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AJ's Car of the Day 1963 Pontiac Tempest Super-Duty Lightweight
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Car: Pontiac Tempest Super-Duty Lightweight

Year: 1963

What makes it special: The Pontiac Tempest Lightweight Super Duty was designed to compete on the drag strips of America. Although Pontiac had a strong start in the '60s with its Super Duty parts program and factory-built SD Catalina and Grand Prix race cars, competition from Dodge and Plymouth started causing a major threat with their powerful 426 cu in wedge-head race engines and lightweight bodies, stealing Pontiac's thunder.

What made it famous: Pontiac used its Tempest to defend Pontiac's honor on the drag strip, and they dropped their brutal 421 Super Duty V8 race engine into its compact body. A lower-profile dual-quad intake manifold was cast to clear the Tempest hood. The crankshaft had six extra holes drilled in the end flange to mate it to the curved drive-shaft. This version of the 421 Super Duty boasted a 12:1 compression ratio and was rated at 405 bhp, but the actual power figure was somewhere closer to 500. To seal the deal, these compact Pontiacs were fitted with full aluminum noses and their doors had much of their inner bracing removed to save weight as well.

Why I would want one: This good looking little Pontiac was produced in small numbers making it a rare and desired "must have" commodity, and one would only have to assume that it is the equivalent of what can only be best described as a "Land Rocket." I would thoroughly enjoy strapping into one of these and mashing the gas pedal to the floor.

Fun fact: Unfortunately, on January 24, 1963, fearing an antitrust suit from the U.S. Department of Justice, GM announced that it was pulling out of all factory-supported racing activities. Allegedly, their "Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday" marketing philosophy was working too well, pushing GM's market share dangerously close to the 60% figure that would trigger a federal investigation. Once Pontiac's Super Duty program was halted most teams quickly sought factory deals with Chrysler and Ford. The few 1963 Super Duty cars that made it out of GM before the doors slammed shut are now in the hands of private racers and collectors. As it stand now, only four coupes and one wagon are known to survive, and of those, just one coupe and wagon have been restored to original condition.

( 1963 Pontiac Tempest Super-Duty Lightweight photo from streetlegaltv.com )

Driven by Vogue Performance Exhaust & Precision Tune Auto Care

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