1965 Pontiac Bonneville 421

25 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 1965 Pontiac Bonneville 421

1965 Pontiac Bonneville 421

The of the style that ruled the

by John F. Katz

y 1965, was more than a dimension at It was a state of mind, a shorthand for the carefully crafted image of and performance that had brought back from the brink.

nine years earlier, in 1956, Semon E. Bunkie had taken over a division was sixth in the industry and sinking Knudsen, then 43, astutely to re-target Pontiac toward car buyers. He quickly recruited Estes. 40, as chief engineer, Z. DeLorean. 31, as head of Advanced and Jack Humbert, 34, as styling

Sales bottomed out at a frighteningly low in 1958—less than 5 percent of the But the radically restyled 1959 with their extra-wide tread, grabbed 382,137 for 6.3 percent of all new cars. By 1961, had inched past Rambler to the No.

3 sales position, behind and Ford.

That same Pontiac began planning a new lineup for 1965. Complicating the was a new edict from GM management, that all divisions share steering, brakes and climate Remarkably, Pontiac managed to its winning personality intact.

The even finagled a 64-inch between the new Pontiac’s rear which were still the in the industry, if only by an inch.

for these full-size models from a 256-horsepower, 389-cid V8 a two-barrel carb, up to a pair of 421s packing 356 and 376 horsepower,

Pontiac’s full-size lineup with the basic Catalina outsold even Chevy’s in 1964) on a wheelbase of 121 inches. on the Catalina theme included the appointed Ventura, and the muscular with a four-barrel 421 and heavy-duty Buyers looking for a smoother could choose the Star an upgraded four-door with its axle pushed back inches, for a wheelbase of 124 inches.

The Prix. Pontiac’s flagship coupe, shared the Catalina’s chassis, but it could be instantly by its more formal roofline and backlight. A unique grille, and interior trim set the Grand apart.

Then there was the the plushest of all Pontiacs, riding the Chief’s stretched wheelbase, but a full range of body Bonnevilles boasted their own treatment. plus skirted and a broad, stainless-steel rocker that visually lowered and the body. Although the Grand with a base price of cost $138 more, the cleaner, semi-fastback Bonnie was better-looking.

The Bonneville is big, noted Car in August 1965, reasonably [with a 325-hp 389], luxurious in spaciousness, appointment, and good on the road, and smooth and around town. And even other GM cars shared of the same mechanical components, few to get the combination of road stability, ease and passenger comfort found in the current Pontiac.

All the new big from GM featured cross-flow for a lower profile, and curved glass. Still, Humbert to give the Pontiacs a look set them apart. Motor raved about the 1965 ‘ undulating flanks, edges, sporty accents, and tailored hardware.

Designer Dave Holls ran the studio then, but he still back with admiration on the Pontiacs—especially the Bonneville. All the GM full-sized that year were sensational, he remembers, explaining how the pinched at the waist and kicked up in the quarters for a three-dimensional Coke-bottle And the Bonneville epitomized that. The version was a very flowing

It looked best with the rear fenders.

Karl Bonneville is an AACA Preservation winner. Fisher has indulged in a deviation from stock a 2+2-style pinstripe along the body.

A friend of Karl bought our featured Bonneville new in Fisher went along to the and helped his friend pick out all the stuff: the 356-hp Tri-Power 421 Turbo-Hydramatic, power steering, brakes, cast aluminum and brake drums, tinted That brought the bottom to $4,476, including destination

Fisher knew his buddy kept a car for more than two and by 1967—just as he planned—it was Karl who was the Bonneville. He used the car for daily until 1979, when he to restore it.

The front bench is soft and laid-back; the dash big, legible gauges in wood paneling. The 421 speaks a rich, basso rumble, its comfortably muffled but still loud. Every slight of your throttle foot a different, delicious, hot rod sound

The speedometer reaches 50 mph about as as you can think about it, then 70. the gas pedal to the floor to open all six and it feels as if some supernatural has picked you up and hurled you toward the

Despite its taut ride, the still rolls hard in and it’s easy to creep up on the limit of its bias-ply tires. The is responsive, but utterly numb. The are touchy, though not hard to get to.

Pontiac’s market penetration at nearly 10 percent in 1967—then off sharply, along with the for performance cars in general. By Knudsen, Estes and DeLorean had all promoted out of the division, and Pontiac—the car had owned the 1960s—slipped back fourth place behind

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