Grocery Getter Tribute: 1963 Pontiac Tempest

Arnie Beswick was a famous racer on drag strips back in the 1960s and 1970s. Nicknamed “The Farmer” because of his roots in America’s Homeland, he won a lot of races back in the day when the automobile manufacturers were still active in the racing business. In 1963, Pontiac built just six Tempests station wagons for racing with the 421 cubic-inch “Super Duty” engine and the seller’s car is a well-done tribute to those machines, of which only one may still survive. Thanks for this cool tip, T.J., for a car that’s in East Dundee, Illinois. Dubbed ‘The Grocery Getter” this Pontiac is available from a collector here on craigslist for $65,000.

As the story goes, just a handful of these compact-sized beasts were produced to compete in A/FX, the factory experimental class of drag racing. With dual quad-carburetors, these cars put out some unbelievable horsepower and were light enough in the rear to really spin the tires. They all left the factory with 10” M&H racing slicks on black steel rims in the back and wide white walls in the front. Arnie Beswick was one of the lucky guys to get his hands on one of these to run. We’re told this replica was built by Wally Abela who is said to be well known in the arena of Nostalgia Super Stock retro restorations, dedicating this one to “Mr. Stock Eliminator” at the 1963 Winter Nationals. It’s even autographed by ole Arnie!

This same car may have turned up at a Mecum auction in Chicago in 2018. The seller says he’s a collector of Pontiacs and wants to sell the car but doesn’t have to. This tells me there is not a lot of wiggle room in his price. I’m not sure that craigslist is the best place to advertise a special car like this, so hopefully, it’s listed elsewhere. No attention to detail seems to have been spared:

  • Pontiac 1970 455 V8 that has been on the dyno at 572 hp
  • Edelbrock Twin 750 CFM 4-barrel carburetors with an aluminum intake manifold
  • Factory #64 “Hi-Perf” ported heads and MSD ignition
  • Richmond Super T-10 4-speed manual transmission
  • 9” Ford Currie 4.56 rear-end with parallel leaf springs
  • Front Disc Brakes and competition traction bars

This is quite the car and still turns heads today. In 2018, the Tempest won 1st Place in the All Pontiac Show at Pheasant Run. For more details about Arnie, aka Mr. B’s Passionate Poncho, the Mystery Tornado, the Tameless Tiger, and more, check out his website. Indications are he’s still with us although well into his ‘80s.


  1. Harvey Member

    No heater or radio,wouldn’t work for me:-)

    Like 11
    • T. Mann Member

      Heater? Car is for racing in the SUMMER
      Radio? Listen to the ENGINE.

      Beswick’s highlight of the GTO years was the world’s first-ever nine-second time clocked by a doorslammer, done at York U.S. 30 in April. The following year, the GTO gave way to a lighter car, a 1963 Tempest coupe with a nitro-burning 421-cubic-inch V-8.

      Like 18
      • Sam Shive

        How well I remember YORK US 30.

    • Jace F.

      It’s a purpose-built drag car that never came with either??

      Like 4
  2. Will Irby

    What a treasure! I would love to see this gem make a few passes!

    Like 6
  3. Todd J. Member

    I’m generally not a fan of tribute/replica vehicles, but I really like the unusual choice for this one and what appears to be a top-notch execution.

    Like 13
  4. joenywf64

    I’ve seen some pics of 2 door tempest wagons – not sure if they are factory or custom made. Surprised this one isn’t.

    Like 1
  5. Russell Arsenault
  6. Bunky

    Friend of mine in H.S. had a ‘63 Lemans with a 326- and a transaxle. How’d they stuff a 421 in this “from the factory”? 🤔

    Like 1
    • joenywf64

      All the pontiac v8’s(except the 301) are the same external size, so even a 455 would slide right in.

      Like 6
    • Haig L Haleblian

      I did exactly that in 1966. At 15 bought a 63 LeMans with a four banger and automatic that had been kissed in the front end. Found an identical car in a boneyard with a good front clip and a 326 3 speed. Swapped it all out threw on some glass packs and proceeded to get into trouble.

  7. Old Beach Guy

    What memories! When I was a kid, my father took me to see him at Charlotte Motor Speedway. I saw Beswick’s “Grocery Getter” and his “Mystery Tornado”, a blown 64 GTO. He match raced Richard Petty’s “Outlawed” Hemi Barracuda with the GTO. Beswick won best 2 out of 3.

    Like 5
  8. T. Mann Member

    What memories indeed. When I was a kid I went with the big guys (they could drive) to Winter indoor 1/8 mile drag races at McCormick Place in Chicago.
    Arnie’s front and back wheels were painted half white/half black so we could watch him power brake!
    THEN he left the line and I saw that the front wheels were not spinning!
    The front wheels had left the concrete.
    I told the big guys that the front wheels came off the ground. They reminded me that the engine was in front, it was heavy and the wheels can not come up. I told them to look carefully the next time he leaves the starting line.
    FIRST time we ever saw a “wheelie” :-)
    Thank You Arnie…

    Like 8
  9. Jimmy

    I have owned 4 GTOs and Arnie was my hero, went to a Pontiac car show and drags at Cordova race track, Arnie was guest host so I got him to sign my GTO shirt while talking with him, super cool guy.

    Like 4
  10. Kirk

    When I was obsessed with Pontiac and Pontiac engines in the late 80s early 90s reading about Arnies rigs in high performance Pontiac magazine always gave me lots of inspiration and guidance . Never met him but know his cars well and he’s Pontiacs King. Made every Pontiac owner loud and proud to be one back then

    Like 2

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