Potential Bargain! 1962 Pontiac Tempest LeMans

This beautiful little car is a 1962 Pontiac Tempest LeMans Convertible and it sure looks like a nice one. The price is nice, too. It’s listed on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $5,900 or you can make an offer. It’s already price below what I would have thought, given Hagerty’s $7,700 #3 “good” value or the $11,900 #2 “excellent” value. Hmm..  This car is located in.. somewhere in the US, the seller doesn’t give a city or state, but the license plates say California.

This isn’t the fire-breathing LeMans that we all know and love, but a LeMans top-line trim package for the Tempest. 1962 was the last year for the Tempest LeMans as in 1963 the LeMans became a separate series. The body looks as close to perfect as can be on this car. The seller says that it has, “solid floors, a couple quarter size rust through spots in trunk.” Hopefully things aren’t too bad underneath.

This car looks fantastic to me, the market must be soft for these cars, I can’t believe that it’s still for sale for this price. It’s an all-original car owned by the same family since new – the seller purchased it from the grandson of the original owner. They mention that the top needs work, or actually it needs “top upholstery, hydraulic pump and actuators rebuilt for power top (currently manually operated).” That may explain why there are no photos of the car with the top up, and why it’s priced below what it seems like it should be.

The interior looks good, but the seller is including a “carpet kit and rear seat upholstery kit included (Started an interior refresh)” so that’s nice. You can see that the door panels have seen better days, but if they aren’t rusty, as in with rust-through, the next owner can spruce those things up in a few weekends. I think I see a crack in the driver’s side of the windshield? That’s another thing for the list, and another reason it’s priced below the average value.

This engine is Pontiac’s “Trophy Four”, a 195 (194.5) cubic-inch “slant-four”, basically the right half of a 389 V8 – no really! And, if that isn’t enough, this car has the coveted “power pack” which is a factory four-barrel carburetor giving this engine 166 hp compared to 110 hp! These engines were known to shake, so they were mounted on flexible rubber mounts, and the unusual driveshaft and rear transaxle further dampened the engine shake. That worked, until a spark plug fouled or the engine needed a tune-up and then things got funky. The 195 engine was dropped after 1963. Doesn’t this seem like a good price for a car in this condition? I would think that a few weekends of work and this would be a fantastic car in both looks and working condition.

Fast Finds


  1. Fred W.

    I’d be all over this one if I were in the market. Looks like an easy fix. Of course you would want to have the top professionally done.

  2. Van

    I’d say get a second hood, paint to match and add 64 GTO hood scoops. “I don’t know Sr., sombody said it was a prototype” fun at caffeine and octane. The original hood ready for resale.

  3. Luke Fitzgerald

    Rubbish drivetrain – can’t imagine why they dropped it….and before anyone throws rocks, I’m a poncho guy

  4. wuzjeepnowsaab

    ? Why isn’t this gonegonegone! Pretty little car…160hp should move this along nicely and 4 cyl should give decent mpg’s even for an old gen engine

  5. Rock On

    I would definitely put the other half of the engine back in the car.

    • MadHungarian

      I have long thought about whether you could do that on one of these — i.e., would a full 389 fit. Looks like it might — however, I suspect the torque would destroy the rest of the drivetrain in a proverbial New York Minute.

      • Ralph

        They offered a 389 in these for 1963, so it could handle it, there were some of these made for drag racing with 421 and heavy duty transaxle.

      • Greg Member

        I own one just like this only black w/black & red interior. With 50/50 weight distribution, they’re fun to drive and really corner well. GTO racer…no, but still fun. No problems with engine shaking. And yes, you can put a 389 in it easily, although usually a Ford 9″ rear is added to handle it. And the 389 only weighs about 100 pounds more. This one was a bargain!

      • ACZ

        Ever heard of Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick?

      • Greg Member

        Thanks ACZ ! I read up on him last night. Very cool!

  6. Howard A Member

    Just doesn’t have the zing the ’62 F85 has from earlier. Obviously, the 2 cars are totally different, but still appealed to basically the same crowd. This was just too odd, a 4 barrel on a 4 cylinder??? Transaxle??? What the heck is that? “ROPE DRIVE”???, good heavens and Olds kicked Pontiac’s butt. Although, I read, the 215 V8 was an option on these, but very few were equipped that way, less than 1%.It didn’t take Pontiac long to reverse that trend. What a great find, to motor up the coast, or down to the lakefront, just don’t pick any drag races with a 2 door F85. ( or much else from that era, for that matter, 4 barrel or not)

    • George B Member

      The transaxle was the Corvair transmission mounted at the rear, as in some Alfa Romeos and the Porsche 924, I believe

      This system created a very balanced car for excellent handling, but I believe there were issues with driveshaft failures. I would hesitate to put in a larger engine but I really like these mechanically sophisticated cars

      • Loco Mikado

        And the torque converter was mounted at the rear of the transaxle. It took some tricky engineering to run the driveshaft through the transaxle to get power to the torque converter.

        Also I take the 166 hp figure with a grain of salt, the 4cly engine weighs more than a 289 Ford V8 which in comparable form(Hi Performance engine)is rated at almost twice the hp. Heck even the Pontiac OHC 6 weighs less and is rated the same hp in low compression 2bbl form.

  7. Brian R

    I wish it were in the Midwest, I’d take it home, clean it up and drive it to work at my new job at GM.

  8. SteveR

    Looks like it’s sold

    • wuzjeepnowsaab

      The “Barnfind” effect…haha

      When I posted at 7:25 it was still available.

  9. MadHungarian

    “Needs top upholstery” — I guess that’s a euphemistic way of saying “has no top.” Well, it’s gone as of half an hour ago in any event.

  10. Sam

    Gone…another great find. The Pontiac ‘vert, F85 from the other day and a wagon would make a great trio.

  11. LarryK

    Ralph , it was a 326 that was available for the 63 . I had a 63 Lemans Convertible, yellow with white top ,black interior. My car was a 4 cylinder with an Automatic transmission . When I was 16 my best friend and I drove from Calais , Maine to Clearwater, Florida in the car at speeds up to 110 mph with the top down the whole trip. The car got good mileage.

  12. 86 Vette Convertible

    Back when I was a kid, I had a cousin that had something similar to that IIRC. I think it was a 4 dr sedan. Thing is, I seem to remember her brother saying at one time it had some form of a transaxel. Is that the same type? Seems it was around the same time frame.

  13. ccrvtt

    In 1963 Paul Goldsmith shoehorned a 421 into a LeMans coupe and smoked the field in a 250-mile race. Nascar officials took notice and banned the setup. It’s my understanding that Pontiac’s V8s were all the same dimension on the outside, so if there was room for a 326 then there was room for a 389,400,421, or 455.

    The original B-O-P compacts – F85, Tempest, & Skylark – were nicely sized cars that had remarkably high trim levels for a “small car”. My first car was a 1962 Cutlass convertible. Wish I still had it.

    Like 1
    • Oingo

      You are correct they all are externally the same size.

  14. Alan

    They used these motors in usac midgets,, called them sescos or cescos?

  15. NSGray

    BTW – Not that it matters, but the ad says it was located in:
    Item location:San Jose, California, United States

  16. Smittydog

    This engine was a glorified coffee grinder.

  17. Billy Speed

    This is a duplicate of my first car in 1968, only mine was dark blue. The little Carter 4 bbl was a real conversation starter. 4-cyl, 4-bbl, 4-speed in the muscle car era ….the clutch was the weak link ,,,, it was pretty quick, as it was really light, even for a convertible… sold it to buy a CL450 Honda….what a poor decision that was!

  18. Wayne

    I used to work for A Pontiac dealer. I do not remember that the drive shaft “rope” was ever a problem. It helped ease the input forces on the Corvair transaxle.
    Swing axle rear suspension was cool until some idiot tried to pull a Ralph Nader let off the gas in the middles of the corner on under inflated tires.
    I have always liked all of the pre ’69 GM cars. Particularly the smaller pre-1964 models.

    • George B Member

      Perhaps the main thing easing the input forces was a front/rear weight distribution closer to 50/50 than the Corvair’s 32/68?

  19. Vince Bortoni

    I liked the ’63 better but didn’t the these
    cars have a transaxle.

    • Greg Member

      63 was the last year of the DeLoreon designed transaxle. They’re actually pretty bulletproof. 61-63 also had four wheel independent suspension. A lot of advanced engineering that turned up later on Corvettes and Porsches.

      • George B Member

        There was a proposal to use this same transmission/transaxle set up in his late 50s Corvette called the “Q Corvette.”

        That project was ended by the recession of 1958. Do a search on it

      • Greg Member

        Thanks George B ! I read up on the Q Corvette last night and turned out to be a really interesting story. GM could have been way ahead of the game if it hadn’t been for the 58 recession.

  20. glen

    What a nice car, and what a nice deal! Well bought. The 421 version Ralph mentions,was that a street legal car?, sounds like a rocket!

  21. Gene Boccabella

    My Cousin VINNY!!!!!!!!!!

    Like 1
  22. sam

    i had 1 like this when i was a teenager,only it was a 4 spd. don,t be fooled by the engine size. this baby would light the tires & scream the only v8,s that ever outrun me in a street drag race were big blocks.

  23. Greg Member

    Exactly! The car only weighs 2600 pounds 🚗

  24. George Livesley

    sold for asking price-$5900

    Mileage 108K

  25. Jack

    I had a ’62. headers, dyno tuned, 3 speed stick on the floor. It would beat most small block v-8’s. Timing belt drove me nuts.

  26. cris

    So what were the timing chain problems? Four cyl headers? how did it sound? Mine sounds like a tractor (quiet tractor). I am thinking about adding a baffle or small glass pack past the muffler. I replaced the pipes and muffler with stock but it still sounds a little farty to me. The pipes had been replaced with 3″. I am putting in a electronic ignition, I will see how it goes. You need to set the idle for in gear (automatic), to keep from dancing while waiting at the light. Mine is a survivor and I took it up to 85 for a mile and half and it did good. Not a hot rod but it might be mistaken for a bond car.

    Like 1
    • BOP_GUY Member

      Mine is a 62 survivor as well, with the a/t. Wayne is right, the timing chain and components were from the super duty cars. During original testing before taking the cars to market, that was a weak point. The test cars were put through the wringer, over a million miles, or so I’ve read, to test their reliability. So super duty timing chains and components were added, along with rubber bumpers to pad the vibration of the engine. But it shouldn’t sound like a tractor. You may need to replace the rubber pads, and a new timing chain and harmonic balancer would help. I also added electronic ignition and a Holley carburetor with electric choke. Get the timing set right, and you should be in great shape. Mine runs nice and smooth. I also replaced the exhaust using the original manifold. Don’t know about headers. But I got the work completed 4 years ago, and she still starts up right away every time, and runs smooth.

      • Cris Medley

        Electronic ignition and a tune up caps,plugs, timing smoothed it out. I am still not done. Has anyone tried to place a hydraulic cylinder on the motor attached to the frame at lets say 35 to 45 degrees? To dampen vibrations? And what about putting 50 lbs of lead in the rear to keep the rear from sliding out? Would this make it better or worse.

  27. Wayne

    If I remember correctly (BB you are the one that usually corrects or confirms me) the timing chain on the 4 cylinder was actually a heavier duty one than the V8s used. (additional row of rollers?) Evidently the uneven compression pulses put more stress on the cam drive components. (I think a good fluid damper would have solved the whole thing) Again if I remember correctly there was also an added chain tensioner that rode on the chain to keep it from flopping. (also due to the uneven firing pulses) The 4 cylinder chain and sprocket set was the “hot” setup for go fast V8 Pontiacs for a long time.
    Again this is all from memory from my Pontiac dealership days of old.

    Like 4

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