Potential GTO Clone? 1965 Pontiac Tempest

Disclosure: This site may receive compensation from some link clicks and purchases.

Pontiac launched the Tempest as its first compact in 1961. Along with the Buick and Oldsmobile division compacts, the Tempest moved up to mid-size status in 1964, the year the now-famous GTO muscle car would also be launched. Changes were few in 1965 for the Tempest/LeMans/GTO except for the switch to stacked rather than horizontal headlights. This ’65 Tempest Custom convertible looks to have been forgotten about some time ago, but the seller has positioned it as a clone prospect in his/her sales pitch. Located in Lebec, California, this running project is available here on craigslist for $9,500 (or something close).

The decision to promote the Tempest to intermediate status in 1964 meant Pontiac would be out of the compact market for seven years. It was not until 1971 that the Ventura II was born, a rebadged version of the popular Chevy Nova. The Tempest Custom convertible was body style 23567 in 1965 and Pontiac produced 8,346 of them, which means maybe just a few hundred survive today. The 230 cubic inch OHC inline-6 was standard and the first V8 in the books was the 326. The seller’s car has the latter engine, but it’s from 1967 so not numbers-matching.

From the seller’s description and photos, Pontiacs are his/her thing, and has several projects from 1964 to 1967 going on that also seem to be for sale. We don’t know the background of this auto, but it looks to have been outside for an extended period. The convertible top is mostly toast, so it’s allowed the interior to get pretty dirty. A thorough detailing might reveal a nice passenger compartment, or it could lead to more problems that will need solving.

The seller indicates having all the parts needed to do a GTO conversion, including a hood, grill, GTO grab-bar, and more. But doesn’t mention if a GTO engine is in the mix. The red paint is faded out and there is a hint of blue on parts in the engine bay, so was this a blue “Poncho” at one time that became red?  We’re told the current 326 runs well and we assume the automatic transmission is okay. Why not stick with what’s there and restore it as a Tempest since there are already a lot of tribute cars or clones out there? What would you do?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Bud Lee

    GTO’s are cool but I wouldn’t kick a Tempest out of the garage. Especially one that will pull her top down.

    Like 19
  2. Rw

    Why instantly go for GTO clone???

    Like 17
  3. Mimo

    The world doesn’t need another clone. 5 years down the road it suddenly becomes original.

    Like 12
  4. Connecticut mark

    Keep it factory clone the Nova Pontiac behind it.

    Like 3
  5. mike

    Just make a great sunny day driver Tempest from her.

    Like 6
    • $ where mouth is

      Beautiful .. first i can say:

      seems we all agree =)

      Like 0
  6. HoA Howard AMember

    Never saw a ’65 with a grill like that, and I read is a “Custom only” feature and extremely rare. almost looks Canadian. There’s enough GTOs in the world, I’d leave it alone.

    Like 9
    • James R. Patterson Sr.

      This car has the correct 1965 Tempest grille. The Tempest and Tempest Custom used it. The Lemans and GTO used another grille. The story states the 1965 had a 230 cubic inch 6 which is wrong for 1964 and 1965 the 6 cylinder available was 215 cubic inch. 1966 introduced the overhead cam 230 cubic inch.

      Like 4
  7. Carter

    We had a ’65 Tempest custom Convertible. I’d love to have this one and restore it to the original blue.

    Like 4
  8. Jack

    My father had a 66 Tempest, which was more of a pest than anything else.

    The engine had a leaking valve and parts kept falling of the ‘Body by Fischer’

    My oldest brother had a panic attack as he was about to drive to the airport to pick up mom and dad and one of the side windows decided to fall into the door. Also recall that water leaked in when it rained

    Piece of junk – glad that my older sister pretty much wrecked it

    Like 0
    • bone

      How old was it when he owned it ? I had a 67 Falcon that was the biggest piece of junk I’ve ever owned – but was also a worn out 11 year old car from New England when I got it

      Like 0
  9. 19sixty5Member

    I have a 65 GTO convert, I’d love to have this Tempest to share space with it. It would remain a Tempest. I’d actually like it better if it were the 215 six cylinder, with a 3 speed on the column!

    Like 1

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.

Barn Finds