CC Car Show Classic: 1964 Pontiac Tempest Coupe – Bare Bones



I came across this little gem somewhere in the Kissimmee-Sanford area of central Florida, at the Wide-Track Warriors annual Pontiac show. It’s the ultimate anti-GTO.



This was as close to four-wheels-and-an-engine as you could get from a Pontiac dealer in 1964, a year that marked the debut of the formerly compact Tempest as an intermediate sharing GM’s new A-body–as well as the return of a six-cylinder engine to the Ponitac lineup.  A new 215 cu. in., 140-hp six-cylinder base engine was in, and gone were both the half-a-389 four-cylinder and “rope drive” (1963 Le Mans CC here). The six was actually a Chevy engine whose bore and stroke had been jiggered to make 215 cubic inches.

This one is as bare-bones as it gets, despite the set of full wheel covers that could well have been its only option. A set of ultra-cheap “dog dishes” would look good. Really plain cars and fully loaded cars represent the peaks and valleys of car optioning, which is interesting at either end of the spectrum. This car was about as low as you could go: three-on-the-tree, radio delete, no wheel-trim ring, rubber mats, a real po-boy special. Something like this would have run you about $2,300 back in 1964 ($16,800 adjusted).


Back in its day, you could order options a la carte,  which meant could order a heater delete along with the deluxe speed-minder. Note the prison-spec upholstery and spare door panels.  It’s unusual to see a car like this one survive; there were only about 21,000 made, and usually something this plain was bought to be run into the ground–or to sit, barely used, in Aunt Mathilda’s garage.