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Super Duty Tribute: 1963 Pontiac Catalina

Pontiac spent the late 1950s and early 1960s positioning itself as the performance marque within the General Motors empire. People like John DeLorean were happy to push the envelope of what GM management would allow within the bounds of its “no racing” corporate policy. A line was finally drawn in the sand with the 1963 Catalina Super Duty 421. There was simply no denying that it was a thinly-disguised racer for the road, and upper management demanded production end immediately. Records show that only around fourteen of these classics rolled off the line, and they are, today, one of America’s genuine motoring unicorns. This 1963 Catalina is a Super Duty tribute with a racing past. However, it has been made more mechanically civilized so that it could return to racing or command respect as it prowls the streets. It requires a new home, with the seller listing the Pontiac here on eBay in Fenton, Missouri. The seller set their BIN at $21,500 with the option to make an offer.

This Catalina is a mystery machine, because the Cowl Tag and the owner’s PHS documentation confirm that it should have rolled off the line finished in Nocturne Blue. However, the seller is adamant there is no evidence of a color change, suggesting there was an error at the factory. I take such claims at face value, strongly recommending an in-person inspection to expose whether this is accurate. The paint is now faded, leaving the buyer to choose between cosmetic restoration and preservation. The seller states that it saw racing action with its previous owner, making retaining the current appearance an attractive proposition. The best news is that it is structurally sound. There have been repairs to the lower rear quarter panels and rear body mounts, but the indications are that the work was performed to a high standard. The trim is in good order, and there are no visible glass issues.

The heart of the original Super Duty was its fire-breathing 421ci V8. It produced what Pontiac claimed was 410hp and 425 ft/lbs of torque. Wiser heads believe both figures are significantly understated, especially considering the Catalina could storm the ¼-mile in around 12 seconds. It is unsurprising that this tribute doesn’t feature that motor, although it should still produce impressive performance figures. Its 455ci V8 is of 1972 vintage, benefitting from an upgraded camshaft, big valve cylinder heads, long tube headers, and a Holley 750cfm carburetor. Its power output is unclear, but it sends the ponies to the road via a three-speed Turbo 400 automatic transmission and a 3.42 Posi rear end. Potential buyers should consider the Pontiac a turnkey proposition that runs and drives perfectly. The seller includes this YouTube video. It provides a comprehensive walkaround, allowing us to hear the 455 running. It sounds as sweet as a nut, with no smoke or odd noises.

The original owner ordered this Catalina as a “bare bones” vehicle, with the interior featuring front seat foam and two-speed wipers. The previous owner added bucket seats and door trims from a Grand Prix for extra comfort. The seller states that they recently had new custom seatcovers and carpet installed, leaving the interior to present nicely. There are no signs of wear or other issues, with the dash and pad looking excellent. The aftermarket additions are all practical, including a Sun tachometer, a selection of underdash gauges, and a B&M shifter.

I typically prefer my classics original and unmolested, but I have total respect for former racing machinery that retain an “as-raced” appearance. That is the story of this 1963 Pontiac Catalina. However, it appears to be a relatively civilized former racer that would feel at home on the street. That is an important consideration, because highly-strung cars often don’t provide an enjoyable driving experience away from their natural habitat. It deserves a new home with someone who appreciates all that it offers. Are you tempted to be that person?

Comments

  1. Avatar photo Paul Manuel

    Man I wish this car had been available 3 months ago before I bought my 67 Coronet R/T convertible. I would have been all over this beauty. Love it!!!

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Stan

      You got a big block in that RT Paul w the Torq-flite autoloader? Great setup 👌 Love this Pontiac, but was really hoping for a 4sp stik. 🏁

      Like 9
      • Avatar photo Paul Manuel

        Stan, yes. My car is a 440ci / 4 spd manual (a833)

        Like 4
      • Avatar photo Joe

        Reply to Paul, Myself, I would want the 67’ R/T 4 speed Convertible over that Pontiac any day…..your car is super rare for one thing….and tuned right, it would blow the doors off that Pontiac fake SD…..just my humble opinion…..

        Like 4
    • Avatar photo Fox owner

      Nice Pontiac, but sounds sweet as a nut? Err, maybe. I would prefer the 2+2. More my style. Or a Grand Prix.

      Like 2
      • Avatar photo Warren Irwin

        I know of a 63GP for sale in NE Oklahoma

        Like 1
      • Avatar photo Big Ron

        Wow amazing Super Duty! Would love to rip this thing on the streets. I love the old Pontiacs from the 60’s. But I just can’t understand why this site is called “Barn Finds”? It’s not like any of these cars were pulled out of a dusty old barn after being stored for many years. Isn’t that what a true Barn Find really is?

        Like 0
    • Avatar photo Jon Burgess

      You have a much better car and one that has a giant following. No regrets if I was you!

      Like 2
  2. Avatar photo HoA Member

    Whoa, mama, got to hand it to the author, ( who refuses to accept I exist), sure has some neat topics. One thing missed, and I by no means want to upstage any author, but these originally were called “Swiss Cheese” Super Dutys. They got the name because the frame had holes drilled to lighten the car. There were FOURTEEN made. I think the Swiss Cheese Ponchos could do 12s, not this car, but still one heck of a ride. That hood scoop should look familiar to anyone that drove an old 60s Ford road tractor, they used that scoop. Drag racing was a bit out of Pontiacs league, and while the GTO changed everything there, make no mistake, full size Ponchos gave Ford and Dodge plenty of trouble on the oval. Probably Pontiacs last gasp at racing until the 80s. I read Pontiac amassed a remarkable 154 wins, 1957-2003. Some mighty big names drove Ponchos, I’m sure that was the creators intent, not drag racing.
    A half-baked salute to one of the greatest American cars ever.

    Like 11
    • Avatar photo Greenhorn

      My favorite NASCAR driver, Ricky Craven was the last to win a Cup series event in a Pontiac.

      P.S. I didn’t remember the details, I looked it up, but it was March 16th, 2003, at Darlington.

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo 59poncho

        Was that when he was smashing door to door at the line? Great finish. Loved Craven.

        Like 0
    • Avatar photo Larry Black

      Jake Howard bought a new one from Allan Pontiac in Covington ind it was blue with a cheesecake frame the Ford air scoop was issued a Pontiac part number it had a alum front end factory i think the factory under rated the motor 405 hp 421 supper duty to get around some rules.

      Like 2
  3. Avatar photo Morley Brown Member

    love this body style but it does need a foour speed. And a FORD dump truck scoop perfect indeed

    Like 4
  4. Avatar photo william stephan

    SWISS CHEESE on toast? IIRC the SD 421 also had aluminum front fenders and maybe a paainted aluminum front bumper too? None of this was mentioned here. Wasnt the OEM 421 a tri-power intake as well?

    Like 4
  5. Avatar photo Tony

    I would buy this car in a heartbeat!
    I’m $10k short on the cash :(

    Like 1
  6. Avatar photo Threepedal

    If I wanted a replica of a racing car I’d settle for 1/24 scale. If the actual car as it left the factory was up for sale it would be a real desirable unit.

    Like 1
  7. Avatar photo Richard C

    Had a New 63 Catalina, 2dr hdtp. I’m just 21(,60 yrs ago). Dad said you need more responsibility, your buying a new car and getting a checkbook to go with your payment book. Dad was good friends with owner of the dealership. Ordered as above with 389, 4 barrel, dual exhaust, 4 speed, a maroon/burgundy color, small hubcaps n so on. Well the car came in and just beautiful except for under the hood. There was a gleaming 389, 2 barrel carb, Low Compression Engine. Dealer told Dad he’s gonna be racing with this car, so they changed the engine. Just to say, Low Compression engines had an E with a circle around it on the right front of the block.

    Like 2
  8. Avatar photo william stephan

    Still fun for 20K to go beat the snot outa it until the cam gear shatters…

    Like 1
  9. Avatar photo 59poncho

    I would love to have a go at this with my 427 Biscayne, yeehaw!

    Like 1

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