1963 Pontiac Bonneville: Employee Special

Pontiac Wagon

I’ve never gone through the new car buying process at GM, but I’ve heard the list of options can be somewhat overwhelming. In other words, it isn’t as if there’s one or two packages to choose from; instead, buyers can configure their cars in a myriad of ways. Well, this 1963 Pontiac Bonneville on eBay for $5,000 is living proof of that concept, and it was originally sold as a “991 Dealer Zone” car – meaning it went straight to a Pontiac employee instead of the car lot. This might explain the overwhelming list of options, from a power antenna to 8-lug wheels to a luggage rack! I dig the weathered paint and the preservation of some of these period accessories, but the lack of an original engine or front bench seat are bummers. This is one of those cars that should be put back to OEM condition, in my opinion, given its unusual heritage. Would you rat-rod this Bonneville or restore it to resemble the day it rolled off the assembly line?

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. JW

    Restore it to original then head out on the highway with the family to Walley World, not the same car but the same experience.

  2. Scott Farrington

    Zone rep cars were just that: Zone Reps. They went to the dealers with their cars to explain/show the options available to the sales staff. Think of them as training tools for the staff of dealerships. This is why they were usually fully loaded top end models. I know of a ’58 Chevrolet Wagon that has every conceivable convenience on board, including air ride. It too was a zone rep car.

  3. Ed P

    I have factory ordered cars from GM & Chrysler. GM allowed you to order each option usually independent of a package. What has me scratching my head is the 8 lug wheels. That sounds like a truck option. I’ve never seen these on a car. The Magic Marker shift indicator is a hoot. I think I would pass on this one. To many changes.

    • PaulG

      Ed P, the 8 lug wheels were used mostly on Pontiac Grand Prix’s. If you look closely at the rims, the lugs are spaced along the outer edge of the wheel.
      Also wanted to ad, this is a cool find, and you have to love old wagons…

      • Ed P

        Thanks PaulG, now I see the lugs. I’ll bet those are hard to find.

  4. Chuck

    I like all the options, but the heavy hit to the right quarter panel is a “deal breaker”.

  5. randy

    I have been wanting a mid 60’s wagon for years. maybe one will pop up close to Oklahoma!
    I’d also rather have the original 389 4bbl engine. What a great find, thanks folks!

  6. Rhett

    Strangely, these fully loaded Pontiac mid 60’s wagons are not that rare….at least in the northeast.
    I have a buddy that has a 64 that’s equipped right down to both bucket seats, tach AND vacuum guage, and I remember girl I went to school with had a 67, loaded 8 lug wagon with buckets, console and 4 gear. At some Pontiac shows in CT and MA, I’ve seen others too – must have been a Pontiac thing.

  7. Bill Sapp

    Guess someone didn’t care for air conditioning…..

    Mr. Bill

    • Ed P

      Cars with A/C were rare in 1963. Many dealers did not keep a/c cars in stock. They had to be special ordered.

  8. Wayne

    I’m with Chuck on this one. I was all twitter pated till I saw that right rear quarter however, with all those options and the increased interest in wagons, may not be too bad if you could do the work yourself. My first car (still have it) was a 62 Buick Invicta wagon and in addition to the usual, it has bucket seats, consolette, power windows, search tune radio and power antenna. Love them when they are loaded!

  9. NEMO

    Light rod improvements and let the patina state the obvious!

  10. gunningbar

    No point in restoring to original.. and waaay too much money (to restore). Fix whats broken (right rear) and drive….

  11. Tom Member

    To Ed P’s comment. In my opinion, the magic marker on the dash written over the original order is due to the trans being different than original. In that year, R – Reverse was at the end, to the far right, on the original trans in that car. I have a 64 Olds 98 that we bought new and has the same shift order. I forget the specifics about the trans but not many trans guys are familiar with them and no one really wants to rebuild them. I wish I could recall the specifics about them but they are significantly different than most transmissions. 8 lug wheels were not that uncommon on the bigger heavy duty Pontiacs in these years. I have seen quite a few Bonneville’s, Catalina 2+2’s and Grand Prix’s through the years with them.

    • Ed P

      I remember GM cars had PNDLR shift quadrants until about 1964. The location of R seems like a hazardous place. To easy to shift into R when you want L. I don’t think GM had a lockout on reverse like Chrysler did on it pushbutton tranny.

    • Matt

      Sounds like the dreaded Roto-Hydramatic trans, more commonly known as the Slim Jim.
      I had one in my 62 Olds 98 and had to search long and hard to find a shop to rebuild it.
      And this was back in 1988! Revved real high in 1st then slammed in to 2nd and then the
      car took off like a rocket

  12. Randy Forbes

    As a kid kid growing up in Detroit during the 60s, and with my dad in the business, I went to the annual auto shows at Cobo Hall every year (often going there the entire ten-day duration, when they were held the week between Christmas & New Years). I would go around and collect every piece of literature that wasn’t nailed down, and would occupy myself “picking out” cars and options. The Pontiac division, besides having beautiful artful renderings of their cars in exoctic locations (look it up; it’s “a thing”) and individual car line brochures (full-size, intermediate, etc.) also had a brochure (I don’t know, maybe 15 to 25 pages?) that listed nothing but the options and accessories available. A whole catalog of just options!

    So yes, ordering a Pontiac, and having a few bucks to spend on embellishments, could indeed occupy a fair amount of your time! However, for a Pontiac employee (I’m envisioning one of the assembly-line workers) he might’ve known exactly what he wanted, based on watching those various options passing right under his nose; might’ve even had an opinion (or impression) of the buyer who’d order certain combinations of equipment… ;))

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