Family Cruiser: 1966 Pontiac Tempest

Update 5/9/2017 – The craigslist ad is down, but the seller has now listed it here on eBay with a starting bid of $2,500.

With ever rising values, the classic car of your dreams may seem out of reach. Then again, the four-door or six-cylinder variants of the same model may offer a lower barrier to entry. Take this Pontiac Tempest for example. It’s never going to be a GTO, but it’s running and driving and has an affordable price tag. It’s a little rough around the edges, but this could be the perfect way into the hobby without spending five figures. It’s located in Northwest Davenport, Iowa and is listed here on craigslist for $3,900.

Whenever there’s a car that could have left the factory with an optional V8, people always seem to overlook the six-cylinder variants. Some of these inline engines were actually very durable with respectable power. This particular one is an overhead cam design that was pretty high-tech for its time. Pontiac even came out with a high-performance version of this engine called the Sprint. The seller mentions that an LS swap might be fun, but I think it would be more interesting to rebuilt that slant-six to Sprint specs.

Things would be decent inside after some deep cleaning and a new seat cover. Luckily, the dash hasn’t been cut up to accommodate a modern stereo system. The benefit of getting a four-door like this is that there’s plenty of room to bring the whole family along on cruise nights and Saturday car shows. The back door makes entry easy and those big bench seats can actually fit three across in the front and the back! Everything is claimed to work in here and a lot of work has already been done to make this car a driver.

There’s some rust in the floors that needs to be addressed, but the body appears to be in decent condition. I’d want to take a closer look though to make sure that surface rust hasn’t turned into cancer anywhere. As much as we like to leave original paint alone, something is going to have to be done here. Keep it waxed, clear coat it, or pony up the cash for a whole new paintjob (just don’t start sanding until you know what it’s going to cost). Whatever you do though, keep those Keystone Classics and Radial T/A tires in place!

Fast Finds


  1. mario

    I had the exact same car in 1977 I bought from the Mercedes dealer I worked for as mechanic for $50

  2. Gunner

    For a Tempest with 2 extra doors, it still looks pretty good. Needs to be a hardtop though. I always heard good things about the OHV 6 Pontiac. You could have a lot of fun in this car just driving around and hanging out with Family and Friends without doing much to it. It would get lots of smiles!

    • Ralph Terhune

      These engines were overhead cam, not overhead valve, unless you are referencing the more conventional GM six cylinder engines.

  3. Joe Howell

    I like it a lot. Those engines are iffy, if you notice few have survived. I wiped a couple of lobes off my 67 Firebird’s cam and also suffered two cracked pistons. Mine was the High Output 215 horsepower Sprint version and could smoke some small V-8s much to the embarrassment of their owners. My Grandfather (1901-1981) who was nick-named “Happy” traded his 63 Comet (it was a dud, small six, and stiff gearing, 109 HP) for a 67 Tempest two sedan with the 165 horsepower OHC six and 3 on the tree. First time he took off across busy uphill intersection he gave it the gun like his old Comet and burned rubber thru the intersection with my mortified Grandmother shouting “Happy”. That was his favorite car and gave him no trouble but for a clutch replacement. My brother and I installed that new clutch in less than a hour. His later 73 Nova sported a V8, power steering and automatic. He could take or leave the Nova’s slushbox but he liked the power steering

    • St. Ramone de V8

      I’ve always been interested in these OHC Pontiacs, and know little about their reliability. You call them “iffy”. From what I’ve heard, they made decent power, and were smooth runners. Good fit for a Firebird convertible, I think. What was their weakness?

      Like 1
      • Joe Howell

        Wiping lobes off the cam.

  4. D

    Said slant 6 again —– that’s Mopar

    Like 1
  5. ROTAG999

    I believe that is a chevy 6 block with the Pontiac ohc head some did have problems do have a friend who had one he beat the crap out of it and never killed it.

  6. Glenn

    I had a 67 tempest with the OHC bought in 1980 classic one owner old lady car. Powerglide trans you could smoke the tires. Unfortunately the interior looked as bad as this one sold it a few years later to a guy that needed a parts car for a 67 GTO that was flipped.
    One of the most fun cars I’ve ever owned.

  7. duaney

    Sorry Jesse, not a slant six, the engine sits straight up. The block is Pontiac only, engineered from the Chev engine, but completely different. Some internal parts are shared with the Chev.

    Like 1
  8. Polarisky

    This was my first car also, except mine was green with the 326 V8 and 2 speed automatic. Bought it in ’76 with 80k miles for $400. Even had factory A/C. Drove it for 2 years and 33k miles before scrapping it due to needing a valve job and rear bearings(I was young and stupid). Sure miss that car.

    Like 1
  9. Ralph Robichaud

    Why would any one of sound mind part with FOUR grand, and need to spend near as much again to make it presentable(upholstery and ext paint, rust patching, etc,) and still have a so-so car from the 60’s, which has no specific “neat” appeal.
    I’m not going to be in your way as you rush out to buy it!

  10. Healeymonster

    Well if it was a wagon I would buy it. My dad bought a tempest wagon brand new with the 6 cylinder in Ohio. We drove it out here to California when we moved. It was super dependable but I remember my dad going through the whole car tightening or replacing missing nuts bolts and screws. It was stolen in Los Angeles back in the late 70s. Wouldn’t mind rekindling old memories.

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