LS2-Powered 1965 Pontiac Tempest Wagon

In the automotive world, a “restomod” is a vehicle that retains old-school styling while integrating newer and more contemporary parts. Perhaps I’m biased because I own a Toyota Cressida with an engine from a newer, Japanese-market Toyota, but I think that a restomod is one of the best routes to take when modifying an older vehicle. With that being said, this 1965 Pontiac Tempest Wagon that’s available here on eBay immediately caught my eye, as it combines classic character with a powerful, modern powerplant.

This Tempest is available in New Boston, Michigan with a clean title. The seller mentions this was originally a California vehicle, but it is unclear when the vehicle made its way to Michigan, or when the engine swap was performed.

However, judging from the exterior photos, it doesn’t seem like this Pontiac had a very strenuous life in Michigan. The original chrome still shines very brightly, and while the seller mentions that this isn’t a show quality vehicle, it’s hard to find any serious flaws on the outside of this large and elegant wagon. Additionally, the undercarriage, floors, and frame are all supposedly rust-free.

Inside the cabin, you’ll find a green interior theme, which nicely complements the bright white exterior. It seems that some of the interior upholstery is newer, but the rubber floormats are original, and the air conditioning system also works.

The star of the show is under the hood – it’s a General Motors LS2 engine, which is a 6.0-liter V8 used in mid-2000s performance vehicles such as the Cadillac CTS-V, Chevrolet Corvette, and Pontiac GTO. This particular LS2 has 46,000 miles and pairs to a rebuilt Turbo 350 automatic transmission to drive the rear wheels.

At the time of publication, bidding is at $14,300. What do you think of this wicked wagon?


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  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    How good do you want it? Nice.

    Like 9
  2. alphasud Member

    My definition of a Restomod doesn’t stop with just a power plant. Judging by the single channel brake master she might still be stopping with 4-wheel drums! I would have installed a dual master with at least front discs and why stop at a 350 hydro. With all the available stand alone controllers for the LS series put a 4L80 behind that engine so you can have a descent mileage cruiser. Otherwise old wagons rule!

    Like 43
    • PatrickM

      Plus it would need some stopping assistance. 11″ Wilwood’s would do. also, Pontiac never made a GTO Tempest. A GTO was just that. A Tempest was its younger brother. Somebody’s been messin’ with badges.

      Like 2
      • Stan Marks

        The new Tempest & the GTO, came out together, in ’64.
        Identical body style with a different engine.
        The Tempest came with a standard 324 cu. GTO came with a standard 389 tri power or 4 barrel.

      • Stan Marks

        Btw…. The Tempest first came out in ’61 with a 196
        Model stayed the same through ’63.
        It’s not the younger brother of the GTO.

      • Ron

        326 actually, not 324…

        Like 2
      • JOHN Member

        Actually the standard engine was not the 326 V8, it was the 215 six cylinder. I would delete the GTO emblems on the rear fender unless I had the hood, grille, interior trim, and the remainder of the GTO stuff… then it would be a “GTO Wagon”

        Like 1
  3. David Ulrey

    I have to agree with alphasud. I would either follow through with the GTO theme more or ditch the emblems on the quarters. Personally I’d like to see it with more GTO theme to it. Really cool old wagon. Cross country road trip anyone? :)

    Like 10
    • Stan Marks

      You’re correct Ron. After I posted the 324, I recall it was a 326.

  4. TimM

    A true family cruiser!! Great looking with the stacked headlights!! It is important however with a power plant like this to upgrade the brakes!! When you have a lot of go you need a lot of whooohh!!!

    Like 12
  5. Troy s

    Makes for a real decent driver, especially with today’s fuel. The GTO badges are cool, the real eye candy is how clean everything looks under the hood. Restomod, It’s really no different than the ’32 Ford’s kids were sticking the all new small block Chevy in back years ago, now it’s these modern engines…and usually other upgraded stuff.

    Like 3
  6. local_sheriff

    I stumbled upon this ad a couple days back and I realized quickly this is a popular listing – from the moment I started reading till I came to the bottom bidding was up 2K!

    IMO it’s a beautifully created restomod, I like its stance and the use of the stock wheel setup is excactly how I would’ve done it. Being rather old-school I probably would’ve stuck with the 60s engine if I built this car; however as the LS is already there the hard work is done and I see no reason to reverse the conversion. I would not do anything to make it look more GTO but carry on with the bottom line Tempest theme

    Like 4
  7. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    This is a really nice wagon and with the modern engine should be a great performer. The all white exterior with the dog dish hubcaps gives it a bit of a subdued look complimented nicely by the green interior. I’d definitely upgrade to a dual chamber master cylinder and I’m a bit surprised the seller didn’t go with a more modern auto trans. Personally, I’d lose the GTO badges as in my mind they look too out of place on a wagon. Overall, this is a desirable wagon that you can get in and enjoy as-is. Love to have this one!

    Like 3
  8. bobhess bobhess Member

    FordGuy… That 350 transmission is a good one and not all hindered by “modern”electronics. Also, if you want to enhance it’s performance there is a ton of aftermarket goodies to do that with. Agree with everyone on the brakes. There are lots of brake upgrades out there for very little money that would make a huge difference. Anyway, very nice build on this one.

    Like 2
    • FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

      Agreed, bobhess, the Turbo 350 is a good trans but my thought was a more modern one would probably improve performance and fuel consumption. I like Southbound’s suggestion that a six-speed manual would be a pretty neat combo with the LS2.

      Like 3
  9. Will Fox

    I’ve seen this very car photographed in some magazine before; probably a hi-perf Pontiac issue somewhere. It’s beautiful, unusual, and appears to have been done very well indeed. I commend the owner for shoe-horning in the LS6 and Turbo 350! I’d love to hear it cackle at an idle. You WILL turn heads at any show with this one, guaranteed.

    Like 1

    After all is said and done you are a Dork driving a faux GTO wagon. You would be laughed out of the building back in the day and that’s the way I see it.

    This dork machine is better off stock.

    Like 4
    • cmarv

      I’ll be a “dork” all day long . I have a 70 Buick Sportwagon dressed as a Stage 1 Gran Sport , it has all the GS parts on it and has won many awards including one at the NHRA Nats. East . Wagons are hot right now . If driving that “faux” wagon makes me a dork , so be it . I might buy it and park it next to the Buick and be a double dork .

      Like 13
  11. Stan Marks

    A Tempest is NOT a GTO. As a former owner, of a ’65 GTO, I wonder what happened to the front hood scoop?? The front side emblem is true Tempest.
    The GTO front grill emblem is also missing. They slapped on a GTO emblem on the rear side. Many Tempest restomods are passing for GTOs. I would like to see the vin #….

    Like 1
  12. Kevin Fear

    Saw one special ordered one once; 389 tri power four speed loaded. Obviously a guy that wanted a GTO but needed a wagon. It was magnificent.

    Like 5
    • Marty Parker

      No Tempest wagon could ever be ordered with a 389.

      Like 1
  13. Ben Leighton

    It is not a Restomod. A Restomod has modern everything except the body and glass.

  14. Steve P

    Would the front suspension need to be beefed up for the engine conversion?

    Like 1
    • cmarv

      No , the LS2 is all aluminum and weighs less than the 326 or 6 cyl. it came with . That is an awesome swap .

      Like 2
  15. Alford H Pouse Member

    Anyone recall seeing a vintage Mercedes 300SL that was given a restomod treatment? Or a vintage American pickup dropped on a Mercedes SUV chassis?

  16. Del

    Very nice. well done !!

    Like 1
  17. bikefixr

    I like this. A lot. And if I had any room to put it…What I also like is that there is plenty of room to upgrade it to the next level. 4wd Discs, a better trans (even a 700R), hood scoop and a cold-air assembly to make it functional. All this could be done for modest funds and have a really cool cruiser.

    Like 6
  18. Moparman Member

    I personally would prefer a set of Rally II wheels w/ polished trim rings to go w/ the upgraded brakes!! :-)

    Like 1
  19. Southbound

    Would of been nice to see a 6 speed manual that was available for the donor engine. Not too many dollars away from being a perfect wagon.

    Like 2

    OK folks, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This is a well built and very good looking machine! I am 69 years young and distinctly remember my friends and I building our cars as our funds would allow. Another words, they were always a work in progress. Brakes can (and will?) come when funds will allow. As for the GTO badging, it’s the SELLERS car…. If they like it, who are any of us to judge??
    Great car, good luck with the sale, a steal at this price! The next owner can continue to transform, or just enjoy as it is.

    Like 4
  21. 86_Vette_Convertible

    I know the ad says it’s an automatic, but sure looks like it’s got 3 pedals in it.
    Overall, I’d drive it. Not sure if I’d build it, but definitely would drive it.

    Like 1
  22. Bob S

    Good eye 86 vette, probably started out life as straight 6, 3 on the tree. Love the build, good luck to seller and new owner!!

  23. Gray Wolf

    You all are jealous because you don’t have this versatile machine! People who generally criticize either don’t have a car or a car as nice or lack the skills to build it. Oil Slick, you came to the top just like a harbor trout!

    Like 1

      ANNNNND you are wrong on all accounts.

  24. Stan Marks

    Btw…. The Tempest first came out in ’61 with a 196 Model stayed the same through ’63.
    It’s not the younger brother of the GTO It’s the older brother.

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