posted by Ralf K (Don Kincl)
I have said it before but I will gladly say it again, the 1965-66 GM B bodies might be my all-time favorite body style. I’m sure that part of this is because they came out when my little teenage brain started to realize that I would be allowed to drive a car in the not so distant future. Part of the reason might be that GM was still doing things (mostly) right in that era so the cars not only looked good, they were good. For whatever reason(s) these really appeal to me. I actually owned a 1965 Catalina for a couple of years in the early 70’s, and I never really thought of it as a big car; to me it was just a car. When I see one now (more rarely as time goes by), I’m struck by how big these really are. In any case a mid-sixties GM B body is #1A on my Powerball list.
These are really an impressive design. The detailing — not just in the use of trim and chrome, but in the complex shapes of the fenders — is really exceptional; they look good in pictures, but photos don’t entirely do them justice. Also, all the ’65-’66 B-bodies look good and the fact that they have some commonality of body shell is pretty much invisible. A Wildcat and a Catalina, say, really don’t look alike.
Mom had a 1966 Bonneville convertible, white with a black top and interior. Stunning automobile. At the time my sister got her license she was “forced” to drive it. Hated it. Called it a boat. We wish we had that car today!
I learned to drive, took the DL test, and spent much of my early driving career in my parents’ 1964 Catalina 4-door hardtop. I think it had the 389 V8 with Roto-Hydramatic transmission. (It had the “S”uper position on the column-shift quadrant.)
I have not seen the like in many years. At first it was just an everyday grocery getter. As the years went by and gave way to the 1970s gas crises it became an unwanted barge and found its way to the boneyard.
Today I’d practically give my right arm to have it back.
That’s a killer photograph.
Yep, that’s some good photography. Looks like he “sharpened” the photo a bit in post production, a effect that works very well for this particular subject.
And speaking of the subject matter: I love these old ’65 and ’66 Pontiacs. I had a ’66 Catalina 4-door for a while in the late 80s, and I’m really missing it right now. It was a fun car to drive; even though it was a gigantic car by modern standard, it didn’t really FEEL all that big. Ah… memories.
Same color as Grandfathers ’65 Bonneville convertible. Had white top and white leather interior. Beautiful car, nice picture.
Stunning car. Looks like poetry in motion. With all that style and grace, one would never roll their eyes at the Catalina’s of the day. Even as base models, they were so beautifully appointed. Classy, not gaudy. IMOH the Pontiac’s were the nicest of all the GM B body’s of that era. Such style…. I wish I had one !!
A childhood friend’s parents had a 66 Bonnie convertible, dark blue, white top, white leather. Absolutely stunning. Definitely in my top 10. They also had the first 65 Mustang I ever saw in metal.
I like this Pontiac for the simple reason that my young beautiful 7th grade science teacher had a 65-66 Catalina convertible in this same white color.
Her behind the wheel of that Pontiac coupled with her striking resemblance to Peggy Lipton from the Mod Squad and well….my 12 year old adolescent heart ached with love.
My 3rd grade teacher had a bright red ’63 (current model year then, ie new) Catalina. A hardtop, but I had a crush on her and her car was pretty nice too. I got to ride in it at least once, just the two of us …
I wasn’t quite so much a fan of these later, more sculptured styles, but after 50 years it looks pretty stunning. And a very nice photo too!
I’ve said it before, I’m not a fan of the question “what is your favorite…..whatever.” I don’t like the limitations of word favorite. But, under duress, I might tell you that the ’65-’66 Pontiac full-size is my favorite car as far as appearance.
Looking at this, I wonder for the first time if my appreciation of the 1962 Cadillac isn’t somewhat related. That lower body character line is a less radical version of the Caddy’s skeg fin…….
Those must’ve been one of Pontiac’s most successful designs, as it seemed like everyone I knew at the time__meaning my friend’s parents__had one. Catalinas, Bonnevilles and Grand Prix, even 2+2 models.
Even the Monsignor at our church had a 2-door post Catalina, and the nuns had a 4-door pillarless hdtp (both were black, of course).
Off the top of my head, I could name at least a half-dozen others I knew about.
Randy, I must be about a decade younger than you…Monsignor Tensing had a 72? Caprice, black with red interior, and fender skirts. Nice, but not too flashy. The penguins had several crappy black sedans, don’t recall what they were. We got a new priest around 1974 or so, and he drove a light green Cutlass Supreme with white top and white vinyl buckets. I suspect some older parishioners weren’t sure what to make of him, much less his wheels.
My best friend had a ”65 Parisienne Custom Sport, one of those Canadian bastardized versions of these. 327 4bbl, ran like a cut cat.
Beautiful car, beautiful photo. THIS was what Pontiac was all about in the 60s!
These were beautiful cars, but it seems every sixties car I see now is a ragtop or a hard top of some kind. I grew up with these cars and the vast majority I saw were four door sedans or even two doors. There are so few real survivors of these cars that when I see one, it piques a lot of interest in me. We are being presented with too much beauty, and anything can be recreated now.
Holy crap! I just remembered that__I__had a ’67 Executive 4-door hdtp! Bright red with black vinyl and cloth interior. I bought it in 1975 for like $600.00 at maybe 60k miles.
It belonged to an elderly couple, and was the wife’s car, but they decided they no longer needed/wanted two cars. The only cosmetic flaw was that someone slit the side of the seat to get the power seat controller out (MORONS!).
I bought it because I’d rendered my then girlfriend’s ’68 AMC Rebel inoperable after changing the timing chain. Her dad had taught her how to drive in his ’66 Bonneville, so she was right at home in the Executive.
And who can forget Pontiac’s add campaign? It was on a new level:
There’s really nothing quite like a mid-sixties, full-size, stacked-headlight Pontiac. If I had to choose the car that most typifies the decade, this might be it. Oh, it could be said that there are Ford, Chrysler, and other GM products from the era that were better looking more popular (they sure sold a lot of Mustangs), but there’s just nothing that pulls it all together like this car. Pontiac ‘was’ the sixties.
I briefly drove a hand-me-down ’67 four door Catalina and I recall thinking “if only it was one year older”; wow, what a difference a year makes.
Has anyone read about the Catalina convertible that NASA used to tow a lifting body aircraft? i see it was a ’63 (mis-remembered it being a ’65). It was a 421 4 speed if I remember that part correctly.
Very nice, though I’ve always preferred the ’65 with its exposed chrome headlight bezels.
I felt the opposite when these appeared in late 1965. The hooded headlights and grills, and the similarly-treated taillamps in the rear seemed like just what a customizer would have done to the 1965. Today, I would give either one a second, then a third look, or more.
Then came the 1967, whose front with its split-level headlights looked all junked-up for the sake of junking-up.
Yes! That’s a good name for those ’67 headlights. Never could figure out where GM was going with these!
My father had two convertibles at a time in Northeast Ohio. He bought a new 1966 Catalina convertible in light metallic blue with darker blue top and interior. Its stable mate was a 1964 Lemans convertible in gold. A 1962 tan Catalina convertible was traded on the 1966. All were nice and trouble free. The 1966 was the nicest. He was a Dodge fan until the Dealer screwed up his order for a 1962 Dodge convertible; the one with a Dodge nose on a Chrysler. He had used that Dodge dealer since 1946! They never contacted him even though he bought new cars frequently, and in my opinion, their products improved.
Beautiful car, beautiful photo. And proof that not all white cars look boring!
I just ran across this CC 66 Grand Prix on the streets of Hollywood this week-end. Well-worn but solid with original plates. My favorites are the 63 and 67 GPs but this one is pretty nice as well.
Just stunning. A great design on an affordable car that was also a great value. For about a hundred bucks more than an 8 cyl. Impala you got great styling along with 100 more cubic inches and a 3 speed Hydra-matic over 2 speed Powerglide.
Was Pontiac ever on a roll in the ’60’s? The Grand Prix, GTO, Firebird .. even the full-sizers were nice. Number 3 in sales most of these years. Bunkie teed it up nicely before heading to Chevrolet and Pete Estes and John Z. followed through – geniuses all. Hard to believe this once iconic brand is now in the dust bin of history. Sad.
No words are necessary. I will say that the front and rear styling on the 1965 models was far and away the most beautiful Pontiac ever. It seems Pontiac knew they could not improve on it, and it looks as if they didn’t try for ’66. Then came the ’69s, another beautiful story for another day.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Notify me of follow-up comments by email.
Notify me of new posts by email.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Copyright 2011 - 2021 Curbside Classics. All Rights Reserved.