Forgotten Engines: 1964-1965 Pontiac 215 Six – Built by Pontiac or Chevrolet?

(first posted 8/30/2017)      One of the more forgotten engines is the Pontiac 215 six, available on the Tempest and LeMans in 1964 and 1965. It has of course been greatly overshadowed by the OHC six that replaced it in 1966. The 215 was hardly anything that special, as it was nothing more than a Chevy six with a unique bore size (3.75″), which placed it right between the Chevy 194 and 230 cubic inch sixes. The only possible mystery is this: did Chevrolet actually build them for Pontiac, or did Pontiac build them itself? Definitive information is not readily at hand.

What is clear is that bold “PONTIAC” on its block casting. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily negate the possibility of Chevy casting it for Pontiac, but it’s clear that Pontiac was eager to have it be seen as its own engine.

The 215’s power rating was 140 (gross) hp, which was exactly the same as the Chevy 230’s power rating. Presumably Pontiac tuned theirs slightly differently to make up the difference given its smaller displacement.

And here’s an interesting tidbit: the four speed manual was available with the 215 six. Chevy would offer the four speed with the sixes on the Camaro, but not on their other cars. John DeLorean’s influence is obvious.


There’s incredibly little information out there on the 215 six, except that it is often called “Chevy derived”. That’s a bit of an understatement.


The only significant difference is that the 215’s flywheel and/or flex plate had the Pontiac bolt pattern.


So if any of you can clear up a bit of a mystery that I’ve had since 1964, I’d love to resolve it once and for all.