Disclosure: This site may receive compensation when you click on some links and make purchases.

First Year Wide-Track: 1959 Pontiac Catalina

Pontiac was on the move in 1959, the suspender-wearing stodginess of old was gone (though I wouldn’t consider the ’58 edition to be stodgy), and “Wide Track” was in. Pontiac was making way for what would eventually become the “Driving Excitement” division. I’ve covered quite a few ’60s vintage Catalinas but this is the first ’59 that I’ve encountered, so let’s look it over. This very serious-looking, black sedan is located in Olympia, Washington and is available, here on craigslist for $18,500. Thanks are due to Pat L. for this tip!

There was a time that whenever I’d spy a 1960 Edsel, I’d think ’59 Pontiac! Now, the reverse happens which really makes no sense as Pontiac knocked out about 383K cars in ’59 vs. Edsel’s 44-day run of about 2,800 units in the abbreviated and final ’60 model year. So, was Wide-Track a concept, promoted by slick marketeers and stretched, landscape-oriented sales brochure images, or was it genuine? Well, a ’58 Catalina had a front track that measured 58.7″ while its ’59 successor reached out to 63.7″ – a full five-inch spread, so yeah, it was real.

This Catalina is an interesting find as it’s a two-door sedan, known in Pontiac circles as a Sports Sedan, as opposed to the more commonly saved two-door hardtop or Sports Coupe. It’s one of about 26K produced in ’59 and Pontiac would keep this entry-level two-door sedan in its lineup through ’68. Regardless of  Pontiac’s pecking order, tailfins were in and this Catalina is wearing a pair though they’re pretty moderate compared to say, a Cadillac of the same era. We’re told that the finish is mostly original and it certainly presents well. I’d say that the stainless trim is rather moderate considering that this Catalina is, after all, a ’59 model, a time when stylists went to ouvert ends to outdo one another in the bling department. The American Racing Torque-Thrust wheels are a nice addition, they spruce things up a bit but not in an overly flashy manner.

The listing states the engine as being a 389 CI V8 but doesn’t indicate which version so I would run with the assumption that it’s a standard 280 gross HP variant. A Hydramatic automatic transmission is backing up the V8 and the seller claims, “Runs and drives great and the tall rear end gears allows this car to cruise down the highway without even breathing hard“. Based on the image provided, it looks like a very original and non-modified powerplant.

Claiming more originality is the interior but the images are so piecemeal that it’s difficult to get a comprehensive look at the environment in its entirety. What is evident, however, is split front seat upholstery – and detritus like a water bottle should be removed before photographing for crying out loud – it might seem like a real nit to pick but it comes off as a lazy distraction. I would also suggest that this is a seatbeltless Poncho. The instrument panel is a testament to the era with its elaborate chrome work and it seems to have survived the test of time with just minimal pitting observed. Another bygone feature that I’ve encountered a lot lately, is an FM converter and this Catalina is no exception.

So, this one’s not a muscle car/hot rod and it’s not a top-flight luxury car either. Nope, it’s just a nice old full-size cruiser – one we won’t see the likes of again. It would be interesting to know what the next owner chooses to do with it, leave it as is or go for mods – and that’s my concluding question. If you were interested in this big Cat, what would you do with it?


  1. DW

    This was back when automakers were free to make their designs however they wanted because there were no safety regulations to be met. And while I would not want to have unsafe cars now, you have to admit the late 50s and early 60s had some very elegant automobile designs.

    Like 32
  2. Chris Cornetto

    I had a sky blue convertible briefly in the 80s. It left for Scandinavia where I hope it still happily resides.

    Like 9
    • Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

      Very rare color. We had a 59 Catalina convertible in the sky blue (Ma called it powder blue). I loved that car as a 17 year old. Tri-color interior aquamarine and dark blue and white (I think).

      Like 4
      • Chris Cornetto

        the white was a real light blue. I thought I had a photo of it but I can’t seem to find it. I didn’t have the car very long as I was enthralled with my 59 Impala convertible at the time. I miss those days. So many neat cars that were pennies to buy and you could register and drive them cheaply. I would try out different units. This one started me on liking Pontiacs to which I still have a few in my collection.

        Like 0
  3. Will Fox

    By `59 Pontiac had already built itself a sturdy reputation in the stock car industry, and it was this body style that was utilized–the 2dr. post. Me? I would paint it factory white for `59, I think SMS interiors may have interior fabric for that seat, install proper first-year Pontiac 8-lugs & period whitewalls and a tri-power setup as well, then call it good.

    Like 16
  4. Carbob Member

    I like this. Another nice car from Washington State. The vehicles in the Pacific Northwest avoid corrosion much better than here in the Mid Atlantic. Can’t remember the last time I saw a 1959 Pontiac. I do remember the Wide tracking Pontiacing marketing. Print advertising of the day depicted these cars with a direct view of the front of the car. It looked so wide and low slung! I always get down the memory lane when I delve into BF. Thanks.

    Like 18
    • Tman

      It is true about corrosion here in the PNW. But rust from rain can ruin any car that sits. Mold will rot any interior. I live in Oregon by Mt Hood and there are countless vehicles hidden under blackberry bushes.

      Like 1
  5. Raoul-F Raoul-F

    The “tall rear” could also point to the 215 hp Economy version. Ratio 2.67

    Like 5
  6. Tony Primo

    I would throw a Mexican blanket over the seats, weld on some Patriot Smithy mufflers and do some cruising.

    Like 10
  7. Terry

    By today’s design standards GM’s cars seem pretty elaborate but let’s be honest folks. In 59 it was obvious, GM used up all the available nickel they could find on the 58s, especially Buick and Pontiac models. Didn’t need side markers those days since there was enough side chrome to reflect enough light to brighten up the darkest street. Still like em though.

    Like 6
  8. Chill-driver

    Unique, beside the lovely yet more common Bel Air or Impala. If it’s solid and I have the money, a very nice daily driver. No way would I hide it in some garage or bother with a trailer. Keep it from the winter salt, of course. It’s made to be driven, and I would want to experience that. Again.

    Like 7
  9. Chill-driver

    You know, wide whitewall tires were not so common as suggested by legend. They were still around, but one or two narrow white stripes and later raised letters generally replaced them in the 60s. I’ve always preferred black walls for a cleaner appearance.

    Like 6

      Wide whites were “so common” until 1962, the year that ‘inch-walls’ came on the scene. Dual white stripes were only on 70 and 71 models. White wall design was at the whim of GM stylists. Tire manufacturers made what GM wanted as GM bought over half of the tires produced, Other makers got them for that reason.

      Like 4
      • Arfeeto

        General Dual 90, a tire made by the General Tire and Rubber Co., made the thin white sidewall stripes popular beginning in the late 50s.

        Like 2
  10. bobhess bobhess Member

    Work’s already done, car’s in great shape and it looks great. Buy it, fire it up, and hit the road.

    Like 9

    Bobhess, you are spot on, I will try to get a decent price for my street rod 2012 4wd 2 dr Silverado and acquire this beauty, LOVE all of it. In 1949 I was in Bolivia with my UDT team 1 helping to look for nazis,

    Like 2

    HOW do I bid on this???? I WANT IT!

    Like 1
    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      You don’t bid on it, you buy it – it’s on craigslist. Click the link and contact the seller.


      Like 3
  13. Rob Jay

    Vehicles in the Pacific Northwest avoid corrosion better than the mid Atlantic? Wow, you must get some kind of corrosion there because I live in the Pacific Northwest and everything rusts like no tomorrow.
    Cool car, I like it a lot.

    Like 2
  14. Campbell Chrisman iii

    Cool car.You would have the only one at Cars N Coffee.Never remember seeing a post car like this one.

    Like 4
  15. Dale L

    The upholstery is a stark contrast to the three tone Naugahyde in my brothers ’59 Bonneville (which he sold fifty years ago). I would clean the vinyl upholstery with a wet sponge, and some baking soda.Then take it to a professional upholsterer to replace the old grey fabric. If the floor pans are solid, have some front seat belts installed, and call it a day.

    Like 3
  16. Jack Taylor

    Why couldnt automakers make beautiful cars like that today and add the safety features… that is a beautiful old car…

    Like 3
    • Fox owner

      Jack, the market has changed. I mourn the loss too but it seems like everyone wants crossovers, SUVs and trucks. Ironically enough, once EVs make up the majority of new sales we may see a style Renaissance. Once you don’t have to worry about gas mileage you won’t have all these blobs designed by computers to cheat the wind.

      Like 3
      • Dale L

        …or ‘blobs’ blocking your forward view on the freeways.

        Like 0
      • Steve Mehl

        That’s a great point! Gives us something to look forward to. Styling will become relevant once again. Hopefully they will also create some magic about those EV batteries so owners no longer have to create a savings account just to be able to pay for a replacement battery down the road.

        Like 1
  17. Carbob Member

    Rob Jay, the chemicals put on the roads here in winter contribute greatly to the rust monster. Many older vehicles met their demise here because of rust not mechanical problems. It seems like I see a lot more rust free vehicles for sale in your part of the country than around here. But that’s just my perception. I also think I see nice vehicles for sale at more reasonable prices than here. Like the old saying goes; gold is where you find it!

    Like 3
  18. Joe Haska

    This is a very cool car! It’s all about the roof line. It’s a bubble top. I wouldn’t do a lot to it, because the body style is what makes it desirable.

    Like 4
  19. Steve

    If a car here in Oregon was given decent care, kept in a garage at night so it could dry out and dirt not allowed to collect in the fender wells they’d tend not to rust out. Oregon didn’t use any salt on the roads back in the day.

    Like 3

      And that’s mainly due to the fact that it only snows here occasionally, and when it does, it most often melts in a day or two. Unless the car is at the Coast, and it isn’t a leaker, then they survive in rust-free condition.

      Like 3
  20. Bob C.

    1959 Pontiac, 1960 Edsel, 1964 Imperial. All three look pretty close with that split grill theme.

    Like 1
  21. Jim Cargile

    so, how much?

    Like 1
  22. Steve Mehl

    This car for sure needs to have the right color for a paint job. Not sure what color that would be, but light color for sure. Ditch those wheels.

    Like 2
    • David Michael Carroll

      Why do uou hsve a problem eith sftermarket wherls?? The first chsnge made after buying your first car!! (eye kant spel)

      Like 3
  23. Rustomodrob

    Yeah…the Pacific N.W. is ruff on cars. My 63 Pontiac GP came from Washington state. That I purchased back in May here in S. Florida. Russ actually did an article on it then. “Trailer find ” I believe his title said.
    It needed a frame…totally rotted through both sides behind the front tires. Lower fenders and quarters as well. But I already got a frame from California and bringing her back to life. Complete numbers matching running car with a bunch of extra parts.

    Like 1
    • Larry Sorenson

      Still remember going into the Pontiac dealer with my dad and seeing that wide track front end staring BACK at us!My dad was into cars and bought either a Pontiac or Olds every year. HE bought the 1959 Pontiac Catalina 4-door in medium blue AFTER some haggling with Jack Archer the owner of the GM dealership.Wow I felt like we had something special every time we would take a drive in our ‘WIDE-TRACK’ Pontiac.

      Like 1
  24. Grape Ape

    What a stylish vehicle, black looks good. No mods to bother purists, long as everything was in proper working order of course. Something needed replacement, done. Must be word worthy.

    Like 1
  25. 59Poncho

    With my Barn finds handle I think I need to comment on this ride.
    I have been waiting for people to discover these cars. My oldest brother had a 59 Starchief with glasspacks and as a 9 year old, it left an impression in my already car loving brain.
    The powder blue mentioned above was Castle blue on the Pontiacs and called Wedgewood blue I think for Buick and Caddy. I have a no post Catalina in the light blue hue. The Catalina interior while not as fancy as my 59 Bonneville, is still an awesome sight in Turquoise/Blue especially the dash
    The center of the hood where they latch is a killer on the back of your head,
    I don’t know how many times over the years I have slammed it when under the hood.
    The car listed is priced very well, what would an Impala cost ya???

    Like 2
    • Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

      Thanks for the details on the color. I’d kill or die to find a 59 Catalina convertible with the same interior. All of the 59s are pretty rare these days, although the Bonnevilles seem to be more available. I personally like the slightly smaller Catalinas, but they’re all beauties. ‘No post’ is what we used to call hardtop convertibles.

      Like 0
      • 59Poncho

        Yep, its only 9 inches in the 1/4s but seems like a lot more when looking at the 2 models difference.

        Like 0
    • Steve

      I never heard the term no post before. They were hardtops or sport coupes where I grew up. We called the pillared cars sedans regardless of number of doors. I love the 59’s. They’re the same age as me. I’ve got a 59 Chev Biscayne 2 Door Sedan and a 59 Buick Convertible. I have owned three Plymouth Sport Fury Sport Coupe’s over the years and a Sunliner, all 59’s and more that I can’t remember right now.

      Like 0
      • Jerry Bramlett

        You are correct according to 1959 Pontiac sales literature. A 2-door coupe has no post, while a sedan does.

        This is a nice car. I’ve talked to the owner, and will hopefully get more photos soon. He was very open about the car’s flaws. There’s some rust in the trunk, but none in the footwells. The back half of the car has been repainted… poorly. He hasn’t found any past collision damage repairs, however. The brakes pull. The car was kept in a carport for at least 20 years, and has ~80,000 miles total.

        I’d much prefer a manual transmission, but other than that, it may be just what I’m looking for.

        Like 2
      • Jerry Bramlett

        These are the photos I requested from this seller:
        VIN plate
        Trim tag (on firewall)
        interior panels, dash, headliner, and seat covers
        underside of floors
        trunk floor repair and spare tools
        close-up of one wheel
        any rust blisters in the paint
        any cracks in the glass
        loose parts that come with the car

        I guess that was too much to ask of him. His email reply thanked me for calling and had three photos attached. Two were repeats from his Craigslist ad. The one new photo showed the driver’s door panel.

        Right back at you, Chief.

        Rock hard pass.

        Like 0
      • Jerry Bramlett

        Photos from the seller have continued to trickle in. I now have answers to most of my questions.

        I found nothing inappropriate in the Trim and VIN tags. This car was built in Southgate, California as an all-black sport sedan with a gray interior.

        The aftermarket aluminum wheels are 15″ ET Uni-Lugs with 3-year old radials. The seller does have four 14″ steel wheels and some stock hubcaps.

        The automatic transmission is probably the original 4-speed Hydramatic, and not a modern 3-speed TH.

        Like 1
  26. JoeNYWF64

    Poor man’s batmobile?

    Like 0
  27. 59poncho

    These cars have five on five bolt pattern and wheels are hard to find other than aftermarket
    If you upgrade to disc then 15s are required usually making the original hubcaps unuseable
    Also beware of LEFTHAND threads!

    Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.