Overhead Cam Six: 1967 Pontiac Tempest Wagon

It’s sometimes easy to forget that General Motors was quite an innovative company in the 1960s. One example of this forward-thinking was the overhead cam six-cylinder (OHC6) engine that was the brainchild of Pontiac Chief Engineer John DeLorean. At the time of its 1966 introduction, the OHC6 was considered the most advanced powerplant ever offered to the public by GM. It not only featured an overhead camshaft, but it was also the first mass-produced engine to use a timing belt, a combination that would become commonplace in subsequent decades. Initially available in the Pontiac Tempest and Firebird, the OHC6 was produced through 1969 when it fell out of favor due to the availability of cheap gas and being priced around the same as a base V8. This 1967 Pontiac Tempest wagon, available here on eBay in Tucson, Arizona, is equipped with an OHC6 that has recently been started after sitting since 1982. Thanks to Barn Finds readers local_sheriff and Dayle Gray for the tip!

Having sat in the desert for nearly four decades, the body and interior of this wagon are both pretty sunbaked. The seller uses the P-word (patina), but this is beyond that, with paint missing from a good portion of the body. Despite the abundance of surface rust, there does not seem to be much rust perforation. The most prominent rust holes visible in the photos appear to be the result of leaking windshield and window gaskets. There are also some crusty areas in the floorboards which a potential buyer would want to poke around with a flathead screwdriver.

The interior is in rough condition with shredded seats, a fallen headliner, and cracked dash. The floor is covered in rubber mats instead of carpet and these could be hiding more rust from the leaking windows. This car will need a complete interior, but it might be worth it if the body is not too far gone.

As previously mentioned, the OHC6 is what sets this Tempest apart from most other mid-size GM vehicles of the era. Under the hood is the 230 cubic inch version, which was enlarged to 250 in 1968. The owner states that they oiled down the cylinder walls, installed new spark plugs and a rebuilt starter, and fired it up with a remote gas can. Additionally, they bled the brakes and topped up the transmission and power steering fluid and took it for a short drive. It needs more work to be roadworthy, but this should at least give the next owner the confidence that it runs and drives.

1966 Pontiac Tempest OHC6 ad, courtesy of Curbside Classic

With fewer than three days left to go, this Tempest has been bid up to almost $4000 by 40 bidders. One interesting direction to take this car in would be to upgrade it to the Sprint performance option, which consisted of a four-barrel Rochester Quadrajet carburetor with better breathing intake and exhaust manifolds. Do you think the unique engine makes this weathered old wagon worth saving?

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Comments

  1. Ron Trainor

    Update the drivetrain to 400cu in and a 4 speed. Light green paint for 67 and work on the interior as you drive and enjoy!

    Like 14
  2. Ed Hardt

    Put the engine in a museum and put an LS under the hood.

    Like 17
    • Dave

      With a turbo

      Like 6
    • Dan Ross

      5.3 ls. clear coat and enjoy

      Like 2
  3. JoeNYWF64

    Could this wagon have had a vinyl roof? – tho i don’t recall seeing any domestic station wagon with one back in the day.

  4. Miguel - Mexican Spec

    I love this car the way it is. You will have the only one on the block.

    This engine was no slouch even compared to the V8’s at the time.

    Like 25
  5. MotorWinder

    I remember thirty some years ago seeing one of these engines for the first time in a Firebird, car sold for cheap … another I should bought …

    But this wagon with a little paint would be nice just as it is, as a daily runner !!

    Like 18
  6. Ralph

    As rare as these engines are today I would consider putting a V8 in the bay, and hunting for a better body to restore and drop the OHC 6 into.
    If keeping the OHC 6, is not a priority, would consider a rebuild, and sale on maybe BAT? That would help defer the cost of saving the wagon. Somewhat…
    This wagon looks like it could take an easy 20K or more to handle exterior work, the interior will not be a cheap project either.
    Even though Arizona is dry, rust never sleeps anywhere. Not sure this one will ever pay off, especially when time for a sale of it comes. YMMV

    Like 4
  7. Evan

    “the OHC6 was considered the most advanced powerplant ever offered to the public by GM.”

    Interesting statement from GM. Although sales of the model were puny by 1967, you could still walk into a Chevrolet dealer and order a Corvair.

    I would find it tough to argue that an old iron-block 6 with a OHC head slapped on it is more advanced than an aluminum flat 6.

    Like 6
  8. Robert White

    43 BIDS SO FAR and it’s under $4k so far.

    I’d pull the motor and sell it to the highest bidder. Then I would dump in a big block 454 or 502 if I was going to splurge. This wagon is only good with a big block, believe me. And the rear diff is not pozitraction on this car so that would have to changed to 12 bolt-p.

    These cars had bad frames where with enough rear end torque hitting the rear tires enough times you will break the frame right under the driver’s butt.

    Bad driveshaft set up for torque too.

    Bob

    Like 2
  9. salsa

    I would make it a lowrider with hydraulics.

    Like 4
  10. Clark Kent

    Why is the front end not rusted like the rest ? Seems strange…

    Like 1
    • Dayle Gray

      could be 2 reasons, the first is how it was parked and I think the front half could of been in a carport for the last 40 yrs, also, the front ends on these cars where painted at a different location when being built, and then put together on the assembly line..same paint, but different.

      Like 1
    • johnny

      I’ve stripped, prepped and repainted many,many GM cars over the last 50 plus years and noticed a long time ago that the front clips used black epoxy as their primer and red oxide baked enamel primer on the bodies. And like mentioned below, the bodies and front clips were painted in two different facilities, then married together for the first time on the assembly line. The red oxide enamel was softer And not as durable as the black epoxy IMHO, hence you’ll notice that on many survivor GM cars you can see the black undercoat on the front clip which is usually and much better shape than the red oxide undercoat on the bodies. They never were perfect matches especially with metallics but so close most people didn’t notice the difference.

      Like 2
  11. Motorsport Whse

    Id turbo the OHC 6 cyl in there, add ac, do the interior and drive it like that …..every single dayyyy.
    I dont even mind the rims, but maybe put some 18″ Ralleys on it too. Wouldnt touch the body. They are only original……once.

    Like 4
    • JoeNYWF64

      18″ wheels – for what purpose? -> to make the car look newer? rougher ride? more unspring weight? blown out tires & bent wheels when you hit a pothole? worse mpg? slower acceleration? worse braking? tires you can’t even tell are low on air by just looking at them? no Q U I E T –> S 15″?
      Old school high profile tires/smaller wheels on the back of this modern car – for a reason!!! –>
      https://www.autoblog.com/photos/2020-dodge-challenger-drag-pak-sema-2019/#slide-2183468

      Like 10
      • JoeNYWF64

        typo above – the SOUND of all modern NON S rated radials drive me nuts today – & i’ve tried a lot of brands & non S ratings, not to mention not lasting as long as S rated tires. & S rated tires are ONLY avail in sizes 15″ or smaller.

        Like 2
      • Dayle Gray

        the purpose ? better handling, a slightly updated more modern look for starters.
        If I want better mpg, Ill drive my toyota. This would be a great daily or cruise mobile any day of the week. My city isnt littered with potholes, and when I do seen one, I generally drive around it ..big deal. The cars not meant to be a speed demon. Load up the family and take a drive. If I felt I needed more power, Id turbo it and update the brakes to disc maybe upfront. It already has pb and stops well…..pretty obvious why 18″ wheels n tires would be a good fit.

        Like 2
  12. That Guy

    In high school I worked at the neighborhood liquor store stocking shelves and making deliveries. The owner had a Tempest coupe with the OHC 6 and three on the tree, which I often used for deliveries. It was quicker than you might think and rather fun to drive. I think binning the six and turning this car into just another LS restomod would be doing it a real disservice.

    Like 22
  13. Jim in FL

    I restored a 67 four door in this same color with the OHC 6. Although parts were scarce, it ran great when done and even with a powerglide, I pulled 20 mpg, including highway driving. It was my daily from 1987-1990. When I wanted to trade up to a convertible, the resale was dismal. But i still remember the fun of a young guy with no money and lots of time restoring it. If this were closer to the east coast, I would make a run at it.

    Like 6
  14. Tom

    Parts for the OHC 6 motor that was discontinued in 1969 are all but impossible to find. I have a 1968 Firebird and I eventually gave up and stuffed a V8 under the hood. No longer original but it runs, sounds and drives much better.

    • Willam r HALL

      Outside of a timing belt and overhead cam this motor is the same as any 250 chevy six of that vintage,

  15. TommyC

    I know this is probably getting tiring, but this car screams for a LS or LT swap. Body looks gret as it sits.

  16. Bikefixr

    Fix the rust perf. Stabilize the rest. ive it a scuff and a matte clear coat. New interior, rebuild the suspension. Pontiac Rally’s. Then freshen the 6. It’s too cool not to use. Header, manifold, small 4bbl vac. High lift cam and a quality valve job and some bowl blending. This could be a wicked cool car for $15g’s.

    Like 9
  17. Bill

    That’s DeLorean’s drive train. Leave as is. Add FI etc.

    Like 2
  18. Ron S

    Keep the OHC six, upgrade the intake and exhaust, restore the body and interior and I’d enjoy it immensely.
    Talk of ditching this engine for a SBC says that there’s been no experience with it.
    DeLorean was out to one up BMW in six cylinder refinement and power delivery and he nailed it. It’s a very smooth running engine and power output is easily increased…
    My uncle bought a new ‘68 Tempest hardtop 2 door OHC with a rare floor mounted 3 speed manual which was a huge upgrade from the 2 speed Powerglide. It had buckets and I’m thinking it had an Endura nose.
    He was a GM engineer but had a few nice BMW’s at the time and he considered the Tempest his “European GTO.
    I drove it and was really impressed even though I was driving my ‘67 Mustang GT 390 at the time…

    Like 2
  19. pwtiger

    I don’t know if this is an interference motor but I think that the timing belt should be replaced ASAP! I’d source a hood tach from a Firebird. It might be fun to build up the 6 banger with more cubes and compression…

    Like 6
    • Dayle Gray

      think these where about 8.5 or 9:1…the Sprint option had higher compression. Its a huge cog style belt, but not sure if its interference or not.

  20. Bill

    That’s DeLoreans’s drivetrain. Add FI as needed but honor it’s integrity.

    Like 2
  21. BIMMERBILL

    OK I am going to go against all you dreamers and state I would install the factory 4 barrel manifold / split exhaust manifold and if possibly find the head that went with these items and I am going to tear you up on gas mileage if that means anything to anyone other than myself. By the way they use to put a Chevy truck 292 crank in these and with a little overbore they put out a little over 300 cubic inches and you could drive it on the street with that factory 4 barrel cam. Need a hotter ignition, you could adapt an HEI distributor. I know this will not have all the electronics the new cars have but I would love to own it.
    I will make one more statement for the OWNER – DON’T CRANK THAT CAR AGAIN UNTIL IT HAS A NEW TIMING BELT. It has been setting for so long it has developed a ‘SET’ in it which means it has weak spots and will break, just like our newer cars with their timing belts after sitting for a number of years.

    Like 9
  22. George Richardson

    I’ve got an OHC head for a Pontiac. Did a valve job on it, guy paid for it, than never came and got it. About 30 years ago.

    Like 6
  23. JoeNYWF64

    I would love to see/hear the reaction at a car show if a 1st gen CHEVY camaro (or any old small-to-midsize Chevy) showed up with this motor under the hood.
    Or with any NON CHEVY V8 under the hood.
    I have never seen either.

    Like 6
  24. Mike M.

    You have to give the seller credit, probably the best photographed car I’ve seen in a long time! They’re not trying to hide anything, well represented.
    A very cool car, but there’s a lot of work there….

    Like 3
  25. Steve Clinton

    attack of the patina monster!

    Like 1
  26. Marshall King

    My first car was a 67 Firebird with the Sprint 6 in it. That was a great car, loads of fun, handled great, and ran like crazy! Used to surprise many people with it, as when the secondaries kicked in, it would fly. Had a guy with an AMX with 390 who didn’t believe it had a six in it. While I lost to him in a quick run on the highway, I kept up with him until we got up to around 90. Mine had a three speed on the floor. He pulled up next to me in a parking lot and asked what I was running in my Bird. Had to pop the hood to prove it was the 6. Also had a small round air cleaner on it, so when the carb opened up, you could really hear the air being sucked in. Wish I still had it! Mine was red with black convertible top and black interior.

    Like 6
    • alphasud Member

      I rode in a 67 or 68 Sprint with the OHC. He drove the sh1t out of it and I was impressed of how quick it was and how well it handled. I still remember how hard 2nd gear hit when he shifted. Seriously thought the dash was going to fall in my lap! That was one tough car to stand up to that type of driving.

      Like 2
  27. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    Back around 70-71 a friend of mine had a 67 Firebird with the overhead cam engine. I had a 69 Firebird 400. His was three speed manual, mine was turbo 400 automatic. We both loved our cars. We knew each other from 1st grade into adulthood. Ron went to Alaska in search of his fortune, never heard from him again.
    God bless America

    Like 7
  28. Pugsy

    Damn….couldn’t this wait ten years. I’ll be in the market for a wagon then, to slice out the back doors. GTO grill on the front, 2 doors, sweet.

  29. Bob-O

    Definitely keep the six and upgrade it to the 4-barrel Sprint version. Then I’d make sure it had a three or four-speed automatic or a 4-speed manual and a 3.42 to 3.55 limited-slip rear gear.

    Like 6
  30. Kenn

    My son has a sedan with the six. It’s as fast as previously mentioned. Don’t ruin this car with a V8. It’s special the way it is.

    Like 7
  31. Kevin

    You just don’t see these anymore,it will be cool all original and restored,or hopped up,my request to any buyer is,please keep it all Pontiac, no dang ls swap,like so many do.

    Like 4
  32. Tom

    In my opinion it would be a shame to LS swap this car. It would be really cool to add Holley Sniper fuel injection, 2004R, Vintage Air and disc brakes and drive the wheels off of it. Kind of a one off Sprint wagon

    Like 6
  33. JoeNYWF64

    Willam r HALL, rockauto does not list a water pump for either of the OHC 6s or a rebuilt optional 4bbl rochester carb, tho u may be able to find a rebuilt pump on ebay for $150(never a new one i would think), & send out the 4bbl to be rebuilt, assuming the shop can get the parts for that unique smaller qjet carb.
    & the OHC motors have more unique pontiac parts than you might think … http://www.ohc6.com/history.html

    Dayle Gray, you obviously have not driven on the roads in the snow belt during the late winter thaw when none of the many new potholes have yet to be filled. I’ve hit a few at least 50% of the time i drive(they are all over the local roads & highways & often impossible to avoid) & I have seen my share of bent big wheels & blown out big tires on the side of the road.
    I know of several county roads in my area that have NEVER been paved since i started driving in ’72! – just patched – terribly. COUNTY roads are the LAST to be paved – if ever. lol For some reason, the potholes here are often “forgotten about” on highways where the lane border lines are – so sometimes you will have a nasty surprise changing lanes. lol
    & my least fav section of road is 1 that is under an overpass that has no lights & is dark as heck there. For some reason it is believed potholes do not occur there(they are so wrong!), so there’s no need for anyone to check, let alone fill them. lol

    I remember driving a lightweight ’69 camaro no a/c with lighter than a small block 250 ohv 6 & the car handled VERY well with non stock 60 series radials & adco polyurethane sway bar bushings. & it stopped good too with rare optional factory disc brakes on 15″ wheels.
    Don’t get me wrong – with original back in 1969 78! series profile skinny bias ply tires & 4 wheel drum brakes, the camaro did handle & brake lousy!
    ’70s t/a’s with stock disc/drum brakes, adco bushings & non stock 235 60 15s handled lot better than stock & stopped shorter than some earlier 4 wheel disc brake cars! – excellent brakes & handling. The roads are rough enough around here & i would not want even rougher riding 18″s on any ’70’s t/a!
    Plus the raised white lettering & redlines look just soooo good & right on 15″ tires for ’68-’71 musclecars – & look terrible on the few huge very low profile tires i have seen them applied to.
    Lastly, unless you drive a lot on racing tracks, to explore the somewhat better handling of 16″ or bigger wheels on the above cars on public roads would probably get you a reckless driving ticket which you do NOT want these days!
    & you could conceivably hit a pedestrian crossing a road after a turn who is looking down at the phone.

    Like 1
    • Bill Hall

      Just because you can”t find a new carb or water pump from Rock Auto is no big deal, Plenty of people to rebuild these items all over the country. Just requires some research.

      Like 3
  34. R.Lee

    Strip it use it for parts. Just like all the others, no reason to keep this one. The engine was last made in 69 and the parts for it discontinued in 70. That should be your first sign.

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