1966 Pontiac Catalina 2+2 bought at auction
Pontiac was busy building excitement in 1966 and Leo Cummings wanted to be a part of it. He had his eye on a Catalina convertible, but such a dazzling car did not mesh well with the young man’s family situation of a wife and two children. Consequently, plans for the Pontiac were placed on hold, indefinitely.
Besides the shark gill slits on the rear fenders, the feature that had attracted Cummings to the stylish Pontiac was the advertised performance. The V-8 engine delivered well over 300 horsepower. And all of that muscle was needed in order to propel the almost 2 tons of Pontiac in an appropriately sporting manner.
With practicality rearing its ugly head, the purchase of a Pontiac 2+2 convertible was not an option. Cummings settled for a family friendly Ventura model, but he kept the 2+2 alive in his memory.
“I’m going to have one of those,” he vowed.
About 40 years had passed when Cummings was attending an antique car auction in Atlantic City, N.J., and much to his surprise a 1966 Pontiac Catalina 2+2 convertible crossed the auctioneer’s block. The Pontiac was wearing a coat of Montero Red paint and had a well-fitted white top. Of course, he had to bid on the car.
Unfortunately, there was another bidder who decided the Pontiac was going to be his — regardless of price. Cummings lost out on the bidding, but the next day he saw the same car with a “For Sale” sign in the window. Apparently, the high bidder on the Pontiac had located another car that he couldn’t live without and was selling the Pontiac to pay for it. As it turns out, Cummings bought the Catalina for less than he would have during bidding.
Within a year of getting the 1966 Pontiac home, Cummings says he redid the entire car. The engine is the optional 421-cubic-inch V-8 capped with three two-barrel carburetors that deliver 356 horsepower. A zero-to-60 mph speed in 7 seconds is claimed. The very spacious 3,860-pound convertible stretches an inch shy of 18-feet-long between the bumpers and is listed at 79.7 inches wide.
Wheels on the Pontiac are special, each one fitted with eight lug nuts. The Catalina 2+2 is equipped with power steering, power brakes, power windows and a power antenna. The AM/FM radio has two speakers, one in the dashboard and the other at the top of the rear seat. The car is also fitted with an automatic transmission.
One optional accessory the Pontiac does not have is air conditioning, which was a commonly deleted option on convertible models some 40 years ago. After all, the top could be lowered and wing vent windows in the doors could be angled to direct cooling outside air to the occupants. Front seat passengers were not only coddled in bucket seats but had seat belts as well.
Cummings rebuilt the V-8 engine before the summer of 2009 when he drove his car to a Pontiac convention in Dayton, Ohio. On the trip Cummings says the 121-inch-long wheelbase provided an exceptionally comfortable ride all the way.
It’s difficult to believe that such a luxurious car could have been offered at a base price of $3,219 in 1966. Advertising literature of the day enticed the prospective buyer with prose such as: “Forget the hum drum run of the road transportation — buy a Pontiac.”
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