4-Speed Sleeper! 1964 Pontiac Catalina

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Boring looking tight? Oh sure, it’s incredibly clean but this 1964 Pontiac Catalina two-door stripper looks like something that your Uncle Herman, on your mother’s side, would have owned way back when. You know, drove it maybe 4K miles per year and kept it forever – nothing flashy for Uncle Herm, a Pontiac nameplate was juicing it enough. Well, don’t judge a book by its cover, this big Tin Indian has a lot more going on than initially appears. Hanging out in Burbank California, this two-door post sedan is available, here on craigslist where it can be yours for $22,500.

Pontiac had a vibrant lineup in ’64 with the Calalina anchoring the entry-level range beneath the Star Chief and Bonneville though there really wasn’t anything entry-level about a Catalina. Body style included four-door sedans, hardtops, and station wagons as well as two-door hardtops, convertibles, and sedans. And it’s that two-door sedan that is today’s subject as well as being an uncommon body style that year, it mustered just 12K copies.

The seller tells us that his car has experienced less than 1,000 miles since its restoration was completed. Claimed to be a California car, it shows as new. The finish, which looks like Skyline Blue, is without noticeable imperfections, and the chrome is strong as is all of the stainless trim. Before the doggie-bowl hubcap routine became code for a muscle car, that’s the way strippers came –  I know we had several in our household; my father wasn’t the kind of guy to spend much on frills. This body style is wearing some looong quarter panels and they appear to be razor-straight.

The interior is stated to be new and it is bright and clean. It’s also GM era all the way with its two-tone vinyl and cloth upholstery and nylon loop carpet. Completing the look are the front seat airplane-style seatbelts – none in place for the rear, however. Oh, and another item worthy of consideration is the four-speed manual transmission shifter along with a steering column mounted tachometer and under-dash engine gauges, hmmm.

OK, here it is, under that big Poncho hood is a decidedly, non-original 455, CI V8 engine in place of what was likely a 389 CI mill. As for mods, a high-rise aluminum intake manifold, headers, and a non-original carburetor are evident – along with the finned valve covers and open-element air cleaner. There’s no word as to how it runs, but I’m sure “strong” would be one appropriate adjective.

Well, it looks like Uncle Herm is kicking it up a bit; who knew he was such a sport. Looks can be deceiving, right?

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  1. B.B.

    Nice write-up and very cool car! But can we stop using the word “sleeper” on cars like this? This thing would get more attention on the road than a UFO that landed in the middle of the street, and probably smells like fuel and shakes the ground in a 5 foot radius around it.

    Like 44
    • RexFoxMember

      Actually, the term sleeper is appropriate for a car that looks like this. I do agree however, that once that big V8 was fired up, it would give a different impression. This would be so much fun to own and drive.

      Like 24
      • Tony Primo

        There is plenty of room underneath this car to run a full exhaust system with X-pipe and turbo mufflers, if you want to keep people guessing.

        Like 7
      • B.B.

        I would look at it like it was just a modern crossover until it blew my doors off. Haha! Just kidding Rex. I mean, I guess we could define it differently but I don’t think this would put anyone to sleep in traffic, mufflers or no. In 1965? Yes. In 2023? Big LOL!

        Like 4
      • LarryRS

        I’m not sure sleeper is apt these days for this car. 20 or 30 (or more) years ago it probably would have been. But the number of 389 2bbl automatic 1964 Catalinas running around on the streets nowadays is probably fewer than the number of high hp ones.

        Like 1
      • FrankDMember

        more appropriate if it was 421 with triples.

        Like 5
      • John wait

        Spot on

        Like 0
      • DAN Huttinger

        My first car was a 1963 Pontiac Catilina 2 door sport coup and it had a 389 v8 and three speed TRANSMISSION shifter on the column.

        Like 0
  2. Nevada1/2rack NevadahalfrackMember

    Were this 10 years older it’d’ve been eyeballed hard by “them pesky revenuer” as a shine runner but as it stands it makes for a real slee…I mean sneaky sweet Saturday night special. Dog dish hubcaps on no frills type blacked out rims, an innocently simple baby blue paint job, but when running it’s probably a low rumble-like a typical Sunday morning California earthquake that everyone there pretty much ignores.
    IMHO it’s a screaming deal for the price, but then premium fuel is almost $5 @ gallon so maybe a little incentive on the owners part by his in-house CFO to sell it..
    GLWTS, hope it find its way to a good home!

    Like 7
    • Steve R

      Running pump gas shouldn’t be a problem, you wouldn’t likely need premium either. Only one year 455 (1970) had high compression, after that the maximum was 8.5 even for the 71-72 HO and 73-74 SD’s. All 455’s were designed for torque, a thought out engine build wouldn’t need higher compression.

      Steve R

      Like 7
      • Steve H

        Most likely pistons, camshaft, etc. have been changed so compression could be anywhere from 9.0 to 11.0 . I’m sure he didn’t go stock parts when rebuilding the engine.

        Like 3
      • Jered

        One of my pontiacs runs the high compression 455 and she loves the high octane. She drinks it like im leaking it.

        Like 3
      • C Force

        The 455 in 1970 for b-body cars was rated 365hp(10:5.1cr)my friend bought a 1970 bonneville 455 just for the engine and TH400 trans.

        Like 0
    • Harry

      Well Steve H you seem to have some insight into the build.

      Like 2
      • Steve H

        Aftermarket pistons aren’t much more expensive than factory, so why not get more out of it. Same with cam, etc.

        Like 2
      • Fred

        Steve H:

        Heads look like “66”, if so 1971 455 heads, 8.5 or so compression.

        Switching heads on a Pontiac is the easy way to change compression ratio. No need to swap the pistons to raise or lower compression.

        Like 5
  3. ACZ

    Sweet example of a Catalina hot rod. Pontiac had just endless combinations of drivetrain components back then.

    Like 5
  4. Will Fox

    Beautiful resto-MOD. But one glaring item needs defining: Is that a sheet-metal patch panel on the RH side of the trunk floor? Noticed it’s duct-taped in place. Just looked odd; perhaps I’m wrong on it. Anyone?

    Like 6
    • Fred W

      I think that is the original jacking instructions sticker, worn but still there. Pretty cool!

      Like 5
    • "Edsel" Al leonardMember

      Definately not the jacking instructions….the remains of that sticker is on the bottom of the wheelwell..you might want to ask the owner what that duct tape is doing there surrounding almost the whole right side of the trunk floor….maybe nothing but you never know….

      Like 4
  5. Gary Thompson

    Liked watching them at Great Bend, KS drag strip..Those had the 421 ci engine and four speed..ran about -14 sec (or faster)….Monsters..

    Like 5
  6. MorleyMember

    Do not care about the duct tape. Anything can be fixed, what is important is the 2 door post, body, the four speed and the engine—and the dog dish. That is all that is needed. You do not need all that other “modern” option stuff. If you wife wont ride with you , fine in a car like this you do not need any extra weight !!!!!!!

    Like 10
  7. Neil

    Amazing that they didn’t even prime & paint that crappy trunk floor patch. Not sure if it isn’t my failing eyes, but it looks as if there is bubbling or poor bondo finish at the bottom of the trunk drip rails?

    Like 3
  8. CarbobMember

    Looks like the driver side of the trunk has a rubber mat in place and the edge where you can see bare metal is held down with duct tape. Of course I would want to know what the situation is with this if I was buying it. But as much as I like this car my present circumstances dictate otherwise. This appears to be a good deal on a really nice old Poncho. The drivetrain sells itself for me. Love this era of GM styling. The interior alone is worth the price of admission. If only I had my dream barndominium and total lack of prudence for my retirement savings…

    Like 5
  9. Chris Cornetto

    64s are nice, I have a Bonny convertible with the boring automatic, ha, ha. No doubt with the 455 this fella rolls. Years ago I bought a 65 Catalina 2 door post with a bench seat 4 gear, 3:42 posi, and a 389. That car would roll. The person who bought mine however was definitely unique as they put factory air in it, a tilt column, fender skirts, electric seat and an am fm radio. That car also had that big chrome tachometer on the left side of the dash and the laser beam headlight gizmo atop the dash. Fun for a brief time in the 90s but a northeast rust bucket rendered it not worth fixing. I saw very few of these 60s two door post cars, except for the Chevy which there were a bazillion of in my area.

    Like 3
  10. Richard Jones

    You forgot to mention Grand Prix, which i have, 63 4speed, tri power. I like the 63 over the 64s because the 64 rounded the front headlights and the 63 was squared. The 389 is sitting on a engine stand, and a 455/462 is in the car for fun. The 9.3 rearend with 342 gears moves it like a freight train.

    Like 3
  11. LarryRS

    My favorite Grand Prix would have two be the ’62, but the ’63 Grand Prix is beautiful and would be a very close second.

    Like 3
    • Richard Jones

      My brother has 2 , 62s GPs, both 4speeds and one is a 421, 62s is my second favorite lol

      Like 2
  12. Stuart Nuss

    That isn’t a 1964 engine. 1964 and earlier engines had the two front and rear bolts on the intake manifold staggered.1965 and later engines had the manifold bolts in line with each other.

    Like 0
    • Richard Jones

      If you read the article, it clearly states a 455 in the car 🙄

      Like 2
  13. Mark Kelley

    Had a Red 66 Catalina with the 389 ci. Put true dual exhausts on it. I believe 26 gal fuel tank. Sunoco 98 octane. 72 mph freeway, almost made it from Manistee, Michigan to Cincinnati, Ohio. Ran out 4 miles from my apt. Almost 17 mpg. I was ecstatic. Paid $300 1975. Timing chain 1978 with 144,000.

    Like 0

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