Drive It Home: 1959 Pontiac Catalina Hardtop

This 1959 Pontiac Catalina Hardtop is a striking looking car that is in remarkably clean condition. It isn’t perfect, but there is no reason why it couldn’t be used and enjoyed as it currently stands. The owner has complete confidence in the condition of the Catalina and says that he would drive it anywhere. Maybe this is a car that you would want to drive back to your own home from its current location in Lake Park, Minnesota. The Catalina is listed for sale here on eBay, and while bidding has currently reached $5,756, the reserve hasn’t been met.

What you are looking at here is the only obvious flaw in the Catalina. There is a garage scrape on the front fender, and the chrome trim has also been a victim of this incident. I dare say that this probably caused its share of heartbreak because taking that out of the equation, the Shoreline Gold paint looks to be in really nice order. That is nicely complemented by the Cameo Ivory top, and the tinted glass. Apart from that single piece of trim, the rest of it looks to be in good condition, so hopefully, the new owner can find someone who will do a really nice job repairing this damage. When you look at the overall condition of the car, it is pretty easy to believe the owner’s claim that it has been garaged all of its life.

Powering the Catalina is the 389ci Tempest V8 engine, which is backed by a 4-speed Hydramatic transmission. There are two aspects here that I’m not sure of with this Catalina. The first is the fact that the owner mentions that the engine underwent a minor rebuild a few years back, but he doesn’t elaborate on what that actually entailed. The listing also indicates that the car has only covered 66,700 miles, and while the owner does mention low mileage, he doesn’t mention any evidence to verify this. What he does mention is the fact that the car runs and drives really well, and that he would be willing to drive it anywhere.

It isn’t clear whether the interior of the Catalina is original, or whether it has been restored at some point. One really nice feature of Pontiacs of this era is that they had some of the nicest interior trim combinations that you could find. This one features a trim combination which is quite a mouthful. It is the Jeweltone Copper and Beige Morrokide trim with Copper “Pageant” nylon-faced tweed cloth. It’s a pretty nice combination and looks to be in great condition. It isn’t clear whether the carpet is original, as rubber floor mats were standard fitment on the Catalina, with carpet as an optional extra. Regardless of whether it’s original or a restoration, it still looks pretty nice to me.

That one flaw in the body aside, this is a really nice looking car. It appears that it has been well cared for, and the idea of turning up, handing over the cash, and then driving it home is a pretty attractive one. Do we have any readers who would be willing to do that?


  1. NotSure

    Dang garages!! Probably attacked the car under cover of darkness when even the dog was asleep.
    This Poncho is older than me and is in better condition besides. I would want the best body man that could be found to massage that fender scrape problem.

    Like 12
  2. Chuck

    The chrome fender skirts would be the first thing to go, then the fender repair.

    Like 16
  3. Pat L Member

    Is it just me, or doesn’t it seem strange that the seller is saying that this car can be driven anywhere and yet it is on the back of a trailer?

    Like 18
    • Jeremy

      Equipped with the ultra rare “4 speed hydramatic transmission “

      Like 3
      • Anthony Rin RI

        GM’s original Hydra Matic was a 4 speed transmission but not a 4 speed overdrive transmission. The gear ratios in 59 were as follows 3.97:1, 2.55:1, 1.55:1, and 1.00:1.

        Like 3
    • george

      @Pat L some of us dont have help when buying a car, so if you have no one to drive it, how do you get it home, what a jerky remark you made

      Like 10
      • Pat L Member

        I don’t know george, l’ve sold over a dozen of my personal cars over the years. Never once did I need a trailer to bring my own car to my own house, where I sold it.

        Like 4
    • moosie moosie

      what happened to the thumbs down ?

      Like 5
      • BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

        I think the hundreds of “thumbs down” hits on any of my comments broke the button Moosie.

        Like 1
  4. TimM

    Nice looking Pontiac!!! Good size motor to move it along!! I’ve always considered this car to be Pontiac’s version of the bubble top!!! That’s why if I got this car I would slam it right to the ground!! Those skirts to hid the rear tires would have the minimum amount of tire sticking out from them!! The front end would have to be parked far back from the curb so as to not scratch the wings on that beautiful bumper!!

    Like 1
  5. James stollings

    Id drive it home and go over it add vintage air and hit the highway!

    Like 7
  6. Chris in Clover

    attention flippers: take the car off the trailer before photos, you might be just a little less conspicuous. although ignorance of things like the transmission type will give you away also…….

    Like 10
    • Ed

      I agree, except it looks like this guy couldn’t even wait to get it home let alone take it off the trailer. Pics at the gas station, and I bet the one in the building with the other cars is where he bought it.

      Like 2
      • RNR

        Speaking of the pics in the building, I see a ’78 El Camino and a ’56 Chevy in the background – wonder if anybody ever made a Tri Five ‘Camino……

        Like 2
    • Ida Mae Brunkendorf

      Its listed at Cars For Sale at $21,995 with many photos of it. It says it is not at the dealers but at a “client’s house”. It appears to not even have power steering or brakes. One photo shows what appears to be water leakage onto the front passenger floor mat. Rusted out cowls are not fun to fix. I suspect it was someone’s car who died and it looks like it just sat for a number of years.

  7. RNR

    Nice car! I have two childhood memories of ’59 Catalina’s:

    1. An older kid the the neighborhood had a white ’59 convertible for his first car. The hottest I’ve ever been in my was sitting between two other guys in the back seat of that car one summer day, top down, on black vinyl upholstery. He later painted it the color of the subject Poncho.

    2. A few years earlier I wasn’t paying attention and plowed into a parked ’59 Catalina riding my bicycle. It wan’t this one – I hit the left rear, not the left front, so I am not responsible for this damaged front fender! My handlebars did leave a small dent in the trim around the “V” fin, though.

    Like 2
  8. Allan

    Last August I bought a ‘59 Catalina Convertible about an hour North of Denver.
    Flew in Wednesday afternoon with a buddy and we were back home (Edmonton, Alberta…… 1250 miles) Friday evening. Great memories, and the car averaged 14mpg at 75-80 mph. Has the same 389 and transmission this one has.
    Someone needs to make some life long memories!

    Like 4
    • Allan

      I wonder if this is a Catalina though? It’s missing the lower chrome dash strip that says Pontiac…….. the steering wheel is different than the one in my Catalina also.

  9. Wayne

    I think that the transmission on these was called a Jetaway. ( I think still produced by hydro magic) Not the most reliable ones out there.. It was a good thing when Pontiac got the 400 Hydro. ( maybe 1964, but for sure in 1965). At the dealership approximately 50% of the 1959-1963 trade-ins had bad transmissions. ( by that time the tin worm had had its way with them anyway, so it was not a great loss at the time) If I bought this car I would keep the original engine and transmission. But would install a 1965 to 1972 400 to 455 ( 400, 421, 428, 455) with a 400 hydro. And then drive the wheels off it. ( after removing the fender skirts. ( or at least painting them body color)

    Like 1
  10. Roy L

    I dig the fins

    Like 2
  11. Wayne

    RNR, oh yes, several. There have even been a couple here on Barn Finds. I saw one once at Hot August Nights here in Reno. It was very well done using a 2 door 1957 wagon. The key to any of these home made UTES. (at least in my opinion) is how the back of the cab is dealt with in regards to the body lines. A hacked off (squared off) cab is just repulsive to me. And shows no thought or imagination. I have several (home made Utes) in my head that I would like to attempt. But have not done so yet. When/If I do. Then everyone else can tell me how bad or stupid it looks.

  12. Joe Haska

    it’s a bubble top !

    Like 1
  13. BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

    You gotta love any engine that has undergone a ‘minor’ rebuild where none of the blue bolts in sight have been touched.

  14. George

    @Pat L. If you look at the post on ebay,you will see he is a dealer. I do agree though that it’s not wise to show a car on a trailer like you just got it. But then this is Barn Finds.

    Like 1
    • Ida Mae Brunkendorf

      Its listed at Cars For Sale in Michigan, but says the car is not even there, but at a “client’s house”. It appears it does not even have power brakes or power steering. It looks like an old survivor. One of the photos looks like water draining through the cowls onto the passenger floor mat. Rusted cowls are tough to fix.

  15. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Had a friend once, (only had one or two in my life, 72 years) that had a 62 Catalina, he believed it to be the fastest car ever until he raced a guy in 57 Bel Aire with a 401 Buick nailhead. The Chevy cleaned his clock so he sold the Catalina the next day and started driving a 6 cylinder Studebaker bullit nose. My 59 Pontiac was a wagon. It was worn out when I bought it for $65. I still managed another year out of it.
    God bless America

  16. Roy L

    Most men only have one or two true friends their whole life.

    Like 3
  17. PatrickM

    Listing ended. $12,100.00. Somebody got themselves a nice car

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