Top Of The Line: 1951 Pontiac Catalina

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Buick is generally credited with offering the first mass manufactured hardtop car with its 1949 Riviera. Joining this increasingly popular trend, fellow GM brands were quick to offer their own hardtop models, and not only as halo cars.

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Pontiac’s Catalina Super Deluxe hardtop was that nameplate’s top of the line closed car for 1950, with this body style being offered in Deluxe form as well. With their convertible look, hardtops appealed to America’s post war imagination and were hugely popular.

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In fact, in 1950, Pontiac’s top of the line car, offered in only two special colors, San Pedro ivory and Sierra rust, two-tone or monotone, and full two-tone leather interior, were purchased by 64,424 buyers.

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Thanks to reader Dan H, we found out about one of these Pontiacs for sale here on eBay in Taneytown, Maryland. It’s purported to be a two owner car. The seller says it was taken apart by a 17 year old kid some 30 years ago, and then sat in a Pennsylvania barn.

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According to the auction description, the car is 96% complete, and the rust in rockers and quarters evident in photos is acknowledged. It would be useful to know whether the floors and trunk are rusted out also, but that is not mentioned by the seller, and the pictures do not answer that question.

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The straight eight engine is said to turn over and have good compression, but we can see that the radiator is missing, and have to assume that this car will require a full restoration at this point, which will be a considerable undertaking. Mechanical parts are readily available, but interior and trim pieces that are model-specific will be more difficult to source. This car needs a ton of work!

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As a top of the line car this is definitely a desirable Pontiac and it seems likely that someone will be willing to restore it. I found a recently offered car in more or less perfect condition that sold for just under $40,000. If it were me, I’d rather have that one than take on the uncertainty and cost of this project car, but I am sure many of our more adventurous readers would prefer the challenge of the restoration effort for this car.

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Interior needs work, eh? The seat cushion is a nice touch, don’t you think?

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I do hate seeing this car stored outside. Just look at all that rust starting to work its way to the surface.

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Artley Pontiac in Williamsport, Pennsylvania is the dealer that sold this car in 1950. It’s definitely neat to see the old dealer tag still in place.

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As of this writing auction bidding has reached only $1,534 and the reserve has not been met. Given the cost of restoration versus its restored value, this car is likely not as valuable to buyers as its seller thinks it is, but what else is new? How much should it go for?

Image Courtesy of Park Place LTD

Here’s a photo of the restored example mentioned above. Great looking car. Hemmings has a nice history of the hardtop here, in case you’d like to know more about where this body style came from.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. PerMember

    I like these cars, they have a nice design. At the time, no talk about saving fuel. It was just the pleasure of driving.

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  2. Fred FR

    what a beauty !!

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  3. Gary K

    Very familiar looking car, as my older brother bought one identical back in the mid sixties for a $20 bill and drove it in a demolition derby, he lasted all of about 2 minutes as I recall, funny as all get out.. These are a cool car now, They are a real beauty when restored original and correct.

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  4. joeinthousandoaks

    As far gone as it is it would be better off as a tastefully done rest-mod.

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  5. Jason Houston

    BTW, this is a 1950, not a ’51.

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  6. Fred

    I’m not a fan of the styling of the early 50’s GM or Mopar offerings- with the sole exception of this hardtop style! Looks very nice restored.

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  7. Robert White

    This is a really nice car to rebuild IMO. Not too much welding, but enough welding to make it a fun little job well done. If I could just win the lottery.


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  8. Vince Habel

    I like these better than the Chevy. Restomod with a 389 or 421 4 speed and disc brakes.

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  9. RoughDiamond

    This will make a sweet ride.

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  10. Charles

    I would restore this to original specs.

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  11. C. W. Muse

    There is a junkyard not to far from this car. Very interesting stuff in there. 3199 Basehores Mill Rd, Taneytown, MD 21787

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  12. mike young

    Obviously low mileage. Still rotates. Why would anyone take out that great,smooth running straight-eight? (Im sure not a damn thing wrong with it) Not to mention that awesome trans. Those things shift nice and hard like a trans ought to. Excellent trans. First gear …nice and low. Drops into second in about twenty feet!

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