Original Survivor: 1964 Pontiac Bonneville

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This 1964 Pontiac Bonneville is one of those classics that appear from time-to-time and leaves the buyer to face some decisions. It presents well from a distance, and the only apparent rust is minor. That raises the question of whether the new owner would drive it as-is, or whether they would treat it to the light cosmetic work required to return it to its absolute best. Barn Finder local_sheriff referred the Pontiac to us, and I have to say thank you for that. The Bonneville is located in Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set a BIN of $11,750, but the option is available to make an offer.

The Bonneville is finished in Marimba Red with a Cameo Ivory top. The car presents well from a distance, but a closer inspection does reveal some fading and other issues with the paint. These are particularly prevalent on the red horizontal surfaces, and the deterioration is beyond what could be addressed with a wet sand and buffing. These surfaces would benefit from a repaint, although this is by no means an urgent requirement. The other issue that a buyer might want to consider is originality. It seems that the Pontiac has never been restored, which makes it a survivor. There will be people who will want to retain that originality, and I respect and understand that view. The final decision will come down to a matter of personal preference. The only rust of any note is a small spot on the driver’s side just forward of the rear wheel arch. This spot is about 2″ square and could be fixed with a patch. The rest of the panels are clean, and the photos of the vehicle’s underside reveal no problems with the floor or frame. The glass looks good, as does the majority of the exterior trim and chrome. If the buyer chooses to treat the exterior to a cosmetic refresh, sending the bumpers to the platers might not be a bad move. The front one has some rust spots, but quick action should stop it from deteriorating further.

The presentation of the Bonneville’s interior is generally good, especially for white upholstery of this age. Some of the outer piping on the seats has begun to yellow, but a professional cleaner might return it to its dazzling best. There is a button missing off the front seat, so that would need to be replaced. The rest of the trim has survived the last 56-years remarkably well, and even those couple of upholstery issues that I have mentioned aren’t urgent. Probably the big-ticket item is going to be the steering wheel. This has deteriorated and cracked badly and will need to be restored or replaced. Many older wheels can be fixed in a home workshop, but the transparent combination of these wheels makes it a specialist job. Reproduction wheels can be found for around $500, and having this wheel restored will cost about the same. So I guess that you would need to toss a coin on that. The Pontiac isn’t loaded with luxury extras, although a power front seat is a nice touch.

From an engine perspective, this vehicle takes the “middle ground.” What we find is a 389ci 4-barrel V8, which produces 303hp. This is backed by a 3-speed Hydramatic transmission, while the vehicle is equipped with power steering, power brakes, and a dual exhaust. The owner states that the Pontiac has covered a genuine 54,000 miles, but he doesn’t indicate whether he holds evidence to verify this. Once again, the news is good. The vehicle is said to run and drive exceptionally well. I would think that it would also sound pretty nice breathing through that dual exhaust. The engine bay shows promise, and I think that it would come up a treat with a bit of careful detailing.

This 1964 Pontiac Bonneville would suit a buyer searching for a classic that is ready to be driven and enjoyed immediately. It would also be an ideal candidate for any enthusiast that is searching for a straightforward restoration project. Its rust problems are so minor that they could be addressed when time and circumstances allow it. I can’t help but think that with the colder weather on the way, treating this classic to a cosmetic restoration would be a great way to pass those Winter months. I can think of worse things to do.

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  1. Rex Kahrs Rex KahrsMember

    Great looking car, right up my alley. I wouldn’t consider the 389 4V any sort of compromise, I’m sure it’s plenty powerful. And the steering wheel is too cool not to restore or replace with a re-pop.

    Like 10
    • local_sheriff

      Yup, even a 389 in base Bonneville 303hp form is shockingly responsive for such a massive barge. As many here will know I own the Safari version of this Bonne and even when backed by the ‘medieval’ dual-coupling Hydramatic she will not hesitate to roast tires when provoked.

      Yes; the clear wheel is über-cool but be prepared to cough up WAY more to have it professionally restored. I was quoted $1.500+ to have mine done and that did not include the horn ring or button. So…, that’s not on my priority list – but when I win the lottery maybe…

      Like 4
      • ToledoSteve

        I have a nice 1957 Pontiac Chieftain Catalina 2 Dr. Hardtop that is pretty much original including paint. Many years ago when I was turning a corner, (no power steering) a weld broke on the steering wheel hub and the horn blew every time I turned the wheel. Got the car home,pulled the wheel and eventually installed one from a junkyard that had multiple cracks in it. I want to restore the steering wheel but it is a pearl looking white wheel and I would like it to look original after restoration. Do you have knowledge of, or experience with any steering wheel restoration companies? Thank you for any help you can offer. My mom bought this car new and I try to keep it as original looking as possible.

        Like 1
      • local_sheriff

        Steve; try Dennis Crooks(!), San Diego Ca


        I have no PERSONAL experience as a customer , other than he seems very professional and responds thoroughly on emails. I had to dig deep in my mailbox to retrieve our communication, turns out restoring my clear Pontiac wheel would be a whopping $1.975(!) 😬 Best wishes

        Like 1
      • art

        You are right. A 1964 Bonneville Coupe in black, was my third vehicle and trust me and Local Sheriff, that car moves like nobody’s business. Mine had the factory single exhaust and if I floored it, especially under an overpass, the exhaust was mean. It also had a knack for wanting lots of premium fuel.
        Loved that car.

        Like 3
  2. Big_FunMember

    This has the classic elegance with the touch of sport that is synonymous with 60’s Pontiac. Price would be higher if this was a Grand Prix. The 4bbl is a plus,, also. The hubcaps look like the 8 lugs…from a distance. The door panels/trims/cards and seat pattern look custom, but a little research shows its factory.
    There might be a big surprise if you take off those stainless rockers..
    Love to own this – but with a lower four figure purchase price, not the five figure one offered.

    Like 1
    • CapNemo Frank Stein

      Door panels.

      Like 2
  3. HoA Howard AMember

    Nice! Most Bonne’s were equipped just this way. Not overly fancy, fact is, for a Bonneville, it’s kind of plain, but even a plain Bonneville was plenty nice. Some may remember, my late uncle had a ’61 Ventura and a ’65 Catalina. Fantastic road cars, even on bias-ply tires at the time. Being the tight wad that I am ( thanks, dad) a bit steep, but be no remorse here. Left lane car, for sure. If there ever was a car that needed the “speed safety sentinel”, it was this. Great find.

    Like 10
  4. Mark

    Nice car and worth every penny IMO.
    I had a 64 Catalina 2 door aqua with the white top. A great cruiser. Style is just as appealing today as it was back in 64. These are getting harder to find.

    Like 8
  5. Mark

    Yes yes yes. I love it and I want it. But I am financially embarrassed

    My dad had a 64 Catalina coupe with the Ventura interior package. Silver. Black top and interior.

    He bought it when his friend went to pick up his new 68 Bonneville coupe.

    The Pontiac dealer loved my dads friend. He bought new Pontiac’s every 2 years.

    But bringing in a guy wanting to buy your trade in is icing on the cake.

    The 64 was one of the best riding cars from my childhood. He had it from December 1967 to May 1972.

    Like 6
  6. TMK

    You gotta admit the Pontiac and some of the Oldsmoblie had class in the 60’s compare to what out there today

    Like 7
  7. Phil G

    My favorite big Pontiac of that era. There’s just something about the clean lines, those ‘banana’ tail lights and the stacked headlamps.
    As a kid I built an AMT model of this very car. Who remembers finding the small sheet of red plastic parts, carefully separating the tail light lenses, and delicately gluing them into the chrome plated bumper? That was the best part of the build!
    I’m afraid I was a bit hard on some of my models though, thanks in part to those Liberty Mutual ads featuring stunt driver Joey Chitwood!!

    Like 7
    • William Fox

      Phil, you’ll be happy to know that the `64 AMT kit of this Bonneville coupe, in mint condition (unbuilt) brings about $175-$200. today. I am an adult modeler, and looking for one of these I can afford. Still looking…

      Like 3
      • Phil G

        Wow, talk about inflation! Good luck finding one William. Those kits only cost a couple of bucks each at the corner drug store in the ’60’s.

        Like 3
  8. TruckOfficer

    Had one that was all red with red interior. My high school driver in 1970. Then in then college and AirForce. You have no idea how many cases of beer you could carry in that trunk. Let alone bodies sneaking into the drive in theater. Looks like this one also had the radio REVERB switch at the middle top of dash.
    Lots of memories. The big front bench seat had its advantages also👍

    Like 2
  9. pwtiger

    I would leave the cosmetics alone and drive it as is, these old GM cars had lacquer paint that became porous over time. To do a proper repaint it would have to be stripped down to the metal and treated properly to cure any surface rust. Keep her in a garage and drive it on sunny days…

    Like 4
  10. 4501 Safari

    The automatic transmission is a Hydramatic 315 and the last year for this 4-speed hydro. I have the same car and a spare engine/transmission from Mom’s ’64 Star Chief purchased at the end of the ’64 model year. It ended up with the special police/taxi heavy duty 315. Doing that bit of research was a surprise. The car here is a very basic Bonneville but they are all fine cars on many levels and can be considered a blank paper if you want go down that road and make it all it could be.

    Like 6
    • Jack Lounsbury

      Correct on the 4 speed automatic in the long wheelbase Starchief and Bonnevilles from 61 to 64.

      Like 1
  11. ToledoSteve

    I agree with 4501 Safari. The Bonnevilles and Star Chiefs had a four speed automatic while the Catalinas and Grand Prixs used the slim jim 3 speed(not a very good transmission) My grandfather had a 64 Bonneville convertible and my mom had a 64 Catalina/Ventura 2 dr hardtop that spent a lot of time in transmission shops. The following year GM switched to Turbo 400s. I bought the AMT model and painted it the same ‘Fire Orange’ as my grandfathers convertible using spray touch up rattle cans from Dupli-Color. I never assembled it though and think I will put it together this winter. The 4 speed Hydramatic in the Bonneville was a great transmission and proved to be trouble-free even though it was a Tri-Power car and would easily light up the tires(sorry,grandpa) It had 8 lug wheels, power windows,seats,steering, brakes and a reel out trunk light.The white interior and top made this car one of my all time favorite convertibles almost up there with my red 65 GTO Tri-Power convertible.I also have the AMT model of that car painted but not assembled and will put it together this winter. This ad brought back a lot of memories for me.Thanks!

    Like 5
  12. Dabig Kahuna

    Came to California via route 66 in a then new 64 Catalina with my family. Big step up from the 6cyl stick 59 impala my dad traded in. With the 389 it cruised through the mountains with ease.

    Like 3
  13. stillrunners

    Should be gone by now….nice at the price.

    Like 0
  14. David Sr.

    I had a 64 Pontiac Grand Prix with a factory 4 Speed. Black with gold interior. Sure wish I still had it. Big honking Pontiac’s has always been my favorite. Now I want a 65 GTO with 4 speed but can’t afford one

    Like 1
  15. Dale S.

    With the exception of one 1961 station wagon, my dad always bought 4 door sedans. In 1964 he surprised the family with a new silver blue Catalina 4 door sedan. This was the first, and only 4 door I really liked. If I had the money, and space I would love to get my hands on a 64 Grand Prix now. One of our neighbors bought a 65 Grand Prix a year later, but it looked like an overblown 63 to me.

    Like 0

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