The 1960s were arguably the high-water mark for Pontiac styling and image, under the leadership of Bunkie Knudsen, Pete Estes, and John DeLorean. It was the beginning of the wide-track era, which actually began in 1959 with an all-new Pontiac. I found an abundance of 1960s Pontiacs at the Mecum Spring Classic muscle-car auction a couple weeks ago. Here are the best of them from my visit, like this ’60.
Front- and rear-end styling were toned down a bit from ’59. I like the ’59 front end but prefer the ’60 tail.
The Catalina name had been part of the Pontiac story since 1950, but at first only on hardtops in combination with Pontiac’s existing series names. Catalina became a series of its own, Pontiac’s entry-level car, in 1959.
The Bonneville name was new in 1960, supplanting the Star Chief at the top of the Pontiac hierarchy. This ’64 Bonne wagon was built the second year of Pontiac’s stacked-headlight look, which was aped across much of the industry over the next several years.
I pay a lot of attention to automotive styling; it’s what got me interested in cars as a very small boy. And even while very young, I could see that nobody could bend sheet metal into a pleasing line like Pontiac during the 1960s. Pontiac even designed cool tail lights, and even on their station wagons.
The other thing that is apparently hard to get right is dashboards, at least from where I sit. Maybe I’m just too harsh a critic, but I find so few dashboards to be aesthetically pleasing. Pontiac, however, did a pretty good job with dashboards during the 1960s. They tended to be wide and flat, like this one, but still attractive and in harmony with the exterior styling.
Pontiac also launched swelled-hips styling across much of the industry in 1965 with the Grand Prix. This one’s a ’66.
There’s just not a bad line anywhere on this car.
I’ve always thought that a white interior was a bold statement on the automaker’s part. It says a lot about the car’s owner, too, as long as it stays clean, at any rate. Dark interiors hide a multitude of cleanliness sins.
In 1967, Pontiac’s styling went from hippy to voluptuous. Even though the Pontiacs of the early-mid 1970s would be even larger, no subsequent Pontiac exceeds the ‘67’s sense of sheer mass.
Pontiac’s upside-down-hockey-stick era of tail lights began in 1967. A frowning rear end doesn’t sound like a good idea, but Pontiac made it work. And weren’t Pontiac’s individually lettered name badges cool?
Here’s the ultimate ’67 Pontiac, the Grand Prix. In convertible form, it doesn’t look much different from the Bonneville.
Except for the front and rear clips, of course. But even the dashboards and seats were the same in these cars.
But this GP is stuffed full of Pontiac’s biggest available engine in 1967, the 428. It generated at least 375 horsepower that year.