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One Family Survivor: 1972 Pontiac Catalina


I have this thing for black cars. Black, to me, is the hardest color to paint a car because the surfaces have to be perfect underneath. At the same time, it’s extremely elegant and classy, and this big Pontiac coupe is no exception. It’s in Novi, Michigan and is up for sale by the original owners’ child here on eBay. Bidding begins at $4,000.


This is a one-family car, and the owners state it has only 62,000 original miles and has been owned by non-smokers. Since I’m trying to figure out how to get the smoke smell out of a car I recently inherited, that sounds pretty good to me right now.


The seller tells us about a few spots of corrosion in the quarter panels and at the base of the doors. They aren’t really visible in these distance shots, but thankfully the seller included some closeups.


Not too bad; you might even get away with addressing them locally rather than major repainting. I hope so, because the factory finish looks great in almost everywhere else.


It shouldn’t surprise you that in a car that has been this well taken care of the interior looks great as well. Additionally, look at the reflection of the photographer in the fender; that’s shiny black paint for you! For those of you born after the age of vinyl tops, this is what’s known as a “triple black” car: black paint, interior and top. The ad states that the car has no modifications at all, but that the gas gauge and factory air conditioning do not work.


The condition of the engine compartment lets down the rest of the car, but we have to remember that this was purchased as transportation, not as a classic car. The 400 cubic inch V8 is fed by only a two barrel carburetor in Pontiac’s attempt to combine torque with a modicum of gas mileage. I think a good day spent detailing under here would work wonders. Do any of you remember foaming engine cleaner? I remember my Dad having me use that on cars we bought after covering all the important parts with plastic wrap. I think this might take a couple of cans. Maybe three! That being said, I think this find is interesting, and a large part of my interest is generated from the chance to purchase the car from the original family. Did they name it? What special trips did it go on? I think it would be terrific to have the history along with the car; what do you think?



  1. Joe

    This is a Big Car. I think a starting bid of $4000 is too high for a 1972 in this condition. Rust showing only merits “Fair” not “Good” Condition” in any of the value guides. Triple Black looks nice but is awfully hot in summer and unbearable without AC. Like driving in an oven at 375 degrees. With working AC it could be OK, but plan on investing significant $ on this repair–and may not blow cold enough with a R-134 conversion in my experience.

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  2. joeinthousandoaks

    I love black on black cars too. This would look great with some period American’s or Pontiac Rally wheels. I would think $4k is all the money though.

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  3. Don E

    @jaime: try Ozium spray arousal to remove the smoke smell. Turn on the heater/AC. Spray generously into the blower motor air intake heavily, under the dash. After that, roll the windows up, then fog under the seats from outside the car. When the car is filled up with a fog bank, close the doors and let it fumigate for days if possible. Beware of the caustic nature of the fumes, it can take your breath away!

    Hope that helps.

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  4. JW454


    Here’s another “home remedy” for the smoke smell. After you wipe down all the surfaces you can with an appropriate cleaner, white vinegar is a good one:
    1. Get a whole bag of oranges.
    2. Eat all the oranges and save all the peelings.
    3. Put the peels on paper plates and put them in the car.
    4. Close the car up and walk away.
    5. Leave the car closed for several days.
    6. Open the car and discard the orange peels.
    7. Enjoy your car without the smoke smell.
    The more orange peels you use, the better it works. Give it a try.

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    • Paul Bellefeuille

      Fresh coffee grounds work well too..

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  5. Rock On Member

    When I sold used cars, we used to use Spray Nine in the wash up bay. I bought a Camaro that was traded in. The owner smoked two packs a day. Spray down all hard surfaces and wipe dry. May need multiple applications. You will know when you are done , when your rags are no longer brown!

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  6. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Thanks, folks!!! I’ll let you know how successful I am 🙂

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    • Mike

      A Old trick that my Dad taught me was to take the car park it out in the sun with all windows rolled up. Take Pine Sol cleaner put in it a plastic bucket straight and set it in the floor board, let set for a couple of days then go out and start and run the blowers for 10 minutes or so with Pine Sol still in the car and windows up. Then and the smoke smell will be gone, if it does not work the first time try again. I have used this trick many of times and it works. With the different scents you can get today it does not have to smell like the old Pine Sol smell. I just did this a couple of months ago on a Buick that a friend bought and it had the smell of a chain smoker!!!!!

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  7. Charles

    Obviously a well loved old car. It is not worth much money though. Fix the rust, AC, fuel gauge, and probably a host of incidentals that are not mentioned, and you could have a decent weekend driver. Still not worth much money…

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  8. DrinkinGasoline

    First thing I did to my ’71 Catalina 400 was to remove the splitting dark green vinyl top with aircraft grade stripper, fill the seams with lead then paint it white. The white over pale green body looked pretty decent. It would blow the doors off my ’72 Delta 88 350 gold motor.

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  9. Zack

    Ozium works without question. Purchased an ’80 something passenger van 20 years ago from an old couple that both smoked non-stop….nastiest smell ever… I almost passed on the deal….noone else would buy it they said….they darn near gave it to me just to take it since no one showed any interest… One can of Ozium fogger in a can(purchased at a janitor supply store)…set it off in the middle of the floor in the back…closed the doors tight…crossed my fingers and walked away for 24 hours….opened it up….couldn’t believe it. That stuff kills the germs that cause the smell….. but it won’t remove the yellow from the glass or any other discoloration.
    And that van was one of those with all the heavy, thick velour, corduroy materials that just love to soak up scents and whatever…..oh, and that thick almost shag carpet…. six captains chairs of that stuff…. I still cannot believe that worked that well, cause I personally hate that smell… If it hadn’t worked I was gonna have to light fire to it… with that much smell of smoke it was half way there…..

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  10. Roger

    My first tagged car I had was a triple white 72 Catalina convertible. Got when I turned 16 back in 94. Had their 400 in it, would pass everything but a gas station but I’m sure being a lead footed 16 yo had something to do with it 😊 and gas was about a buck. Car was in great condition when we got it, had their rallye’s on it. Got it from a local shop for $1000. All we had to do to it was a good set of tires and a new battery and that was it beside a good wash and wax. Loved that car and oh what memories!!!!

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  11. Matt

    I bought this car and man is it a survivor. I replaced the compressor clutch and charged it and Ac is blowing COLD out of pocket 110$. As far as the rust areas they were ground down treated and painted with a nice blend and you can only tell if I pointed it out. Put a 40$ sending unit in the tank, I fixed a blown exhaust donut, pressure washed the engine compartment and sprayed a few cans of black semigloss and 30min later painting it and it looks very presentable. Other than that it’s in really good shape. Now, a lot of you guys were saying 4K is alot or too much for this car? I didn’t buy it for resale value I absolutely love this car, but how many cars in this condition do you see let alone for this price. The dash, the horn lights am radio interior carpet is all in perfect shape original and looks like the car is maybe only a few years old. I challenge you to find/buy a comparable car for the price because you won’t. Maybe 10-15 years ago it would have went for 1500/2k. They are disappearing quick. Also it’s rare to find 3x black cars from this era it was a dated early 60s color combo everything was cream teal or orange. Now I t’s not a 69 Camaro and for that I’m happy, everyone with 35k spending cash and a Tommy Bahamas’s shirt has one… but i see in it that it has a lot more style and is very unique. everyone who rides in it can’t believe the quality of the ride and the interior condition, as far as I’m concerned I full on scored, I’m very happy with the car. If you like loud, dime a dozen red muscle cars with crager wheels chrome valve covers and a ratchet shifter, this is not the car for you. However, if you can appreciate American 70s period (time capsule/survivor) style comfort and driveability.. well less than 4K won’t get you anything running or needing total restoration. My other black stallion 427 64 elco

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    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Congratulations, Matt, and thanks for updating us! I’m glad you like the car so much–it seemed like a nice one to me!

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    • Eric bottom

      Hey Mat. Do you still have the black Catalina? Wouldn’t mine buying it?$

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  12. socaljoe

    Well done. Enjoy!

    Like 0

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