Tri-Power Included: $4,500 1963 Pontiac Bonneville

From 1959 until 1970, a Pontiac Dealership in Akron, Ohio, known as Knafel Pontiac, built and sponsored a series of drag race-ready Pontiacs known as the “Tin Indians”. The motivating force behind their efforts was brought about by various high-powered, full-size models like this 1963 Bonneville, located in Fowler, Colorado and available here on eBay for a BIN price of $4,000. The seller is open to offers too. Thanks to local_sheriff for the tip!

Big Pontiacs like the Catalina, Grand Prix, and Bonneville ruled the roost, performance-wise, in the early sixties. A one-time staid GM division, Pontiac sprung forward in the late ‘50s with its “Wide-Track” promotional development, first, under the progressive hand of General Manager, Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen and then later that of GTO Godfather, John DeLorean. It was a metamorphosis that transferred Pontiac from chrome suspender wearing, dodgy sedans into the realm of the GTO, Catalina SD, Bonneville, and Grand Prix.

The primary catalyst for the transformation was the 389 CI engine. It was offered in tame proportions but it was the hot-ones with a triple carburetor set-up that got everyone’s juices flowing. And that’s where we are going to take a slight detour with this Bonneville. This Pontiac is equipped with a later vintage 455 CI engine and a Turbo-Hydramatic 400 automatic transmission. Those items are not included in the sale. What is included is a non-original 389 CI engine with the triple carburetors and intake manifold. The seller claims that “Engine ran good and transmission shifted good before being removed from donor car.” He further states that the car is 100% complete but there are no images of the actual included 389 CI engine and all of the necessary attendant parts, just the triple carburetors. Also included with the 389 engine is a circa 1963 Hydramatic automatic transmission.

The seller states that the interior “will need redone as to be expected”, probably an understatement. The one image available is not very good so it’s hard to get a complete picture. Selling an old car like this is work entailing the construction of a convincing promotion. Why one would photograph the interior of their sale car with wheel covers and other detritus on the front seat leads me to believe that they are trying to hide something – really not helpful to their cause.

Turning things around, the seller is forthcoming regarding the car’s structural integrity and adds pictures to prove it, good move! The seller allows, “This car has very minimal rust and is in very good shape body wise. Floor pans are solid. The trunk floor has some rust holes due to the back window being broken before I acquired the car but nothing serious.” The floor pan condition bears out his assertion so it seems to be a solid starting point.

The body on this big bruiser, and there’s a lot of it, looks pretty straight. There is some rust, creases, small dents, etc. in places but the seller is adamant that this is a very solid and 100 percent, complete car.

Granted, this is not a Catalina SD or a GTO (which it predates by one year) but it is still a significant component of Pontiac’s chain of “We build excitement” cars that came about in the swinging ’60s. The issue is that any way you cut it, this Bonneville is going to need a lot of work, starting off with the reverse engine transplant, followed by a lot of other stuff. Will this Bonneville ultimately be worth all of the needed investment to make it right again? I’m not too certain, what do you think?


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  1. Alex

    Crack pipe.

    Like 2
  2. Jules Member

    The very first car I remember as a toddler was my mother’s robin’s-egg-blue Pontiac Bonneville convertible. It went to Atlanta with my older brother when he went off to college and rusted away.

    Like 3
  3. Gary D. Oliver

    John Wagner is known as the GTO Godfather. John DeLorean was the man behind the GTO.

    Like 1
    • Rick Rothermel

      It’s JIM WANGERS, Gary. Jim was an ad exec at McManus, John & Adams, Pontiacs ad house. He was also a street racer on Woodward Av. and a strong proponent of the brands performance image. Still with us?at age 93!

      Like 3
  4. Troy s

    I’m confused, so it’s got a 455/T400 in it now but that gets yanked and comes with a 389, or is the 389 back in it? I’d rather have the 455.
    Wasn’t there some 389 referred to as the “trophy A”, a real goer,,, these big cars pounded in stock and super stock drag racing back then, awful expensive too.

  5. TimM

    I think this is the buy of the week on barn find!! Straight body needs some interior work the pictures don’t show it as being a rust bucket!! Do the typical mechanicals clean up the interior and drive the tires off it!!! What’s the problem????

    Like 7
  6. Comet

    That’s seems like a lot of Pontiac for the asking. Colorado has it’s share of rust free cars. I like it.

    Like 6
  7. RJ

    This looks to me like a steal at that price. I see no problem with hubcaps on the seat – what more could they hide. No difference between a rough interior and one that is completely trashed – either way it needs to be replaced. No rust is the biggie – it’s not called cancer w/o reason.

    Like 7
  8. Tort Member

    Nice car that at this price will have a new owner soon!

    Like 3
  9. Clay Bryant

    Had a black one like this years ago. The trunk was big enough to hold a convention in. Nice driver but too long to fit my needs. Catalina was better proportioned……..

    Like 2
  10. Del

    Just like my nebors.

    Too much swapping going on.

    Should have done whatever swaps before offering for sale

    Like 1

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