Cohort Pic(k) of the Day: 1963 Pontiac Bonneville – Now That’s a Dashboard To Venerate

The 1963 Pontiac rocked the world (well, North America mainly) with its new stacked headlight front end and other madly cool new stylistic touches, like the gently bulging hips. But when I ran across these shots of a Bonneville coupe posted by robadr, it was this one of its interior that really sucked me in, into its Morrokide-upholstered interior. Click on this image to get a better sense of that majestic dashboard, with genuine walnut veneer inserts.

When I was a kid at the time, it was sitting inside of these GM cars of this vintage that really sealed the deal and made me an acolyte of the church of St. Mark of Excellence. And I had a lot of seat time to ponder this altar, as the neighbors across the street got a new ’63 Bonneville four door hardtop that year. Iowa City was a very informal town, and yes, I used to just walk over there and go sit in it while their high school sons were working on their hot rods. It was the dad’s car, and I remember once when he came out and gave me a rather quizzical look when he started to get in and saw me there in veneration to the high priest Bill Mitchell. I think he felt bad about disturbing me.

This is what rocked the world in 1963, along with the Sting ray and the Riviera. But in the case of the Pontiac, it was across the whole line, from the cheapest Catalina 2-door sedan to the sexy big Grand Prix. These ’63s cemented Pontiacs rise to the solid #3 sales position, and made them the hottest big cars in the land. It took the Mustang to get folks’ eyeballs to finally turn away.  And of course both Ford and Plymouth sported stacked headlights in 1965, as well as other ways to pay homage to the most influential big car in a long time.

The rear end of the ’63s was still a bit of a work in progress, an evolutionary step from the ’62s. Nice, but not nearly as brilliant or influential as the other end.

The hood on this one is a bit less than fully closed on the big Trophy V8 underneath it. 389 standard; higher output 389s and a couple of 421’s were optional. The 421s sported either a single big four barrel carb or the Tri-Power setup good for 370 hp. Or so. And the Bonnevilles’ automatic was the husky 4-speed Hydramatic, not the more fragile 3-speed Roto HM “Slim Jim”.

Coincidentally, it’s parked next to a BMW 3 Series from its golden era. I’ve often referred to Pontiac as the American BMW, in terms of its image as the cool trend-setter in the early-mid 60s, not the Wal Mart BMW of the late 80s and 90s.


Related reading:
Curbside Classic: 1963 Pontiac Catalina – The Sexiest Big Sedan Of Its Time