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Barn Beater: 1963 Pontiac Bonneville Coupe

Whenever you’re buying a barn find, especially one from the rust belt, it’s imperative that you inspect it closely. Sometimes a car will look solid and in fantastic condition from the outside, but be a rust bucket under the sheet metal. This 1963 Pontiac Bonneville is a great example of a car that looks amazing from the outside, but has rust issues underneath. It does run and drive, but it may not be safe to drive anymore. If you’re willing to take the risk, it is located in Fort Wayne, Indiana and can be found here on eBay with a BIN of $4,295.

The seller describes this coupe as a “barn find beater”, which seems like an appropriate description. The body and interior looks to be solid, but the frame has some serious rust problems. The original Saddle Bronze paint does a great job of hiding the exterior rust, but is surprisingly shiny. Given the rust issue, the seller suggests finding a Bonneville with a rust free body and frame and combining the two to make one car.

The Bonneville could be had with up to a 410 horsepower 421 cui V8, but this car came from the factory with this 303 horsepower 389 cui V8. The seller claims it runs smooth, but that the automatic choke isn’t working correctly. The Hydramatic transmission is working correctly, but is very much a slushbox. The seller has already had the fluids changed and the fuel system cleaned up.

The interior looks fantastic and shows very little wear. The odometer is only showing 35,000 miles and given the condition of the interior, it could be accurate. While A/C was available on the Bonneville, this car didn’t come with it, but had it added at a later time. The seller doesn’t state whether everything is in working order or not, but we would assume most everything works as it should.

This Bonneville has some serious rust issues, which makes this a hard sell. We are glad that the seller is honest about the condition of the car, but their asking price seems high. They have already listed the car once before and bidding reached $2,600 when the auction ended. At that price it could be a great barn beater that you could just drive or use as a parts car. Would you risk driving it with the rusty frame or would you use it as a parts car?


  1. J. Pickett

    I’m sure it would be easy enough to find a beat up car with a good frame.

    Like 1
  2. Robert J

    That sure is pretty. If gasoline wasn’t 1 arm 1 leg per gal. I would drive a 1963 Boneville.

    JP – Finding another car might be easy…doing the switch of parts and making the finished car look like this would be tough of course. Still lovely to look at.

    Like 0
  3. Dolphin Member

    This car may have serious issues with rust in the frame, but that Porsche 911 from a couple of days ago makes this Pontiac look good. At least this car has all its fenders and a half decent interior. That, plus the seller seems honest enough to talk about the rust in a way that a reader can’t miss, and to include way more photos than nearly all the other car listings out there.

    Even tho I’m not in the market for a ’63 Bonneville, I can appreciate the seller’s effort and honesty enough to really want him to get a sale. Best of luck to him.

    Like 0
  4. Horse Radish

    An older gentleman neighbor had one of these in 4 door.
    He needed help one day to change the tire. I gladly helped, but that first lug nut sure was putting up a fight. I finally prevailed snapping the lug bolt off !
    That is how I found out about reverse threads on one of these cars, and what the letter imprinted on the end of the lug bolt stood for……
    He traded that car in for a 86 Buick Century some such.one day…….trade down if you ask me

    Like 0
  5. kevin

    Can you put it on a 70’s or early 80’s Bonneville frame?

    Like 0
  6. Monty Gentry

    looks like it would need a frame off bead blast to really see if the rust is through and through, needs a valve job for the modern crappy gas we have now.

    Like 0
  7. paul

    Body on frame car, how hard would it be to fine a decent frame & switch it out, not hard at all, if the floors are gone I am sure that you can find someone who is knocking them off reproduction, join the Pontiac club, point is with an interior like that & a body that is pretty solid & all the chrome bits are there. I think it could be done. The only major issue would be a large truck to hall the frame from an Arizona junk yard to you, I don’t think it could be mailed.

    Like 0
  8. Dan Farrell

    Hard to imagine a frame that bad with no evidence of rust anywhere on the exterior.

    Like 0
  9. twwokc1

    When I was a kid my best friends mom had one of these, black with a red interior. My aunt had a white one with white interior. Thought those were beautiful cars, still do. Will always have a soft spot fo 63 Bonneville Coupes.This one look a bit too far gone to me.

    Like 0
  10. John Lyons

    I wonder if this is a factory supercharged car with sidepipes??? Great car!!

    Like 0
  11. Craig Ogren

    I have access to 64 4 dr. Been in Vegas all it’s life, ac , pwr windows, even venetian blinds in the back window. I bet it would work, but geeze that is a lot of work.

    Like 0
  12. Shawn

    Really not that hard of a job to do. A good winter project provided the body is sound. Any Early to mid ’60s pontiac or chev full-size 2 door frame will work. They can be had with a little hunting. A friend of mine just finished a ’64 convertible. Parts are not hard to find.

    Like 0
  13. Terry Ward

    Years ago i rebuilt a 63 pontiac Grand Prix. I found out the hard way that the Frame on a 63 Bonniville is LONGER than a 63 Grand Prix!!! The difference is in the length of the frame from the rear Dog leg ( over rear wheels) to the rear cross member. If any doubt, measure from center of wheel to wheel, then center of wheel to each bumper!!! I don’t believe this car is that dangerous !!! unless it sat in water for a while, and if that was the case the Rockers, and bottoms of 1/4 panels would be GONE TOO!!! If it was in Denver i would jump on it!!!

    Like 0
  14. Barn Finds

    The auction ended at $2,710 with 17 bids, but it wasn’t enough to meet reserve.

    Like 0
  15. turretman1st

    in 1974 when I went in the navy I gave my brother a 1958 chevy, he did not like it and traded it for one of these looked just like this one. on leave I borrowed it and went right in the ditch. the steering and suspension was so loose I couldn’t drive it. later he was pulled over in town and the police had it towed, they said it was to dangerous to drive. he was only 17 and never got it back.

    Like 0

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