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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • GEORGE WASHINGTON CROSSING THE PIES

Car Noir: 1977

Car Noir: 1977

A very quiet night, after midnight in Medford, Massachusetts. Not sure of the make or year of the car. View full size.

Zoom, Zoom

I think the Catalina crowd is right. If you zoom, it does look like it says Catalina in the script form unique to that line, and the point is correct that Bonneville's name was on the rear fender (in a serifed font) and Catalina always on the front.

But chrome alone would be not so reliable, as I've found many Bonnevilles without the rocker chrome and many Catalinas with it. The name position IS the giveaway. I'm finally convincinced it's a '64 Catalina due for a wheel to fall off.

Clearly Catalina

This is not a Bonneville as it is missing the side trim that is on the Catalina. The Bonneville also has heavy chrome trim along the fender bottoms and rocker panels. The Catalina name is on the front fender. The Bonneville has the model name on the back fender.

A comparison of the Bonneville and Catalina is shown below. I flipped the Catalina photo horizontally to make the comparison easier so the Catalina script on the front fender is backwards if you look closely.

64 Catalina

Looks like a '64 Catalina to me w/ 8 lugs. I can't tell if it's a 2+2 or not. Pontiac went from 4 speed hydramatics to 3 speed slim jims (~61 -62) to Turbo 400's ('65) and 375's (mid '70's?) in full size cars. No two speeds in full size cars. No powerglides I recall in any Pontiacs, two speeds were Super Turbine 300's in the intermediates and Firebirds.

Without glare

Let's make that 1964 Bonneville coupe:

Another Pontiac Memory

Some years back, I had a neighbor who was a storm-chaser and always off in the SUV hunting tornados. Always gone when I wanted to mow and always leaving his black vinyl over yellow '65 Catalina coupe well over the lawn I needed to mow. It didn't take me long to figure out the '65 Cadillac key worked in that car. So I always just got in and moved it. But I always turned it backwards from the way it had been. I never told him my keys fit. (That was the last time I drove a Pontiac. Probably not far enough for the wheels to fall off.)

1964 Pontiac Bonneville two door hardtop

My neighbor had one very much like this! 389 CID with four barrel Rochester carburetor, most likely a two speed Power-glide automatic transmission and gas was 28 cents a gallon! Although in 1977 it was more like 98 cents! My brother had a 1965 GTO where I had my first date in a car where he gave me the keys! Thanks for the memories!

Catalina

JD nailed it -- '64 Catalina 2+2 2-dr hardtop. Total production for this model just under 75,000 for the year. Always liked this roofline, shared with Chevy's Impala, Oldsmobile's Dynamic 88, and, possibly, Buick's Wildcat.

It's a 64

The fore and aft bumper profiles identify the year: they were unique to 1964. The wheels are 8 lug fins.

I think it is...

...about a 1963 full sized Pontiac to me.

Guessing

Pontiac, Grand Prix, 1965 or so?

2 door Pontiac

Looks like a 1964 Pontiac Catalina.

"The wheels will fall off"

1962 Pontiac Bonneville coupe.

My dad kept buying Pontiacs after 1956, after a series of Jaguars and Studebakers. We had a '56 Chieftan, then a '59 Star Chief, then a '63 GTO, then a '64 Grand Prix, and finally a '65 Bonneville. And, yes, indeed, at some point or other, each and every one of those Pontiacs had a wheel fall off. By about the third one my dad brought home, my mom would look disdainfully at all that chrome and say, "The wheels will fall off". So we switched to Cadillacs in '65 (I still have that one) and back to Jaguars (and I still have all those).

When I was three, my uncle let me drive his wife's pink '57 Star Chief up the old brick streets of Amarillo, Texas. I remember it like it was yesterday. My aunt, my parents, and my 4-year-old sister were in the back seat. I remember my aunt saying, "Do you think this is really a good idea?" and him replying, "Look, he's doing just fine". And I was. And I still have never hit anything nor been hit. And have great insurance rates to prove it. Maybe ya' gotta start 'em early.

Truth is, I remember all those times on the side of the road with wheels off very clearly and quite fondly. It was good family time with mom singing to us kids while Dad traipsed off sullenly to the nearest town.

Car I.D.

Pontiac, ca. mid-late '60s, possibly a Bonneville. I'm sure somebody out there will know all the specifics.

 
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