The Pontiac Catalina began as the top trim level of the 1950 Pontiac Chieftain. The name came from the tradition of naming cars for beach towns like Bel Air, Malibu, Ventura, and the like. Later applied to the Pontiac Star Chief (Pontiac’s Bel Air), the pillarless hardtop had an open, airy feeling and all the best appointments.
For the 1959 model year, Pontiac ditched the Chieftain and Super Chief model names, instead choosing to go with Pontiac Catalina. Built on GM’s new B-body platform, the Catalina was styled with thin A-pillars, a wraparound windshield, and improved visibility. A new split grille with elongated halves housed horizontally arranged dual headlights. The Catalina was the most affordably priced full-size Pontiac, but had an extensive list of available options.
Inside, the Pontiac Catalina featured standard Morrokide vinyl with cloth inserts, or full Morrokide upholstery, dual ashtrays, cigar lighter, a glovebox snackbar with cup indentations on the glovebox door. Standard floor coverings were of rubber mat, though full carpeting could be had. The options list included a decor group with chrome trim on the pedals, a deluxe steering wheel, full wheel covers, and a heater/defroster.
For the 1961 model year, the Pontiac Catalina received fresh new looks courtesy of a complete restyling. Lines were sharper and windshields flatter. A perimeter-style chassis called the Torque Box gave the Catalina better interior room and better side impact protection while allowing the body to be marginally smaller and lighter. The overall length and wheelbase were both shortened by three inches. The Catalina had a five-inch wider chassis compared to its General Motors corporate cousins. This pushed the wheels farther apart resulting in improved handling and appearance, giving rise to Pontiac’s “Wide Track” marketing platform.
The Pontiac Catalina could be had with a number of powertrain options. Standard issue was the venerable 389 cubic-inch mill fed by a two-barrel carb, producing 215 horsepower, and backed by a three-speed manual or Hydramatic automatic transmission. Mixing optional carb and compression ratios could get you horsepower outputs of 267, 303, 318, 333, or 348 ponies. A 363-horsepower variant was available strictly for competition use, and toward the end of the year, a dealer-installed 421 cubic-inch Super Duty engine could be had.
Our feature 1962 Pontiac Catalina is number 103 of the 155 421-powered Catalinas. Showing just 21,000 miles on the clock, it has lived its entire life in the western United States, and wears all of its original sheet metal. It was built with the factory aluminum package, with the hood, front and rear bumpers, brackets, and fenders all done in aluminum. The Catalina has had a single repaint in the correct Mandalay Red hue, which had been ceramic coated. The Catalina rolls on the iconic eight-lug wheels wrapped in blackwall bias-ply rubber.
The Pontiac Catalina’s bench seat is covered in red Morrokide vinyl with cloth inserts. Equipment includes the Decor Group, factory Sun tachometer, Hurst shifter, radio delete covered with a spiffy “Shifted by Hurst” emblem, heater/defroster, windshield washers, and back-up lamps.
Beneath the Pontiac Catalina’s hood is the numbers-matching 421 cubic-inch Super Duty engine, fed by the original dual Carter 500CFM carburetors sitting atop an aluminum intake. The 421 is stuffed with forged aluminum pistons, and forged steel rods and crank. The original T-10 wide ratio four-speed manual moves power to the wheels through a 4.30 Saf-T-Track rear end.
The sale of this 1962 Pontiac Catalina Super Duty includes Pontiac Historic Society documents, copies of the build sheet, window sticker, and engine order form, a Pontiac High Performance and Super Duty spec and parts manual, a dealer brochure, feature article in the August 2005 Hemmings Muscle Machines, and previous registrations.