1 of 14? 1963 Pontiac Tempest Super Duty

In 1961, General Motors launched a new series of Y-body compacts, the Buick Special, Oldsmobile F-85, and the Pontiac Tempest (Lemans in top trim). The Tempest departed from the others by adopting a rear-mounted transaxle and independent rear suspension like that used by Chevrolet on the Corvair. This resulted in a light car that caught the attention of drag racers and 14 are said to have been built for that purpose with 421 Super Duty V8 engines. The seller says this non-running car is one of the five that are known to survive. Located in Belgrade, Montana, a starting bid of $5,000 has been cast here on eBay, there is a reserve, but $7,500 is the Buy It Now price.

In 1963, GM placed a short-lived ban on all factory-supported racing, which left the 421-powered Catalinas out in the cold. Looking for Plan B, racer Mickey Thompson went to the Royal Pontiac dealership in Royal Oak, Michigan to put Super Duty 421s into modified compact Tempests to compete in the NHRA’s Factory Experimental class. Thinking this could be a workaround to the GM ban, Pontiac approved the production of two ‘63 Super Duty Tempest coupe prototypes and a dozen production models (six Tempest LeMans coupes and six Tempest wagons). Somehow, the seller’s car is reported to be one of those coupes.

The quirkiness of the Tempest included its use of a ¾ inch flexible-steel driveshaft that connected the crankshaft in Pontiac’s standard big 4-cylinder engine (essentially half of a 389 V-8) to the rear-mounted transaxle, running in a curved “torque tube.” The setup allowed a flat floor inside the car. Since all the Pontiac’s V8 blocks were the same size, a 421 would work there as well. Pontiac built a 4-speed version of the Tempest’s 2-speed automatic transmission for the job, called the PowerShift, which replaced the torque converter with a hydraulic clutch on the tail end. The clutch was used to engage first and reverse, and the driver manually shifted into second through fourth. To make room for the longer tranny, the fuel tank was cut in half and the battery was moved to the trunk for the 14.

How the seller came to have this car is unknown, as well as the rest of its history. We assume the 421 is under the hood, but the photos don’t show a lot of detail. We’re told the interior resembles that of a Corvette, but the seller is mistaken. Looks more like a Corvair inside to me and the interior is in okay condition but could use a restoration. What we see of the body mostly displays surface rust. All the SD Tempests were painted white with blue interiors.

While not currently running the seller says that the oil pan needs replacing as well as the gas tank, and the brakes could use some help. As well. Otherwise, it “should run like new”. Considering that the 421 was a V8 and the eBay listing indicates a V4, I’m not sure I’d be that comfortable about the mechanical condition of the car at this stage.

A photo of the transaxle via the trunk would be great to provide, but the seller does not, so we have slotted one here from Hagerty. Also, more than 52,000 miles are reported on the odometer, which would be a lot for a car that was built to go from 0-60 at the speed of sound. The VIN provided in the listing identifies the car as a Catalina, adding a bit to the confusion. So is this really a very rare car or one that is just akin to the “14”?

WANT ADS

WANTED 1950-80’s Alfa Romeo , Aston, AC, Ferrari, Iso, Lamborghini, Lancia, Maserati, etc. Also 66 Toronado, 63-5 Riviera, 70-72 Firebird, round headlight Studebaker Avanti, and XK120 SE roadster Any condition, anywhere, instant top cash, finders fee happily paid- thanks! Contact

WANTED 1988-1989 Chrysler Conquest TSI Wanted. Prefer Red. Will travel nationwide for vehicle. Contact

WANTED 1966 Buick Riviera GS Ready to buy now!….. 66, Riviera GS. Jerry: 303 663 3963 Contact

WANTED 1973-77 Pontiac Gran Prix wheel well trim pieces for rear Contact

WANTED 1968 Dodge charger looking for a 1968 440 R T charger half way decent looking. dont have to be a R T Contact

Submit Your Want Ad

Comments

  1. BlondeUXB Member

    Somehow the price does not reflect the rarity of the “real thing”…

    Like 16
    • Will Fox

      One of the last things listed is that all the 421 Tempests were white with blue interiors. This car’s interior is black.

      Like 14
      • Steves55place@aol.com

        My buddy had one with a 326 in it, same engine as the 421. I would really research this one.

        Like 1
    • Glenn Stanford

      One can easily find out if this Tempest is really 1 of the 14 factory 421’s. That information is available through the Pontiac Historical Society (PHS) at a cost of $85. http://www.phs-online.com/

      Like 4
  2. PaulG

    Hard as I try, I’m not seeing it, maybe it’s something the seller is trying to pass off as something it isn’t…Sure isn’t a factory built racer with an A/C compressor and a 2 barrel carb on what appears to be a 4 cyl.
    If this were an actual 1 of 14 I imagine it being priced much higher.

    Like 48
  3. Bill

    Looks like a standard 63′ Tempest to me, nothing special.

    Like 26
    • Tom

      I agree Bill. Those cars were built for one purpose; to dominate the quarter mile. None of them were ever equipped with A/C.
      And where’s the weird Ford dump truck hood scoop?
      If it was a real SD it would be priced closer to $75,000 than the buy it now price of $7500. Not believing this one for a second…

      Like 4
      • Bob

        I was going to mention the Ford truck hood scoop turned around forward.Another time and cost saving idea. Imagine, a Ford part with a GM part number!

  4. Darrun

    “We assume the 421 is under the hood, but the photos don’t show a lot of detail.”

    Is that not a single barrel, or possibly two barrel carb? Aren’t the left 4 cylinders missing?

    Ii like it, but I don’t think it’s a Super Duty,

    Like 21
    • Al Clark

      In the Ebay ad its obviously a single barrel carb on an original 4 banger. Maybe too much wacky tabaky when he made the ad.

      Like 1
  5. geezerglide85

    I read the entire ad and he never said it was a Super Duty, has or had a 421. I think he’s just confused as to what he does have. Maybe he thinks there were only 17 Lemans made?

    Like 10
    • SubGothius

      Now he says only “1 of 14 ever made and only 5 of these Tempest Lemans exist Right now” — maybe he’s talking about this particular combination of colors/options? If there was any mention of the Super Duty before, it’s not there now, maybe edited to remove.

      Posting eBay listings can be strange, as they “helpfully” try to suggest pre-populating info from other similar items posted previously, so maybe that’s where any (now-deleted) Super Duty references came from.

  6. Sporty

    It’s a Super doody.

    Like 39
  7. Raymond

    Solid tempest, won’t find another, someone buy it

    Like 4
    • Steve Douglas Member

      I agree. I don’t think it’s what it’s speculated to be, but it’s still a hot looking little car in solid condition for a resto. And if it’s not legit, just make it a “tribute” car and stick whatever you want in it. But that fender badge up front says “Le Mans” clear as day.

      Like 3
  8. Hotrodjon

    1st off, it’s not a Tempest, just look at the tail lights, they had two round ones on each side. SD, I don’t think so.

    Like 3
    • Steve Douglas Member

      The driver’s side fender badge says “Le Mans” big as life.

      Like 2
  9. Don Eladio

    Is this a joke? The author cannot be this naive.

    Like 5
    • sinned96

      The kid is 18 he doesn’t really know anything about the car

      Like 3
  10. DON

    I don’t see anywhere in the ebay ad that it says “421 super duty” or that is in any way a performance car, what I did notice is that it is listed as a 4 wheel drive car. If Pontiac built this car as one of its “super duty” cars, it most definitely would not have air conditioning.

    Like 2
  11. Bud Heffley

    The photos show a 4 cylinder with a 2 bbl carb. I had a ’62 with a 4 cylinder with a factory 4 bbl. I rebuilt my half of a 389 with a 389 cam lifter kit and bored . 030 over, it ran like a scalded dog! The rare Super Duty edition came with a 421 with dual 4 bbl carbs. It did use the transaxle set up, but it was totally different than the 2 speed power glide. This car is definitely not 1 of 24, but for the price it is a great deal!

    Like 7
    • Bob

      The trans was basically two Corvair Powerglides hooked end to end with a clutch instead of a torque converter. Once you clutched it off the line you just shifted it without the clutch.

      • Bob

        A very interesting time in the US auto industry,

  12. Abi

    “interior is in great condition”
    ?? What? Stitching torn on both front seats, shredded up padding on the floor suggests mice have been busy, the carpet is tore away from the floor, the steering wheel is all cracked, the dash chrome is all pitted – and that’s only what you can see from the 2 crappy pictures.

    Like 4
  13. George Mattar

    My dad bought a new silver Tempest. This is an a/c car no SD. Either seller is dumb or a scammer. If you want to know if this is REALLY an SD contact Scott Tiemman.

    Like 5
    • Steve Douglas Member

      …or just read the fender badge up front?

      Like 2
  14. 4spdBernie 4spdBernie Member

    The ONLY real SD on the ebay sold for half a mil, a few years ago, you guys remember that car.

    Like 1
    • Sparky

      It sold for 226K (unrestored & missing original engine). Still a solid payday for a car the owner threw up on eBay on a whim instead of scrapping it.

      Like 3
      • Gary Rhodes

        I remember that car. No motor, non original steel front clip (it was aluminum originally I believe) and a $250.00 starting bid if I remember correctly. I bet the owner crapped his pants when the bidding went over 10k and a coronary when it hit 200k. I really don’t think he knew what it was.

        Like 3
  15. Ron Baker

    I sent the seller an email via eBay. He responded quickly. I pointed out it’s not a 421 Super Duty Tempest and he agrees. He blamed eBay for changing the wording of his ad. hmmm that’s never happened to me.

  16. Steve Brown

    Nice old Tempest that seems fairly priced for what it is.

    Like 2
  17. Bob Daykin

    Do the research. There are several tells for a legit SD Tempest. Colors are correct so far, but is not necessarily a perfect indicator. All the VINS are known, and this car will have one of those numbers. The last ‘barn find’ was traced to the original owners in Detroit – chances of the PowerShift turning up are slight, though. Mickey built his own Tempest in ’62; has a factory car in ’63 before bolting to Ford.

    Name *Ragtop Man

    Email *redchief66@sbcglobal.net

    Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.

    customer.

    Like 2
  18. jerry z

    Must be a 1 of none! A Super Duty with A/C? C’mon man!

    Like 2
  19. Jim

    Tempest used the new slant-four that engineers derived from half of a Pontiac 389-cu.in. V-8. Not only was the resulting 194.5-cu.in. engine simple to produce, but it offered surprising power and torque. The base “Trophy Four,” Pontiac’s first-ever four-cylinder, used a single-barrel carburetor and offered 110- to 140-hp and 190- to 207-ft.-lbs. of torque, depending on the camshaft and compression ratio used. With an optional four-barrel carburetor, the engine made 155hp and an impressive 215 ft.-lbs. of torque

    Like 2
  20. Jim

    Here’s some specs on the engines in these cars. I drove a 62,slant 4 ,4 barrel,3 speed and it would spin those 15″ tires about a block. Had to use premium gas on 4 barrel version.. Tempest used the new slant-four that engineers derived from half of a Pontiac 389-cu.in. V-8. Not only was the resulting 194.5-cu.in. engine simple to produce, but it offered surprising power and torque. The base “Trophy Four,” Pontiac’s first-ever four-cylinder, used a single-barrel carburetor and offered 110- to 140-hp and 190- to 207-ft.-lbs. of torque, depending on the camshaft and compression ratio used. With an optional four-barrel carburetor, the engine made 155hp and an impressive 215 ft.-lbs. of torque

    Like 3
  21. Sparky

    • Built in CA; all SD cars were built in the home plant in MI.
    • Factory A/C eliminates it from being an SD car, as does the aforementioned black interior.

    It’s a regular production, A/C-equipped 4-cylinder LeMans coupe. One of about 30K built, or one of 7400 built as a 4-cylinder.

    Like 5
  22. Dave

    This was a very interesting read-the editorial and the comments. No idea these tempests were built as such albeit this is not one of them. I tried to pry away a great shape 66 tempest coupe with a v8 and 4 speed in 2006 for 10k from an owner to no avail.

    Like 1
    • Dave

      From a purely engineering viewpoint, building the Super Duty version of this car certainly would have exposed all of its shortcomings. The next year the car was bigger, stronger, and the rope drive was history. But…
      The story I read about the genesis of the GTO said that John DeLorean was testing a car with a 326 and someone said that they could put a 389 in it in 20 minutes. Why stop there? They already had experience with the 421 so why not go there? Around here there were more than a few GTOs with junkyard 421s under the hood. When Ford was selling 428s and Mopar was selling 440s those 421/428 Goats gave them a run for the money.

      Like 4
  23. Lowell Peterson

    Sporty nailed it! Metal wizard Wayne Williams used to hand fab Super Duty sheet metal from aluminum The last full body I saw him do was a 550RSK.in Orange Ca in the ’70’s-90’s. In the late ’80’s a bumper for full sized Pontiac could be had for $3500. Fenders and hoods a bit more. Real SD in this shape $225k plus would be a great start.

    Like 1
  24. RoughDiamond RoughDiamond Member

    This comment may be referring the same car commented on earlier or I could have my details confused. I remember a white Pontiac Tempest (short body style) on eBay several years ago that I recall had a past connection to Arnie “Farmer” Beswick that had some kind of a rear chain drive transmission or something quirky about the drivetrain. It looked like it had been drug out of one of those common metal door multi-unit concrete floor storage spaces and onto a non-paved area of ground and photographed on the spot. I remember that car brought over 200K.

    Like 1
  25. Robert G Cleveland

    A purpose-built drag racer with an air conditioning compressor? I don’t think so.

  26. Dan Milem

    Didn’t the 421 badges front and sides come on these cars

  27. stanley kwiecinski

    and that folks is why i drink when i read Barn Finds!

    Like 7
    • Joe Sewell

      LMAO! Truth…

      Like 1
    • Chris Webster

      And when I’m not reading Barn Finds!

  28. sinned96

    I can’t believe barn finds actually ran this nonsense. The kid is 18 he doesn’t know much about the car just what he’s read on the internet

    Like 1
  29. Glenn Stanford

    Barn Finds have lost a lot of credibility on this one. This is not one of the 421 Tempests.

    Like 1
    • Mountainwoodie

      Dude- BF just puts the cars up for readers to have their whack at it if it warrants. The seller corrected the ad somewhat though he called it a V4. What 2 cylinders on each angle?

      This part I love:

      “has a transaxle transmission mounted in the trunk”

      LOL! That would be something. That it has been bid to 5K is just nuts! Everybody put down the pipe!

      Like 6
      • Tom

        At least the entertainment value is good! It’s not even close to what the seller originally claimed it to be, but all things considered it’s easily worth the asking price if the body is as solid as it appears to be. It will likely end up being an SD clone

  30. Grease

    If you are new at it – think long and hard before you ante up on this car. Really is zero proof it is as advertised!

  31. Duaney

    Another thrilling fact is that usually the speedometer cable driveshaft is usually broke, and there’s none available.

  32. TouringFordor

    The listing is corrected, except what is this??
    “not drivable due to 3 issues, the first being the compression system needs to be reset”

    Like 1
  33. Mountainwoodie

    So I had a ’63 Lemans V8 convertible with a dash mounted auto.

    One of the best balanced cars to drive. I had it some twenty years ago traded it for.a 67 P Car Targa that was fast as snot. A long story and a cautionary tale about how I came into possession of the LeMans though. So caveat emptor. They are a pleasing shape as a convertible, As a coupe..meh.

    I dont know about this one but caveat emptor.

  34. Mountainwoodie

    Dude-

    BF just puts the cars up for readers to have their whack at it if it warrants. The seller corrected the ad somewhat though he called it a V4. What 2 cylinders on each angle?

    This part I love:

    “has a transaxle transmission mounted in the trunk”

    LOL! That would be something. That it has been bid to 5K is just nuts! Everybody put down the pipe!

    Like 1
    • sinned96

      The transmission is in the rear on the transaxle. Not in the trunk

      Like 1
  35. Joe Sewell

    Previous commenters nailed this. Just tell the truth about this car when posting for sale to get the best results.

    Like 1
  36. Dennis

    I would love to have one of the 421 versions. I watched a sports car race where the track was in the infield of a big oval. Part of the race was on the oval and a 421 Tempest was entered. I recall a photo of the beginning of the race there was the Tempest and a BIG gap before the rest of the field. It did suffer a bit in the windy bits.

    Like 1
  37. Bruce Fulper

    100% NOT an SD.

  38. Utes

    I say if it’s to be brought ‘back to life’, bring it back like THIS!
    http://www.1963pontiac.com/images/literature/book1_3a.jpg

    Like 1
  39. Tony Shelton

    I remember reading an article in, I believe, Hot Rod magazine about the Tempest Super Duty cars when they were first built (yes, I’m that old). I seem to remember the one covered in the article belonged to Arnie Beswick. The four-speed was actually created from two Powerglides and they did split the cars 50/50 between coupes and wagons.

    Like 2

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.

*

Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.