Finishing Required: 1963 Pontiac Tempest Race Car

A few weeks back, we covered this 1963 Pontiac LeMans and there was a discussion around what to do with it and its later Pontiac performance follow-on, the renowned GTO. Well, for those who speculate around next moves, and I don’t think any suggestions were this far out, try this one on for size, a 1963 Pontiac Tempest station wagon built to full race prep. This quarter-mile-at-a-time beast is awaiting completion and is located in Arlington, Texas. It is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $8,601 with 30 bids tendered so far.

There’s a lot going on here and the seller states, “The vehicle needs work“. While much has been accomplished, there is always much more to do when a project, especially one of this nature, is acquired. I don’t know NHRA racing classes but this Tempest was designed for “Super Gas” (S/C?) competition and it has very little remaining in common with a streetable Tempest. Let’s look further:

So, this is a steel-bodied car, wearing its original shade of Grenadier Red but has two different fiberglass front clips though the original front steel clip is available. The body is attached to an Alston Chassisworks tubular frame that has been designed for the Tempest’s wheelbase and works in concert with some sophisticated componentry to hold it all together. The chassis is certified to “7.5 specs” which I guess means a 7.5-second quarter-mile run. There is an extensive accounting of all of the racing hardware in the listing, and if this sort of thing holds your rapt attention, I encourage you to cruise through, there are a lot of details.

Motivation is provided by a 455 CI Pontiac V8 engine that has been bored .030 over and employees Ram Air IV cylinder heads. The dynoed horsepower comes in at 739 with 602 lb. feet of torque. It’s nice to see Tin Indian power moving this drag strip competitor, I was expecting something like a big-block Chevy but I’ll admit to not knowing the rules regarding engine size/manufacturer, etc requirements for Super Gas. The engine is connected to a Ford 9 inch style differential spinning a 4.57 ratio gearset via a $3,000, two-speed Powerglide racing transmission. This powertrain is claimed to have pushed an S/C Firebird to an 8.67 quarter-mile run.

Referencing the interior, the seller states, “A lot of the interior aluminum work is done (4 door panels plus the rear hatch panel) some is partially completed ( firewall, transmission tunnel, 2 driveshaft tunnels) plus a lot of miscellaneous panels and parts for finishing the interior. My friend bought 3 sets of rear wheel tubs. Fiberglass, Aluminum and Steel. All 3 are new“. His referenced friend is the individual that started the build. Obviously, the interior has virtually nothing in common with how it would have originally appeared – everything from its former life has been replaced.

So, a turn-key dragster, this Pontiac hardly is. Selling it now is more like changing horses in the middle of the stream, an affair that can be a challenge with picking up someone else’s project. Even more so for those without intimate knowledge of how such a specialty car is supposed to fit together.  If a hardcore dragster is on your bucket list of must-haves, here you go, hopefully, an instruction sheet is included, right?

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Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Nice workmanship. This car could be a lot of fun when finished.

    Like 6
  2. sir_mike

    Great starting point.Needs to be finished and on the 1/4 mile.

    Like 3
  3. Pat Smith

    There are no drag strips where I live.

  4. Terrry

    That’s “Tin Indigenous People” power.

    Like 3
  5. Steve R

    Well thought out car with little to no expense soared. The problem is, it’s a long way from being finished in both time and money. Another problem, based on the surface rust and parts selection it’s probably been sitting for well over a decade. It may have been planned as a Super Gas car, but the technology surrounding the class has moved on to favor open top tube chassis cars, often with an extended wheelbase.

    The price is very reasonable. There is a good chance whoever buys it splits up the components cherry picking what they want for their own car, especially if it’s Pontiac powered. I’d bet the body gets sold and completed as a bracket car with a big block.

    Steve R

    Like 1
    • Stu Neilson

      The car your Mom drove you to school in 66.
      Now (almost?) ready to do the 1/4 in 6.6
      Ok. I took some license with the time, but 16.6 didn’t fit right in joke – sorry
      Stu

      Like 1
      • Mountainwoodie

        My neighbor and mothers best friend had this exact wagon in the same color………back in ’64. Sends shivers up my spine to see that color on this wagon. That womans voice! And her name was Mitzi!

        Like 2
  6. scottymac

    Where does one go to get fiberglass front clips for a ’63 Tempest, a one year body style? I’d like a fiberglass front end for my ’66 Galaxie.

    • Steve R

      The manufacturer of the front clip is in the sellers description.

      Steve R

      • scottymac

        Thanks for the tip, Steve, I didn’t dig that deep. Looks like VFN only does 1961 & ’62 Gals.

        Like 1
    • piston poney

      ik know a guy who is building a henry jay gasser and he got a fiberglass front clip for it up north, pen. i think

  7. John

    Nice parts lot.
    If I lived closer I’d buy it and resell it all on eBay

    Like 1
    • Steve R

      That’s what I’d do too, maybe not all, but most.

      Steve R

      Like 1
  8. jwaltb

    I’m no expert, but why are the back wheels so close together? I thought tubs let you get them farther apart. This looks squirrely to me.

    • Steve H

      That’s all the farther out they can go without hitting the quarter panels.

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