389 V8 Beauty: 1964 Pontiac Catalina 2+2

In 1964, Pontiac wanted to offer a sporty version of its entry-level full-size car, so they created the Catalina 2+2, a trim option only for coupes and convertibles. The 2+2 came with bucket seats, a console, special trim and a heavy-duty suspension for when you wanted to put it through its paces. Not a bad upgrade for $291. This example looks to be in great condition with no mention of a restoration having been done at some point. The 389 V8 is original, but the automatic transmission is new. The car can be found in Valley Center, California and here on craigslist for $16,800 OBO. Thanks, MattR, for coming through on this great tip!

The Catalina joined the Pontiac line-up in 1950 and stayed there for more than 30 years. At first it was an option on hardtop body styles, but became a series of its own in 1959, leading the way for the rest of Pontiac’s full-size cars (like the Bonneville). They got a redesign for 1961 that carried it through 1964 with the customary annual adjustments. Catalina 2+2’s were equipped with either a 389 or 421 cubic inch V8, with the latter being the motor in the seller’s car. We’re told it runs and drives well. The engine looks as though it has been disassembled and repainted, although the seller doesn’t make mention of that. The mileage is reported to be 76,500, so it’s certainly possible.

We assume that the 2+2 was well-received as Pontiac sold nearly 8,000 of them in 1964 out of 257,700 total Catalina production. But that includes both hardtops and convertibles and we don’t know the split between the two. The body is straight and looks rust-free with no indication of a repaint. The color looks like gun metal grey which would closely align with Code 938 / R Alamo Beige in the Pontiac paint chip catalog.

Open the doors and there lies the 2+2 interior which looks especially nice. Other than a crack in the steering wheel, it’s hard to find fault with anything there. But it really should have been called a 2+3 because there’s plenty of room in that back seat. The car came with power steering and brakes and an aftermarket air conditioner fits under the dashboard, but we’re told it doesn’t work (the belt is off the compressor).

The 2+2 seems to add a premium to the base Catalina in the resale value department. An online search for 1964 editions reveals several in similar condition as this one for north of $40,000. So, unless there is something amiss with this car, it might be a bargain at the seller’s asking price. And he’s willing to entertain trades but doesn’t indicate what would interest him.

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  1. Arthell64 Member

    Looks like a good car for the money. Much rather have this than a rusted out needs every part replaced charger or chevelle.

    Like 22
    • doone

      Agree with all your comments about this one. Nice specimen however there is a lot of paint variation from panel to panel on both sides of this unit. Not my favorite year, which would be the 65 with that long Coke bottle shape, the swept back roofline and rear window and the beautiful chrome headlight nacelles.

      Like 6
  2. Jcs

    The seller agrees with you, Russ. There is a “3+2” badge mounted on the accessory gauge panel. I think that you missed the parcel shelf and the headliner in your assessment of the interior.

    Like 4
  3. Dennis

    The 64 2+2 had 2+2 emblems on the front fenders and the right side of the trunk lid. It appear to have the correct door panels but the missing body emblems raises questions.

    Like 4
    • Doone

      That’s right, and while we are at it where is the grab bar and why a repaint on the engine? Suspect a cloned Catalina here.

      Like 3
      • egads

        Look close : rattle can repaint on the engine- choke stove, partial steering hose- ac and alternator brackets, might be a good car to stay away from !!! Gotta love how most people think the early Poncho’s had ” 2 radio’s “.

        Like 2
      • Bill Potts

        My first car was a 1961 Pontiac Bonneville convertible,with a grab bar on the dash above the glove box. Don’t know if Ventura’s had this feature,and Catalina’s definitely did not. They were the lowest model in the full-size line.

    • Patrick Curran

      I would check the inside of the fenders to see if any holes were filled where the 2+2 emblems should be. Easy car to clone with the door panels, etc.

  4. EricG

    How come it says the car has its original 389 in one paragraph but in the next says 421?

    Like 13
  5. doone

    Although it is a nice specimen, there seems to be paint variation on the drivers side going to the back. Not my favorite year, that would be the 65 with the chrome headlight nacelles and that long graceful coke bottle body and swept back roofline and rear window. But nonetheless agree with arthells good points.

    Like 1
    • Dale S.

      The ’64 has much cleaner lines, and IMHO a more attractive, pared down design. When I was a kid my dad bought a silver blue ’64 Pontiac Catalina, so I may be a little biased.

      Like 2
  6. EPO3

    2+2+2 am radios I don’ t think I have seen that or the gauge cluster before looks like a knee buster to me

    • Gary

      That second set of knobs and push buttons is the heat control

      Like 2
  7. local_sheriff

    Personally I think the color looks closer to Silvermist Gray code D. It would be interesting to have a look at its cowl tag though as quite a few ’64 fullsize Ponchos have surfaced with ‘SPEC’ on the tag were the paint code should be punched, indicating a non-standard factory color.

    Definately started life without the AC unit, Pontiac’s own system had vents integrated in the dash and was operated via the ‘2nd radio’ closest to the driver. The wood veneer on the dash I believe is not correct for a 2+2 but exclusive to GP and Bonne.

    This is more or less Pontiac’s alternative to a ‘pala SS, and fairly lowly optioned(auto or 4spd were included with the 2+2 package). Nothing wrong with that, less stuff to break. The next owner will surely appreciate that the #1 issue with Cats – the Roto-Hydramatic – is replaced with a much more reliable TH350. It’s a nice Poncho but neither Cats nor GP Cali cars are unusual to come by in this price range. It’s a very nice driver quality Poncho from a extremely good year design-wise – IMO a 12-13k car

    Like 2
  8. rubin collazo

    I saw a 2+2 but it had the logo on the front fender that said 2+2.

    Like 1
  9. doone

    Missing: radiator over flow hose, vacuum hose to operate the damper module on left pass side of engine compartment close to firewall. 2+2 also had dual exhaust if I remember correctly and that is a roto hydro trans same as the ’63. The 2nd radio on the left: the volume knob is fan speed, the tuner knob is temp, the buttons are off/ heat only/heat def combo/def only. If factory air the temp knob also controlled the actuation of the compressor when the color on the “radio” display turned from red to blue. Also no 8 lug wheels just plain Catalina wheel covers. Imho $7500.

    Like 5
  10. glenn hilpert

    I thought every 2+2 had the 421 4V as a standard engine and the 3×2 carb set-up as an option. I think we have a base Catalina here with the 389 V-8. The VIN number should dictate what is really is.

    This car was 4 sale about 3-6 months ago I believe. I was wary as to the actual model and asked the owner if the 389 was the original motor. They never responded.

    Like 2
    • local_sheriff

      Actually in its first year the 389 was standard 2+2 engine with the 421 optional – 421 became standard 2+2 engine in ’65.

      When it comes to transmissions every source seem to state console shifted 3spd manual was base transmission – however in my personal OE ’64 Pontiac fullsize sales brochure it’s clearly stated: ‘When you order the 2+2, you’ve a choice of transmissions – either 4speed or Hydra-Matic are standard and both are console-mounted’

      Like 1
  11. ACZ

    Sweet car. Dump the Mickey-mouse air conditioning and get a parts car with factory air and do the swap. A 4 speed would be an improvement over that slush box.

    Like 1
  12. Patrickj Member

    I am very impressed with the readers knowledge. Good job guys. I don’t know what the seller is thinking about painting the engine and leaving the alternator hoses and the rest of the engine compartment as is.

    Like 1
  13. stevee

    Interesting that the hood and the trunk lid reflect light a lot, almost as tho clear coated. The rest of the car lacks that luster. The 421 cars I have seen had chrome numerals under the hood on the top of the core support cover.

    Like 1
  14. Barry L Klotz

    My brother owned a 2+2 in 1968. It was a 421with a4 speed. I loved to drive it. Fast car.

  15. Dan

    I like how all the pros jump on these ads and point out every good and bad point. I actually learn from it.

    Like 2
  16. Doone

    We’re not just pros, we’re just old.

    Like 4
  17. Barry L Klotz

    Dan, just in case you need to know, l believe you said something about pros. I am 71years young and I have probably forgot more than you know about cars.

    Like 1
    • Doone

      Barry, I am older than you have probably had more cars brand new that I care to remember but haven’t yet forgotten any detail about any of them except that stinking audi rat fox that I had and spent more on repairs per month than on payments. That said I think Dan’s comment was more of a compliment to us than a complaint. I am surprised that no one commented about the faint smoke coming out of the tailpipe in one of the craigslist pictures. This unit was bought by someone who got no advice from any of us and then found out the hard way that just because it looks good doesn’t mean it is good. There is easily 5 to 6000 dollars worth of visible work here and who knows how much more for what we don’t see waiting for the next sucker.

      Like 1

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