The Classic Pontiac

1961 Pontiac

1961 Pontiac
1961 Pontiac

Pontiac introduced the "Tempest" in 1961. The Tempest was the first four-cylinder car introduced after World War II. It featured a flexible, cable-like driveshaft and moved the transmission to the rear and connected it to the differential. This "transaxle" moved some of the weight off the front wheels and to the rear. It provided superior handling when compared with conventional setups, with the exception of sudden oversteer on wet pavements.

The Tempest featured the split grille, sculpted side panels and was available in a four-door sedan and station wagon. Later in the year a couple of two-door hardtops (Sport Coupes) were introduced. The premier model Sport Coupe was branded the LeMans.

The 194.5 CID four-cylinder engine produced 110 horsepower at 3800 rpm in the low-end configuration and topped out at 155 horsepower when the compression was upped to 10.25:1 (low-end version compression was 8.6:1) and equipped with a four-barrel carburetor.

Full-sized Pontiacs were smaller than their 1960 versions. A new perimeter-frame design allowed for smaller lighter-weight cars.

1961 Pontiacs featured a crisper look. Re-introducing the split grille, but this time with a "V" as the grille divider. Squared-off bodies featured small tail fins, sculpted side panels and taller rooflines. Available models were Catalina, Ventura, Star Chief, Bonneville and Bonneville Custom.

Engines available on the full-size Pontiacs were 389 cubic inch displacement V8s with horsepower ratings from 215 at the lower end to 348 on the Tempest Tri-Power engine. A 405 horsepower 421 cubic inch "Super-Duty" was available only in the Catalina two-door, but it was limited to "off-road" use only.