Pontiac Catalina 2. Generation 421 Super Duty Hardtop Lightweight 1963

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Catalina 2. Generation 421 Super Duty Hardtop Lightweight 1963





The 1961 full-sized Pontiacs were completely restyled with more squared-off bodylines, the reintroduction of the split grille first seen in 1959 and dropped for 1960 and an all-new Torque-Box perimeter frame with side rails replacing the "X" frame chassis used since 1958. The new frame not only provides greater side-impact protection than the "X" design but also improves interior roominess.

The distinctive protruding grille made its appearance on all Pontiac products during the early 1960s, and was a modern revival of a similar appearance on Pontiac products during the 1930s and early 1940s, as demonstrated on the Pontiac Torpedo.

Rooflines are more squared off on four-door models with the six-window styling dropped on pillared sedans and wider C-pillars with flat rear windows on four-door hardtops. A revised version of the 1959-60 "bubbletop" roof was used on two-door hardtops. Wrap-around windshields were dropped in favor of flatter glass work for improved entry and exit to the front seat.

The new body is somewhat smaller and lighter than the 1960 model with the wheelbase down three inches (76 mm) to 119, overall length reduced by the same to 210 in (5,300 mm) and width dropping nearly two inches to 78.2 from 80 in (2,032.0 mm) 1960. The front and rear track of the 1961-62 Pontiac was reduced to 62.5 in (1,590 mm) front and rear. The 1961 Pontiac was advertised as "all Pontiac...on a new wide track."

All engines were again 389 cu in (6.4 L) V8s as in previous years. Standard engines are two-barrel units rated at 215hp (160 kW) with the three-speed manual transmission or 267hp (199 kW) with the optional Hydramatic, with a 230hp (170 kW) regular-fuel economy V8 offered as a no-cost option with the Hydramatic. Offered as extra-cost options were more powerful versions of the 389 including a 303hp (226 kW) version with a four-barrel carburetor or 318hp (237 kW) Tri-Power option. New to the options list were two higher performance versions of the 389, including a four-barrel 333hp (248 kW) unit and a 348hp (260 kW) Tri-Power option, both with higher, 10.75:1, compression ratios. A 363hp (271 kW) engine was offered to drag racers. Late in the '61 season the 421 cu in (6.9 L) Super Duty was released for sale.

A new three-speed Roto Hydramatic automatic transmission replaced the previous four-speed unit for 1961. The new transmission is slimmer and lighter than the older four-speed Hydramatic, which was continued on the larger Star Chief and Bonneville models. Also new for 1961 was a four-speed manual transmission with Hurst floor shifter, available on special order.

The 1962 Pontiacs received a heavy facelift from the 1961 design with more rounded body contours and new rooflines on two-door hardtops featuring convertible-like bows. Catalina sedans and coupes got a 1-inch (25 mm) wheelbase increase, after spending 1961 on a 119-inch (3,000 mm) length shared with full-sized Chevys (Safari wagons retained the 119-inch (3,000 mm) wheelbase through 1964).

Most regular engine and transmission offerings were carried over from 1961 with the 389 cu in (6.4 L) Trophy V8, ranging in power ratings from 215hp (160 kW) to 348hp (260 kW). A small number of 1962 Catalinas and other Pontiacs were built with a "non-street able" 421 cu in (6.9 L) Super Duty V8 with two four-barrel carburetors and 405hp (302 kW), as a US$2,250 option (when the base Catalina listed at US$2,725), along with various "over the counter" performance options offered by Pontiac including aluminum bumpers and even lighter frames with drilled holes (which were dubbed the "Swiss cheese" frames).

For 1963, Catalinas and other full-sized Pontiacs featured cleaner, squared-off bodylines and vertical headlights flanking the split grille, but retained the same dimensions and basic body shell of 1961-62 models. Engine offerings were revised as the 333hp (248 kW) and 348hp (260 kW) versions of the 389 V8 were dropped in favor of "production" versions of the larger 421 cu in (6.9 L) rated at 338 horsepower (252 kW) with four-barrel carburetor, 353hp (263 kW) with Tri-Power, or a 370hp (280 kW) "HO" with Tri-Power . The 405hp (302 kW) Super Duty 421 was still offered to racing teams during the early portion of the model year but discontinued after General Motors ordered Pontiac (and Chevrolet) to "cease and desist" from factory-supported racing efforts in February 1963. New options for 1963 included a tilt steering wheel that could be adjusted to six different positions, AM/FM radio and cruise control.

It was war. The early 1960s found American automobile manufacturers realizing the importance of ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday,’ and they pulled out all of the stops to show their wares. Ford funneled millions into auto competition, Chrysler surged forward with ground-breaking engineering ideas, and GM’s Pontiac and Chevrolet divisions were all in on both circle-track and drag-racing programs. For 1963, Chevrolet chose to approach drag racing with its new 427 CI Z11 engine in Super Stock, while Pontiac would release specially built over-the-counter cars for both Stock and the exploding Factory Experimental ranks, using the Super Duty Catalina model as its ‘stock’ entry with an extensive list of optional components and factory changes.

Pontiac was able to release just 14 so-called ‘Swiss Cheese’ Catalinas. This handful of cars, offered as ‘stockers’ on paper, were legendary in that they took advantage of any and all efforts at weight reduction. This included removing one lateral brace of the rectangular frame rails and hole-saw drilling the remaining section, which resulted in the ‘Swiss Cheese’ nickname. Other lightening efforts were numerous aluminum body panels and components and parts deletes, enough to get the cars down into the 3,300-pound range and 12-second quarter-mile times.

A 1963 Catalina convertible modified by California hot-rodder Bill Straub was used as a tow vehicle in the NASA M2-F1 program.

Mild facelifting including new grilles and taillights highlighted the 1964 full-sized Pontiacs. Engine and transmission offerings were unchanged from 1963 except for a new GM-built Muncie four-speed manual replacing the Borg-Warner T-10 unit. Also new for 1964, was the 2+2 option package available on Catalina two-door hardtops and convertibles that included bucket seats, heavy-duty suspension and other performance equipment, along with the same selection of 389 cu in (6.4 L) and 421 cu in (6.9 L) V8s found in other Catalinas.

Sold for: 430000 USD
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