NEW! Award 103: 1961 Pontiac Catalina Convertible – $111,000

by | Jun 2022 | Classifinds, Topless Thursday

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The Eisenhower Recession of 1958 had a tremendous effect on car designs of the early 1960s. To start the decade, every major U.S. manufacturer now offered a compact car line. In 1961, General Motors (“GM”) downsized its full-size car line-up that all-but-eliminated tail fins. While styling may have been toned down to reflect the times, engines worked on the hoods to increase power.  A prime example is this restored 1961 Pontiac Catalina convertible currently listed here on Craigslist in Fernandina Beach, Florida (Jacksonville). Not only does this Catalina feature a rarely seen Taupe/Brown/Tan color combination, the 389 cubic inch V8 in this example features an early example of Pontiac’s Tri-Power induction system that mechanically linked three two-barrel carburetors as the driver depresses the gas pedal.

Currently offered for an eye-watering $111,000, Classic.com, the analytics and search engine for the collector car market, confirms the ask would be record money for a second-generation Catalina:

As a second data point, the  Collector Car Market Review Online Tool reveals the seller’s ask falls way beyond this guide’s #1 “Excellent” appraisal of only $63,700 after factoring in a thirty percent premium for the 318 horsepower Tri-Power engine and the eight-lug wheels.  Finally, even the often over-inflated Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool confirms the seller’s ask is well above this guide’s #1 “Concours” appraisal of only $66,400. Unfortunately, the seller’s attempt to recoup “…over $60K in restoration costs…” is not in touch with market reality and thus earns him our latest “NEW!” (short for “No Effin Way!”) Award for pricing their restored Cat nearly double that of what the current market will bear.

Pontiac produced the Catalina as a full-size car from 1950 through 1981.  Initially, the name was a trim line on hardtop body styles, first appearing in the 1950 Chieftain Eight and DeLuxe Eight lines. In 1959, it became a separate model as the “entry-level” full-size Pontiac.

General Motors completely redesigned the full-size “B” and “C” body car lines for 1961.  Pontiacs for 1961 featured more squared-off body lines, the reintroduction of the split grille first seen in 1959, and an all-new Torque-Box perimeter frame with side rails replacing the “X” frame chassis used since 1958. The new frame not only provided greater side-impact protection than the “X” design but also improved interior roominess.

The distinctive protruding grille made its appearance on all Pontiac products during the early 1960s, and was a modern revival of a similar appearance on Pontiac products during the 1930s and early 1940s, as demonstrated on the Pontiac Torpedo.  Wrap-around windshields were dropped in favor of flatter glasswork for improved entry and exit to the front seat.

The new body was slightly smaller and lighter than the 1960 model with the wheelbase down three inches to 119, overall length reduced by the same to 210 in, and width dropping nearly two inches to 78.2. The front and rear track of the 1961-62 Pontiac was reduced to 62.5 inches front and rear. The 1961 Pontiac was advertised as “all Pontiac…on a new wide track.”

All engines were again 389 cubic inch V8s as in previous years, now called “Trophy” engines. rather than “Tempest” (including the larger 421ci “big bore” engine). Standard engines are two-barrel units rated at 215 horsepower with the three-speed manual transmission or 267 horsepower with the optional Hydramatic, with a 230 horsepower regular-fuel-capable “economy” V8 offered as a no-cost option with the Hydramatic. Offered as extra-cost options were more powerful versions of the 389 including a 303 horsepower version with a four-barrel carburetor or a 318 horsepower  Tri-Power option.

A new “three-speed four-range” “Roto Hydramatic” automatic transmission replaced the previous four-speed unit for 1961. The new transmission was slimmer and lighter than the older four-speed Hydramatic, which was continued on the larger Star Chief and Bonneville models. Also new for 1961 was a four-speed manual transmission with a Hurst floor shifter, available on special order.

The Cars&Stripes YouTube Channel features this 1961 Pontiac of Canada commercial:

Don’t get us wrong: this 1961 Pontiac Catalina appears to be a beautiful, well-restored convertible in a rarely-seen, stunning color combination that we would love to add to our fantasy collection. Unfortunately, the seller (and we assume restoration funder) is about to learn a hard but frequent lesson that the cost of car restoration often out-paces what the market is willing to pay.  It will be interesting to see whether someone is willing to pay what will be record money for the car, especially for a Craigslist sale.

If you are serious about buying this restored Catalina, you can start the conversation by emailing the seller.  When you connect, please remember to mention you saw their vintage Pontiac featured here on GuysWithRides.com. Good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“Super clean 1961 Pontiac Catalina 389 tri-power convertible
This car is a must-see!
Over $60 in restoration costs.
No tire kickers, serious buyers only!
Please call the phone number for information

Show or go: What would you do with this restored 1961 Pontiac Catalina Tri-Power convertible?  Please comment below and let us know!

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