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Bubbletop: 1961 Pontiac Catalina Hardtop


This “bubbletop” 1961 Pontiac Catalina appears at first glance to be a car in pretty nice shape. As it turns out, even after closer inspection, it looks pretty good. The pretty Poncho is hiding out in Florence, Alabama and is up for sale here on eBay. Current bidding as I write this is just over $2,000 but the reserve has not been met yet.


You can see how the hardtop models from this year got their name from this view. I really like the stubby fins and oval tail lights; the styling is considerably different from other contemporary American cars. The paint looks pretty good as well, despite being an older repaint.


Just look at the curve on that rear window, and the reverse slope of the A pillar is very distinctive as well. Of course, the 8-lug wheels are great, too, although the seller notes that the brake drums need turning. Can you tell I really like this car?


The seller states that the only rust they found was in the trunk, and they cleaned it up and painted it. It certainly looks ok to me!


The interior looks pretty nice, although it’s not perfect, and both the headliner and sun visors have a few issues. However, look at the lower part of the dashboard. Yes, that’s air conditioning! Although it’s not functional at the moment, all the components appear to be present, which is the most important thing. Even the plastic steering wheel rim, although discolored, appears intact.


The engine in all these 1961 Catalinas is a 389 V8. The seller tells us that the car “runs great and shifts as it should.” and that the car has only been driven 12,000 miles since 1983. The seller did swap the original generator for an alternator, although the original generator and brackets are included in the sale. This is one car I would love to drive and fix up further over time. How about you?



  1. Rick

    That is a nice, clean and original survivor, especially like the wheels, just think how brutally fast it would have been new in 1961 if had been equipped with a 421 2×4 4 speed!

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  2. boxdin

    My all time fav Pontiac, and for 1961 one of the best looking cars anywhere. These bring big dollars esp clean w 8 lugs & big brakes !

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  3. JW

    Love the old Ponchos and this is a nice one. I particularly love the dashes from the 50’s & 60’s cars. Metal with chrome everywhere. Style something that’s been lost in todays plastic banana & orange world of cars. Great Find !!!

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  4. ags290

    Its at 12,600 and the reserve still hasn’t been touched. These bubble top cars always remind me of something from the Jetson’s. What a gorgeous car!

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  5. Chris in Nashville

    Wow… Over 12,000 now… Outta my range!

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  6. David R.

    Hmm, might be my grandmother’s friend’s car. Last time I saw her (1986) she still had the car. It was this same color combo too, and one of the first cars I’d ever seen with factory air when she brought it over right off the showroom floor. She kept everything she ever owned, and took care of it to make it last too. Florence isn’t too big of a town, there is the possibility…

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  7. boxdin

    All of the 1961 bubbletops; chevy, pont, olds &: buick are beautiful cars. The swb pont ventura is much nicer than the bonniville bubble just coz of size alone, the bonnie is huge compared to the ventura shorter sporty look. Is pont the only brand w 2 bubbletops for 1961….?
    The 61 olds is also gorgeous like this one;http://image.hotrod.com/f/9819383+w660+h495+cr1/0301_ccrp_01_z_olds.jpg

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  8. Wayne

    Ad has been withdrawn

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  9. scooter8


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  10. Charles

    A clean 61 with factory air… Nice!

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  11. Paul R.

    Really a nice car!

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  12. The Walrus

    One of these was featured in Hemmings Motor News a couple months ago. It was blue and spectacular. Have seen so many Chevy Bubble tops over the years, but I didn’t recall ever seeing one from the other brands. Now that I’m aware, I’m smitten with the Poncho…

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