Rust-Free Driver: 1971 Pontiac Catalina Convertible

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The idea of hitting the road on a sunny day in a classic convertible can be irresistible. The problem can be choosing the ideal candidate for the job. Sometimes space requirements remain a significant consideration. If you prefer something with room to spread out, this 1970 Pontiac Catalina could be ideal. It presents exceptionally well, with no apparent needs beyond a new home. The seller listed it here on eBay in New Bern, North Carolina. Bidding has raced beyond the reserve to sit at $9,550, with time remaining on the auction.

The 1971 model year brought a totally redesigned Catalina in what was the badge’s Fourth Generation as a standalone model. The styling was crisp and modern, but it didn’t initially sell in the quantity the company envisaged. Only 129,983 buyers across all derivatives chose a new Catalina in 1971, marking the worst result since the 1961 figure of 113,354. Some classics can be automotive chameleons, blending into the background and remaining unnoticed. There is no danger with this Catalina, with its Cardinal Red paint and White power top making a bold statement. This paint shines nicely, with neither it nor the panels it cloaks showing evidence of significant flaws. The same is true of the top, which fits tightly and has no rips. The seller claims the vehicle is rust-free, and the photos seem to support that. Nothing is visible externally, while the floors and frame are said to be rock-solid. The chrome and glass are excellent, with the immaculate sports wheels and narrow whitewalls rounding out the exterior.

The theme of tidy presentation continues when we examine this Catalina’s interior. Its White vinyl upholstered surfaces have avoided the yellowing that can plague trim of this type, while there are no signs of dirty marks, stains, or physical damage. The carpet and dash are spotless, and the faux woodgrain hasn’t faded, worn, or lifted. I’ve been trying to find something to criticize, but the more I examine the supplied photos, the more I believe the interior could be one of this classic’s strongest attributes. It doesn’t look loaded with optional extras, although I think it features in-car entertainment for an AM/FM radio/8-track player.

The entry-level engine for the 1971 Catalina was the 350ci V8, but this car’s original owner plumped for the mid-range 400. Shifting duties fall to a three-speed THM-400 automatic transmission, with the original owner specifying power steering and power brakes. It is unclear which version of the 400 hides under this Convertible’s hood, meaning the driver has between 265 and 300hp at their disposal. With the Catalina weighing 4,281 lbs, performance is not in muscle car territory. However, cruising at freeway speeds or idling along some sunny boulevard should be equally effortless for this beauty. The seller says it is in excellent mechanical health, running and driving extremely well. If the winning bidder wanted to fly in and drive home, that could be a realistic plan with this classic.

There’s a lot to like about this 1971 Catalina Convertible, and not much of which to be critical. An in-person inspection will undoubtedly expose paint or panel imperfections not visible in the supplied photos. However, it is rock-solid, which is often half the battle when finding a good classic of this vintage. It has attracted forty-two bids, suggesting people like what they see. It remains affordable at the current level, but how high do you think the bidding will climb before the auction ends?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Big_FunMember

    This could be a good buy for someone.
    I can also see a classic car dealer buying it, and then a $24,995 price added. They only made the Catalina convertible (4th generation, as Adam’s write up stated), for ’71 and ’72. Only about 2100 made in ‘7. After that, Grand Ville only. This is also shorter than the GV. The difference is in the length of the front fenders.
    The upper door panels are custom, as the obligatory GM woodgrain motif is missing…
    The Buick sourced chrome wheels look good! Center cap is PMD.
    That is the 400 2bbl. Did a LOT of reasearch on these – one Saturday the in-laws call – out ‘garage sale-ing’, and find a Catalina convertible at a house. I wasn’t needing it. But a plan was set in motion…
    More rare and way less money than a ’75 Caprice convertible, but just as much (or more) fun!

    Like 9
  2. Bakyrdhero BakyrdheroMember

    Nice old boat with a face only a mother could love..

    Like 5
  3. Jim in FL

    I’m going on a limb and calling this a good buy. 400 is bulletproof, looks reasonably well kept. Not a high option car, but a nice driver.

    The top shows the same fitment issues my 75 grandville had. These are big roofs. Lots of real estate to go up and down.

    If I was in the market right now, this would be on my radar. Put a vintage air system in and cruise.

    Like 4
  4. Maggy

    Looking for one of these but not red.The Buick mags look ok on it but I’d go back to Pontiac ralleyes if it was mine. Theres a maroon metallic 73 Grandville close to me for 25k at a classic car dealer and it was advertised for 12k one on ebay about 6 weeks earlier in NC.Same car.They gotta eat too.Nice car.glwts.

    Like 5
  5. George Mattar

    Yes, plenty of fun for cheap. But make sure and check that infamous GM scissors operated top frame. They tend to bend and fixing it is an exercise in frustration. These are rare and in the best big vert combo, red and white. No emissions BS under the hood and yes, 400s are reliable. Had one in 1975.

    Like 2
    • Rich

      Yes, Scissor Top, is a Headache !!!! We own a 1971 Catalina, and the Top never worked, I just leave it down and only take it out on nice days !! It’s worth it we live in Florida 🤪🤪🤪
      Very Fun Car!!
      A beautiful example of Classic American Engineering 👍👍

      Like 0
  6. BMan

    Those bring back good childhood memories… not a lot of options..jus a 71′ Cat Vert… Last of the Big Sharp front ends from PMD..Nice…

    Like 0
  7. Russell Morgan

    What? No top down photos nice floating boat I’m sure with a full frame as heavy a truck my friend has a Granville with the 455 Q-Jet man that thing flew for a big rig

    Like 0

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