, based on the original Banshee concept car.

However, Chevrolet feared such a vehicle would directly compete with Chevrolet's Corvette, and convinced GM brass to only give Pontiac a piece of the pony car market by having them share the F-body platform with Chevrolet. In fact, that market might also have been closed off to Pontiac, but the knowledge that Mercury would soon produce the Cougar sealed the deal.

When introduced, the 1967 base model Firebird came equipped with the OHC inline-6 and a single-barrel carburetor rated at 165 HP. The next model, the Sprint, had a four-barrel carburetor equipped SOHC Six, developing 215 HP. Most buyers opted for one of the upscale engines: the 326 CID V8 with a two-barrel carburetor producing 250 HP, or the 350 CID V8 with a four-barrel carburetor producing 285 HP. Further up the scale was the 400 CID V8 borrowed from the GTO with 325 HP . . .
MORE on the Firebird HERE.

To read more about Pontiac's Performance Years - Click HERE

To see Pontiac Performance Road Tests - Click HERE and pick your favorite year

To see the Pontiac Brochures - Click HERE and pick your favorite year

To see Pontiac Performance Ads - Click HERE and pick your favorite year

Learn More About Pontiac Performance Engines - Click HERE


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