Junkyard Outtake: 1961 Pontiac Tempest–The Rare Wood-Powered Prototype


Early Tempests were flawed compacts from a period when General Motors seemed willing to try anything, but I still love them.  I think they’re the best looking of the Special/F-85/Tempest triumvirate, and they’re certainly the weirdest: rope drive, slant four, rear transaxle.  I caught this long defunct ’61 at a junkyard in Central Michigan last fall, and at the very least, it reminded me how much I like ’61 Tempest wagons.


This poor Tempest has likely gone to that great Pontiac dealer in the sky, and was certainly past the point of a practical restoration anyway.  With only 22,000 or so produced in ’61, that’s sad, but if this picture at all makes you want a Tempest, even a little, then my job here is done.