Story of the Week

Posted: 04.11.2017
Remembering the 1962 wide-track Pontiac models
By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images courtesy of the National Automotive History Collection

 

 

With its restyled 1962 line-up, muscle car pioneers Pontiac reached new heights with its blend of engineering and new, wide-track design.

The 1962 Pontiacs were great looking designed automobiles featuring 14 versatile wide-track models in four distinctive series. The models were introduced to the public on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 1961. The late Mr. Simon E. Knudson, General Motors vice president and Pontiac's Motor Division general manager said at the time, “Pontiac intends to continue its leadership of the medium price class in 1962 with an imposing line of new cars which are unparalleled in beauty, performance, handling, reliability and riding comfort.”

 

The 1962 Pontiac models offered a dramatic and prestigious look throughout all 13 wide-track models. One of the more distinctive features was the new V-shaped front end grille which became a hit with the motoring public along with its sweeping, side sculpting designs.

 

That year, Pontiac also introduced another great looking car called the Grand Prix labeling it as the “Personalized Sports Car.” The Grand Prix was a two-door hardtop coupe that featured a distinctive exterior along with dynamic bucket seats. The Grand Prix models were introduced to the public on Sept.19, 1961 offering consumers a fresh, new look in motoring. Buyers had a choice of five different color interiors with the new Grand Prix, as well as aluminum wheel covers and a four-speed Synchromesh transmission. Motor Trend magazine stated at the time, “The Grand Prix appears to be very well proportioned without a trace of bulge or heaviness of line anywhere.” In essence, the production Grand Prix models was a modernized version of the production Super Chief concept.

 

The Bonneville was another exciting vehicle revealed for the 1962 line. The Bonneville models quickly became a great sales leader and, at the time, people loved the new and dynamic styling. Other models included the Star Chief, Catalina and Safari station wagons.

On an historical note, the first Pontiac was built in 1926 and by 1935, the company had manufactured 1 million cars. By March of 1962, the growing and popular brand had reached 75 million cars in production. Many of Pontiac’s employees turned out for the celebration with the 75 millionth car rolled off the line highlighting a great milestone for the company. The car was a pearl-ivory Bonneville convertible, which had rolled of the assembly line at Pontiac's main assembly plant. The honor of driving the car off the line fell to Pete Estes who was named president of the Pontiac division in 1961.

 

The milestone event observance was made possible through the know-how ingenuity and loyalty of Pontiac employees who took such great pride in building a quality product. The late Mr. Art Fitzpatrick and Mr. Van Kaufman illustrated the great looking 1962 Pontiac artwork.

In 1961, the late Mr. John Z. DeLorean had become involved with the small car market program at the Pontiac Division for General Motors. The Pontiac Tempest became a part of General Motors assembly line manufacturing on Nov. 3, 1960. The Tempest models became very popular among consumers along with a great sales market for General Motors, and many consumers really enjoyed the slick and compact Tempest styling.

The Tempest models out sold similarly sized General Motors products introduced in 1961. The 1962 Tempest series consisted of five popular models. The 1962 Tempest also had retained its front engine-rear transmissions power train arrangement.

 

On April 12, 1962, the 8 millionth Pontiac tempest model rolled off the assembly line, it represented the most significant milestone in the 36-year history of the Pontiac Motor Division. It was at the time a personal tribute to each Pontiac employee, customer and supplier.

In conclusion, Pontiac models for 1962 will always be a part of our automotive history.


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