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Award Winner! 1961 Pontiac Ventura

Between 1960 and 1970, the Ventura was an upscale version of the Catalina, perhaps like the Impala was a tier above the Bel Air. Mechanically they were mostly the same car, but the Ventura was packaged to appeal more to a sporty crowd. This example with the “bubble top” roofline is in excellent shape and looks like it could be an original vehicle. Located in Jacksonville, Florida, this cool Pontiac has won several trophies and is available here on craigslist for $39,500. Once again, Pat L. comes through with another great tip!

Following Pontiac’s tradition of naming its cars after towns in California, Ventura seemed like a nice fit for the new model. It was a full-size automobile until 1971 when the name shifted to a badge-engineering version of the Chevy Nova so Pontiac could offer a compact car. Of the three Pontiac hardtops sold in 1961, the Ventura saw the least production at 13,297 units. Although a Catalina under the skin, the Ventura had a custom trim level of its own and oval-shaped taillamps. Otherwise, the Ventura and Catalina were the same, including, the 389 cubic inch V8 found in this car.

We’re told this Pontiac is “all original” which tells me the paint and interior are as the car left the factory. It may be the lighting, but the finish on the trunk looks a bit dull. But the car is always kept in the garage when not out winning awards and is said to run extremely well. The mileage may be only 57,000, suggesting the automobile has seen less than 1,000 miles of use every year since its assembly.

Like the Catalina and other GM products, the roofline is of the “bubble top” nature and would be used for just one year on the Ventura after the restyle of 1961. This car sports rear fender skirts (in some photos) which were popular during that era and we assume they were an option in 1961, but they don’t add to the flowing beauty of the vehicle (IMO). You don’t often run across a ’61 Ventura these days, so this is likely to be one of the nicest ones you’d find.


  1. Terrry

    Usually the Ventura got the four-barrel high compression 389. That also set it apart from the Catalina, though you could order it for the Cat. This one apparently doesn’t have one. But like other GM cars for ’61, it has very nice styling. Handsome automobile, especially without the skirts.

    Like 21
    • David Nelson

      8-lug rims will really set this car apart!

      Like 11
    • Bill Potts

      I’m 72,and I’ve never seen skirts on any car made in 1961, Pontiac or otherwise. Lose the skirts,they look ridiculous. BTW, the Ventura and Catalina both had the same taillights, and without the name tag were hard to tell apart.

      Like 12
      • Chuck Dickinson

        Well, Cadillacs had skirts continually well into the 70s. Olds 98 & Buick Electra did as well for a number of years. However, I completely agree about someone putting skirts on this Ventura. (and I even have a few years on you!).

        Like 6
  2. ACZ

    One of the very best looking Pontiacs EVER!

    Like 17
    • Doone

      Yes, however my favorite is still the 1960 Bonneville Coupe.

      Like 3
      • David Nelson

        I bought a company executive 1960 Bonneville in about 1970 off the local Pontiac showroom floor – it was that nice! And loaded with EVERY option avail incl tri-power and 8-lugs! Worth a fortune today!

        Like 8
  3. MLM

    I’m a big Poncho fan ever since I was a kid ( especially those good looking Grand Prix’s from the ’60s). This ’61 Ventura does not hurt the eyes one bit. Gorgeous car when America was building some beautiful cars.

    Like 12
  4. terry

    I could have done without four pictures being cluttered up with trophies. I used to see the same thing at car shows. Some people have to show off trophies from previous events. The reason I no longer attend those events. It’s not like they won the Oakland roadster show or the Autorama.

    Like 5
    • Mike

      They’re missing a time out kid

      Like 7
    • Bill Potts

      I’m 72,and I’ve never seen skirts on any car made in 1961, Pontiac or otherwise. Lose the skirts,they look ridiculous. BTW, the Ventura and Catalina both had the same taillights, and without the name tag were hard to tell apart.

      Like 3
      • LMK

        Bill Potts, No biggie but Cadillac’s had skirts in 1961…

        Like 4
  5. Vibhic

    1961 was not the only year for bubble tops, I owned a 1960 Ventura bubble top. One car I truly regret selling. Baby blue exterior, blue interior.

    Like 7
    • Tony

      My dad had a 60 Ventura Ht also in 1961
      Beautiful car Black with Black & White
      Interior, wish I had it today.

      Like 6
    • Chuck Dickinson

      59/60 GM hardtops do not really fit the “bubble top” club since their back windows are completely different–they not a “bubble” like the 61 B-body hts (& 62 BA).

      Like 7
  6. normadesmond

    If I’ve said it once I’ve said it one thousand times-
    Those GD steering wheel covers.

    Like 1
  7. JustPassinThru

    Interesting discrepancy here.

    Pontiac continued with opposed, overlapping wipers – while Chevrolet had gone with parallel wipers from 1961. Pontiac continued with the overlapping wipers until 1971, IIRC…certainly through 1969.

    I just did a Google Image search, and it has Bonnevilles, Catalinas, and Venturas all with opposed wipers.

    Is this a model with repairs, perhaps a new cowl, off a Chevrolet?

    Like 3
    • ACZ

      It depends on which wiper system was used. Base models used a non-depressed park system (parallel). The depressed park system was used as part of an upgrade package and also on upgrade models.

      Like 5
  8. Howard A Member

    Pretty tough to see this and not think of my late uncle Marv,,not made of stone, you know. Don’t any of you folks have ANY childhood memories cars like this conjure up?

    Like 3
  9. HARLAN Richey

    I had a 1961 Bonneville I THOUGHT IT WAS BEAUTIFUL

    Like 4
  10. FrankD

    Nice, needs 421 tri-power hooked to a 4 speed.

    Like 10
  11. Joe Haska

    I want a bubble top, and an Impala in this same condition would be twice the price as this Pontiac. The picture without the skirts, shows how beautiful the
    car is.

    Like 1
  12. Gary

    When I was 15 and a dishwasher at a restaurant in 1972 my boss had this car in baby blue, it was stunning.

    Like 2
  13. James leo Aldi

    had a 62 grand prix. it had same type of tails lights. tri pow 4:11 gear and 4spd. love it.

    Like 1
    • Peter Lackenbauer

      62 pontiacs were a completely different body style with totally different taillights. Was yours customized?

      Like 3
  14. jim ald

    no it was stock. But yes when i think of it the lights were in rear fender.but loved both styles.

    Like 1
  15. john Douglas muldoon

    I have to ask what the true estimated cost would be to remanufacture this vehicle in todays market, Does it exceed the sellers asking price? The true question is it replacable or not? Beautiful car!

    Like 1
  16. Blake

    The shape of that windshield at the A pillar base is truly insane! Not to mention the back glass! To think that in the 50’s and 60’s technology existed to make glass bend in ways never known before and achieved it makes the lazy glass on the 80 cars unforgivable.

    Like 2
  17. Jay Tegeder

    The 1961 Pontiac Catalina and Ventura are my favorite Pontiacs of all time. I like them better than the Bonnevilles of the same year but I’d take one of those too. Also the 61 Oldsmobiles were spectacular. The grills, tail lights and bubble tops made those cars what they were.

    Like 3
  18. John C Boehler

    The base wipers were of the tandem Chevrolet style. I ordered them on my ’61 Catalina, only to find out, to my disgust, they were single speed. I would have taken the “widow’s peak” wipe pattern to get multi speed operation.

    Like 0

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