Pontiac Catalina

Infobox Automobile


name = Pontiac Catalina
aka = Pontiac Laurentian
manufacturer = General Motors
production = 1950-1981
assembly = Pontiac, Michigan
Oshawa, Ontario, Canada (Laurentian)
predecessor = Pontiac Chieftain
successor = Pontiac Parisienne (U.S. Only)
class = Full-size
layout = FR layout
related =
The Pontiac Catalina was part of Pontiac's full-sized automobile line. Initially, the name was used strictly to denote hardtop body styles, first appearing in the 1950 "Chieftain Eight" and "DeLuxe Eight" lines. In 1959, the "Catalina" became a separate model, as the 'entry-level' full-size Pontiac. [cite book | author = Gunnell, John, Editor | title = The Standard Catalogue of American Cars 1946-1975 | publisher = Kraus Publications | year = 1987 | id = ISBN 0-87341-096-3]

1950-1958

Infobox Automobile generation
name = First generation
production = 1950-1958


body_style = 4-door sedan
2-door coupe
2-door convertible
The name Catalina was first used on the 1950 Chieftain Series 25/27 hardtop, Pontiac's top of the line model at the time. Originally referred to as 'hard-top convertibles', these vehicles offered pillarless design in the door and window areas, along with the top-grade convertible appointments. The advantage this fixed-roof design offered was its sporty, airy feeling without the expense and drawbacks normally associated with convertibles. With the exception of the 1958 Bonneville, all Pontiac hardtops were designated Catalina from 1950 to 1958. Powered by a flathead straight-8 engine at the time of its debut, it would receive Pontiac's new 287 CID OHV V8 four years later.

1959-1960

Infobox Automobile generation
name = Second generation
production = 1959-1960
assembly =
body_style = 2-door coupe
2-door convertible
4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
engine = 389 CID V8
transmission =
wheelbase = 122 in
length = 213.7 in
related =
transmission = 3-speed manual
4-speed automatic
For 1959, Pontiac dropped the name Chieftain for its entry level model and renamed it "Catalina", while demoting the former top-line "Star Chief" to mid-line status and expanding the "Bonneville" nameplate to a full flagship series that included sedans, coupes, convertibles and "Safari" station wagons.

In the lower-priced Catalina line, Pontiac Division advertising placed higher emphasis on the top trimmed two and four door hardtops, convertible and "Safari" station wagons instead of the pillared two and four door sedan variants despite the fact that the four-door sedan was the bread-and-butter best seller in this line.

The Catalina, though it was the lowest-priced full-sized Pontiac, was still a substantial step up from the Chevrolet Impala in trim and appointments and only a short step below the Buick LeSabre and Oldsmobile 88 in trim and appointments but priced about $100 to $200 less. Catalinas also came standard with more amenities than Chevrolet models and included a larger and more powerful V8 engine of 389 cubic inches, compared to the Chevy's six-cylinder or 283 and 348 cubic-inch V8s. Pontiacs also benefited from a much better automatic transmission than their Chevrolet counterparts - the four-speed Hydra-Matic - versus the Chevy's two-speed Powerglide.

Though the basic Catalina was well equipped with features such as full carpeting, glovebox and trunk lights, dual front ashtrays, cigar lighter, glove compartment snack bar (two cup indents on the glovebox door that could be opened for use at drive-in restaurants), heater/defroster and a choice of cloth and Morrokide vinyl upholstery or expanded Morrokide (all-vinyl trim), Pontiac buyers could add even more trimmings for a few dollars more by ordering the Decor Group which added full wheel covers, deluxe steering wheel, chrome pedal trim plates and more. Also offered from 1962 to 1970 on most Catalina models was the Ventura custom interior (which was a separate model in 1960 to 1961), which included the interior and exterior upgrades offered with the extra-cost decor group option plus a slightly more luxurious interior of cloth or Morrokide trims similar to the costlier Pontiac Star Chief or Executive depending on year.

Catalina and other 1959 Pontiacs were completely restyled on a new General Motors B-body that was shared by all GM divisions from Chevrolet to Cadillac, replacing the previous A-body utilized for Pontiacs and Chevrolets that was used only for 1958. Styling highlights included thin-pillar rooflines and greater use of glass for increased visibility. Pillared four-door sedans featured six-window styling, while two-door hardtops were dubbed the "bubbletop" due to the thin c-pillar and large rear window and four-door hardtops featured flat-blade rooflines with an overhang past the rear window. Wheelbases on all models remained at 122 inches, but overall length was convert|213.7|in|mm.

The 1959 Pontiacs featured a new styling trademark - the "split grille" which easily distinguish a Pontiac from any other car on the highway and has remained a Pontiac trademark to this day. Along with the wider body came a wider chassis in which the wheels were moved further out by five inches almost to fender level. This not only improved the appearance of the car, but Pontiac engineers discovered that pushing the wheels further out also led to vast improvements in ride and handling - hence the term "Wide Track" which Pontiac would use in its promotional efforts for many years to come.

All Pontiacs were powered by various renditions of the new 389 cubic-inch Trophy V8, which was basically a bored-out version of the 370 cubic-inch V8 used in 1958-model Pontiacs and based on the same Pontiac V8 design introduced in 1955. Catalinas came standard with a convert|235|hp version of the 389 with two-barrel carburetor and 8.6 to 1 compression mated to the three-speed manual transmission. When the optional four-speed Hydramatic transmission was ordered, the standard engine was convert|283|hp version of the same engine with higher 10.5 to 1 compression ratio. Available as a no-cost option with the Hydramatic transmission was the 215-horsepower 389 (dubbed the Economy V8) with 8.6 to 1 compression ratio which burned cheaper regular gasoline, instead of the premium and super-premium fuels required for the high-compression engines, and capable of achieving more than 20 MPG on the highway. Optionally available at extra cost were higher-power of the 389 V8 with four-barrel carburetion rated at convert|283|hp with stick shift or 303 with Hydramatic, or "Tri-Power" options with three two-barrel carburetors and horsepower ratings of 318 and 330.

For 1960, Catalina and other Pontiacs received a minor facelifting of the '59 bodyshell with a new full-width horizontal bar grille similar to the 1930s Cord replacing 1959's split grille (for this year only-the split grille returned in 1961) and round taillights. Bodystyles and drivetrain offerings were unchanged from 1959. New to the option list was a "Sportable Transistor" radio that could be used in the car in place of the regular "in-dash" radio or removed from the car for use as a portable with battery power. Also new for 1960 were the optional "eight lug" aluminum wheels with integral brake drums that not only enhanced the car's looks but also provided improved stopping power. Another popular option for performance enthusiasts was the "Safe-T-Track" limited slip differential.

Inside, a revised instrument panel featured a new horizontal sweep speedometer along with minor changes in trim patterns.

1961-64

Infobox Automobile generation
name = Third generation


production = 1961-1964
assembly =
body_style = 2-door coupe
2-door convertible
4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
engine = 389 CID V8
421 CID V8
transmission = 3-speed manual
3-speed Roto-Hydramatic automatic
wheelbase = 119 in (1961)
120 in (1962-64)
length = 210 in
width = 78.2 in
related =
The 1961 full-sized Pontiacs were completely restyled with more squared-off bodylines, the reintroduction of the split grille first seen in 1959 and dropped for 1960 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.

Rooflines were more squared off on four-door models with the six-window styling dropped on pillared sedans and wider C-pillars with flat rear windows on four-door hardtops. A revised version of the 1959-60 "bubbletop" roof was used on two-door hardtops. Wrap-around windshields were dropped in favor of flatter glass work for improved entry and exit to the front seat.

The new body was somewhat smaller and lighter than the 1960 model with wheelbase down three inches (76 mm) to 119, overall length reduced by the same to convert|210|in|mm and width dropping nearly two inches to 78.2 from Auto in|80|1 1960. Despite the reduced length and width, the wider track between the wheels was retained for outstanding ride and handling characteristics. The new '61 Pontiac was advertised as "All Pontiac...On a New Wide Track."

All engines were again 389 cubic-inch V8s as in previous years. Standard engines were two-barrel units rated at 215 with the three-speed manual transmission or 267 with the optional Hydramatic, with a convert|230|hp regular-fuel 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 convert|303|hp version with four-barrel carburetor or convert|318|hp Tri-Power option with three two-barrel carburetors. New to the option list were two higher performance versions of the 389 V8 including a four-barrel convert|333|hp unit and a convert|348|hp Tri-Power option, both with higher 10.75 to 1 compression ratios.

A new three-speed Roto Hydramatic 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 Hurst floor shifter, available on special order.

The 1962 Pontiacs received a heavy facelift of the 1961 design with more rounded body contours and new rooflines on two-door hardtops featuring convertible-like bows. Catalina sedans and coupes got a one-inch wheelbase increase to 120, after spending 1961 on a 119-inch spread shared with full-sized Chevys (Safari wagons retained the convert|119|in|mm|sing=on wheelbase through 1964).

Most regular engine/transmission offerings were carried over from 1961 with the 389 cubic-inch Trophy V8 again ranging in horsepower ratings from 215 to 348. A small number of 1962 Catalinas and other Pontiacs were built with a "non-streetable" 421 cubic-inch Super Duty V8 with dual quads (two four-barrel carburetors) and convert|405|hp, along with various "over the counter" performance options offered by Pontiac including aluminum bumpers and even lighter frames with drilled holes (which were dubbed the "Swiss Cheese" frames).

For 1963, Catalinas and other full-sized Pontiacs featured cleaner, squared-off bodylines and vertical headlights flanking the split grille, but retained the same dimensions and basic bodyshell of 1961-62. Engine offerings were revised as the 333 and convert|348|hp versions of the 389 V8 were dropped in favor of "production" versions of the larger 421 cubic-inch V8 rated at convert|338|hp with four-barrel carburetor, 353 with Tri-Power or an "HO" version with Tri-Power rated at convert|370|hp. The convert|405|hp "Super Duty 421" was still offered to racing teams during the early portion of the model year but discontinued after General Motors ordered Pontiac (and Chevrolet) to "cease and desist" from factory-supported racing efforts in February, 1963. New options for 1963 included a tilt steering wheel that could be adjusted to six different positions, AM/FM radio and cruise control.

Mild facelifting including new grilles and taillights highlighted the 1964 full-sized Pontiacs. Engine/transmission offerings were unchanged from 1963 except for a new GM-built Muncie four-speed manual replacing the Borg-Warner T-10 unit. Also new for 1964, was the 2+2 option package available on Catalina two-door hardtops and convertibles that included bucket seats, heavy-duty suspension and other performance equipment, along with the same selection of 389 and 421 cubic-inch V8s found in other Catalinas.

Throughout most of the 1960s when Pontiac annually captured third-place in industry sales behind leaders Chevrolet and Ford, the Catalina was also often the industry's third best-selling full-sized car behind the first-place Chevrolet Impala and second-place Ford Galaxie 500. The Catalina's success in the low-medium priced field led many competitors to respond with similar products such as the 1961 Chrysler Newport, a less-expensive Chrysler that was priced lower than base models bearing the Chrysler nameplate in recent previous years; and the 1962 Dodge Custom 880 and 1963 Mercury Monterey, both of which were introduced as full-fledged low-medium priced full-sized cars in size and power that followed unsuccessful efforts by Mercury and Dodge to bring out downsized full-sized cars.

In 1964, even Pontiac's mid-priced rivals within General Motors responded to the Catalina's success in the marketplace as well as to capture Chevy Impala owners "trading up" to cars from upscale GM divisions. Buick took its lowest-priced big car, the LeSabre, and lowered the base sticker cost further by substituting a smaller 300 cubic inch V8 engine and two-speed automatic transmission from its intermediate-sized cars in place of the larger 401 cubic-inch V8 and three-speed automatic used in other big Buicks. Oldsmobile went even further by creating a whole new full-sized series, the Jetstar 88, which was $75 lower than the Dynamic 88 series (but still a few dollars higher than comparable Pontiac Catalina models) and also got a smaller engine - a 330 cubic-inch V8 and two-speed automatic transmission from the intermediate F-85/Cutlass line, along with smaller convert|9.5|in|mm|sing=on brake drums (also from the GM intermediates) compared to the 11-12 inch drums still found on all other GM full-sized cars from the "strippo" six-cylinder Chevrolet Biscayne to the Cadillac 75 limousine. And since the Catalina was still priced lower than the Olds Jetstar and Buick LeSabre, the lowest-priced full-sized Pontiac was often perceived by buyers as a better value in the marketplace due to its larger standard V8 engine and three-speed automatic transmission, and in comparison to the Olds Jetstar 88 - bigger brakes.

1965-68

Infobox Automobile generation
name = Fourth generation


production = 1965-1968
assembly =
body_style = 2-door coupe
2-door convertible
4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
engine = 389 CID V8
400 CID V8
421 CID V8
428 CID V8
transmission = 3-speed manual
3-speed THM400 automatic
wheelbase = 121 in
length =
related =
The 1965 full-sized Pontiacs were completely restyled with more flowing sheetmetal featuring "Coke-bottle" profiles and fastback rooflines on two-door hardtops. Wheelbases increased to convert|121|in|mm on all models.

A new three-speed Turbo Hydramatic automatic transmission replaced the previous Roto Hydramatic unit on full-sized Pontiacs for 1965. The "Turbo" was a three-speed torque converter unit similar in basic design to Chrysler's Torqueflite and Ford's Cruise-O-Matic transmissions - a move that made torque converter automatics the universal design for shiftless transmissions, and relegated the original fluid-coupling Hydramatic to history. Though the "Turbo" transmission continued to use the Hydramatic name, it shared none of its design with the older transmission. The Turbo Hydramatic also adopted the standardized "P-R-N-D-S-L" shift pattern which replaced the "P-N-D-S-L-R" pattern long familiar to owners of Hydramatic-equipped Pontiacs, Oldsmobiles and Cadillacs.

The 389 and 421 cubic-inch V8s received a number of revisions including thinner wall block castings. The standard engine for Catalina models was the 389 two-barrel rated at convert|256|hp with base three-speed manual transmission and 8.6 to 1 compression or 290 horses with Turbo Hydramatic transmission and higher 10.5 to 1 compression. An economy regular-fuel convert|265|hp version of the 389 two-barrel with 8.6 to 1 compression ratio that burned regular gas was available as a no-cost option with Turbo Hydramatic. Optional engines included a four-barrel 389 rated at convert|325|hp with Turbo Hydramatic or 333 with stick shift, a Tri-Power 389 rated at 338 horses, a four-barrel 421 rated at the same 338 horsepower, 353 horses with Tri-Power or the 421 HO with Tri-Power and convert|376|hp.

The 2+2 option changed from a trim package to an all-out performance car package for 1965 similar to Pontiac's intermediate-sized GTO. The base engine with the 2+2 was now the 338-horsepower 421 four-barrel with the convert|353|hp Tri-Power or 376-horsepower 421 HO with Tri-Power available as options.

The 1966 full-sized Pontiacs received minor a facelifting of the '65 body with new grilles and taillight treatment. Inside, the instrument panel was revised along with interior trim. The 2+2 was upgraded from an option to full model status and engine/transmission offerings on all Catalina models remained the same as 1965 with the exception being the elimination of the 338-horsepower 389 Tri-Power option.

For 1967, Catalinas and other full-sized Pontiacs received a heavy facelifting of the '65 bodyshell with more rounded wasp-waisted body contours and fuller fastback rooflines, along with concealed windshield wipers - an industry first. Replacing the 389 and 421 V8s of previous years were new 400 and 428 cubic-inch V8s built off the same Pontiac V8 design in use since 1955. The standard Catalina engine was a two-barrel unit rated at convert|265|hp with three-speed manual transmission or convert|290|hp with Turbo Hydramatic. The convert|265|hp engine was available as a no-cost option with the Turbo Hydramatic and differed from the standard convert|290|hp unit by using regular gas as opposed to premium fuel. Optional engines included a four-barrel 400 rated at convert|325|hp, a four-barrel 428 rated at convert|360|hp or the four-barrel 428 HO rated at convert|376|hp. The Tri-Power engine options were dropped for 1967 thanks to a new GM corporate policy which prohibited the use of multiple carbs on all vehicles except the Chevrolet Corvette. Front disc brakes and stereo 8-track tape player were new additions to the option list.

The 2+2 was offered for the last time in 1967 in both hardtop coupe and convertible. The 360-horsepower 428 was standard and the 428 HO was optional. This model was dropped due to low sales since its 1964 introduction as performance car buyers overwhelmingly preferred smaller and lighter intermediates such as Pontiac's own GTO and the new Firebird ponycar, which was introduced for 1967.

For 1968, Catalinas and other full-sized Pontiacs received a minor facelifting of the '67 body with a new beak-nose split grille along with a reverting back to horizontal headlights, and revised taillights. Engine offerings were similar to 1967 with revised horsepower ratings including 340 for the four-barrel 400, 375 for the 428 four-barrel and 390 for the 428 HO.

1969-70

Infobox Automobile generation
name = Fifth generation
production = 1969-1970
assembly =
body_style = 2-door coupe
4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
engine = 350 CID V8
400 CID V8
428 CID V8
455 CID V8
transmission = 3-speed manual
2-speed Powerglide automatic
3-speed THM400 automatic
wheelbase = 122 in
length =
related =
The 1969 Pontiacs received a major restyling with somewhat more squared off sheetmetal (though not as much as similar cars from other GM divisions) and rooflines. However, the basic 1965 chassis, inner-body structure and four-door pillared sedan roofline were retained although vent windows were dropped on all models and Safari wagons got a new two-way tailgate that could be opened to the side like a door or downward like a tailgate. Catalinas also got a one-inch wheelbase increase to 122.

Variable-ratio power steering was a new option this year and front disc brakes were now automatically included when the power brake option was ordered.

Engine offerings consisted of a standard 290-horsepower 400 two-barrel (or no-cost optional regular-fuel 265-horsepower 400 with Turbo Hydramatic transmission), 330-horsepower 400 four-barrel, 370-horsepower 428 four-barrel or the 428 HO rated at 390 horses. The standard three-speed manual transmission and optional three-speed Turbo Hydramatic were continued as before, but the four-speed manual with Hurst shifter was dropped from the option list.

All full-sized Pontiacs, including Catalinas, received a new Grand Prix-like V-nose grille for 1970 along with 'horns ports' on a facelifted front end and new taillights mounted in the rear bumper. Catalina sedans and coupes now came standard with a smaller 255-horsepower 350 cubic-inch Pontiac V8 as standard equipment with optional engines including the previously-standard 400 two-barrel rated at 265 and 290 horsepower (still standard on convertibles and Safari wagons), a 330-horsepower 400 four-barrel and a two versions of the new 455 cubic-inch V8 rated at convert|360|hp or 370 horses with the "HO" option. As in past years, a three-speed manual transmission with column shift was standard equipment, but most cars were equipped with the optional three-speed Turbo Hydramatic. Also offered for 1970, but seldom ordered, was a two-speed automatic transmission (basically a Chevrolet Powerglide) that was available with the 350 V8.

1971-1976

Infobox Automobile generation
name = Sixth generation
production = 1971-1976
assembly =
body_style = 2-door coupe
4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
engine = 400 CID V8
455 CID V8
transmission = 3-speed THM400 automatic
wheelbase = 123 in
length =
related =
In 1971 the mid-level "Executive" and Ventura trim option for the Catalina were both discontinued and replaced with the "Catalina Brougham", which offered a more luxurious interior trim than the regular Catalina. The "Brougham" was dropped in 1973 after its sales failed to meet expectations. 1972 also marked the final appearance of the Catalina convertible.

For 1971, Catalina and other full-sized Pontiacs were completely redesigned and restyled from the wheels up with long hood/short deck proportions and fuselage styling somewhat similar to Chrysler Corporation's 1969 full-sized cars, along with a double shell roof for improved roll-over protection and flush pull-up exterior door handles - the latter two features first seen on the 1970 1/2 Firebird. Catalina and Catalina Brougham sedans and coupes rode on a convert|123|in|mm|sing=on wheelbase while Bonneville and Grand Ville used a longer convert|126|in|mm|sing=on wheelbase, and Safari wagons were an inch longer at 127' inches. Station wagons also got their own multi-leaf spring rear suspensions, while sedans and coupes continued to be suspended with front and rear coil springs.

New for 1971 was the "Catalina Brougham" series, which offered a plusher interior trim than the regular Catalina, available as a two-door hardtop, four-door hardtop and four-door pillared sedan. The "Brougham," while similar in concept to the Ventura Custom trim option offered on most Catalina models since 1962, replaced the old Executive series.

The Catalina Safari wagon became simply the "Pontiac Safari" for 1971 (though it continued to share interior and exterior trimmings with Catalina sedans and coupes) while the more luxurious Executive and Bonneville wagons were replaced by the new Grand Safari wagon. While the Grand Safari shared its grille design with the new Grand Ville series, its interior trim was identical to the optional vinyl interior offered on the Bonneville series. Pontiac now grouped its full-sized wagons as a separate series from their sedan counterparts, as did Chevrolet (Brookwood, Townsman, Kingswood, Kingswood Estate), Oldsmobile (Custom Cruiser), and Buick (Estate Wagon).

As did all GM B-Body wagons, the Safari and Grand Safari received GM's new clamshell tailgate. Operated by switches on the instrument panel or a key switch on the rear quarter panel, the tailgate slid into a recess under the cargo floor while the electric window slid upward into the rear roof section. Pontiac boasted the new system made it easier to load and unload the wagon in tight spaces, but the "Glide-Away" tailgate was prone to electrical and mechanical problems, and water and air leakage problems, as the cars aged.

Another trouble-prone feature Pontiacs shared with all GM B- and C-body cars for 1971 was a new power ventilation system. The system, also shared with the ill-fated Vega, used the heater fan to draw air into the car from the cowl intake, and force it out through vents in the trunk lid or tailgate. In theory, passengers could enjoy fresh air even when the car was moving slowly or stopped, as in heavy traffic. In practice, however, it didn't work.

Within weeks of the 1971 models' debut, however, Pontiac--and all other GM dealers--received multiple complaints from drivers who complained the ventilation system pulled cold air into the car before the heater could warm up--and could not be shut off. The ventilation system was extensively revised for 1972.

All models featured new Grand Prix-style wrap-around cockpit instrument panels that placed controls and instruments within easy reach of the driver along with two round pods for a speedometer and the other for warning lights, fuel gauge or optional gauges and electric clock. Interior trims were available in cloth and Morrokide vinyl or expanded Morrokide depending on model.

Standard engine in Catalina sedans and coupes was a 255-horsepower 350 V8 with two-barrel carburetor. Catalina Brougham models and Safari wagons came standard with a 400 cubic-inch V8 with two-barrel carburetor rated at 265 gross horsepower that was optional on other Catalina models. Optional engines included a 455 cubic-inch V8 with two- or four-barrel carburetion and respective horsepower ratings of 285 and 325, respectively. All Pontiac engines for 1971 were designed to run on lower-octane regular leaded, low lead or unleaded gasoline thanks to a GM corporate edict, necessitating reductions in compression ratios.

Power front disc brakes were made standard equipment for the first time in 1971. As in previous years, variable ratio power steering and Turbo Hydramatic transmission were extra-cost options but became standard equipment midway through the 1971 model run. Also available on early 1971 Catalinas with the 350 engine was a two-speed automatic transmission in addition to the standard column-shift three speed manual.

For 1972, Catalinas and other full-sized Pontiacs received new Grand Prix-style "V" nose grilles and sturdier front bumpers that could withstand crashes of up to 5 MPH, a year ahead of the Federal standard that took effect in 1973, along with revised taillight lenses.

The two-barrel 400 cubic-inch V8 was standard on all Catalina/Brougham/Safari models rated at 175 net horsepower compared to 265 gross horses in 1971 thanks to a switch in horsepower measurements from gross ratings which were measured by a dynometer with no accessories attached while the "net" figures were measured "as installed" in a vehicle with all accessories and emission gear hooked up. Optional engines included a two-barrel 455 rated at convert|185|hp and a four-barrel 455 rated at convert|250|hp. The year 1972 was the last for the Catalina convertible and the Catalina Brougham series.

Catalina and other 1973 full-sized Pontiacs featured more full-width spilt grilles along with the now-federally mandated 5 MPH front bumper, and revised taillight lenses. Instrument panels continued the "wrap-around" theme but the two round gauges were housed in square pods. With the Catalina Brougham discontinued only the regular Catalina models and Safari wagons were offered this year. Catalinas and other full-sized Pontiacs including Bonnevilles and Grand Villes now rode on a common convert|124|in|mm|sing=on wheelbaase for sedans and coupes though Safari and Grand Safari wagons continued on their own convert|127|in|mm|sing=on wheelbase.

Catalina sedans and coupes came standard with a 350 cubic-inch V8 rated at convert|150|hp with a 170-horsepower 400 two-barrel optional and standard on Safari wagons. Optional engines included a 230-horsepower 400 four-barrel and 250-horsepower 455 four-barrel V8.

A new Mercedes-like center split grille and revised rear styling with new 5 MPH bumpers on the aft end and license plate moved above the bumper highlighted the 1974 Catalina and other big Pontiacs. Two-door hardtop coupes featured new fixed triangular side windows, which eliminated true pillarless hardtop designs, while the four-door pillared and hardtop sedans were virtually unchanged from 1973. Interiors were much the same as 1973 except for a revised standard steering wheel and new cut-pile carpeting.

New to the option list were adjustable accelerator and brake pedals, a Pontiac exclusive (and seldom ordered), and a Radial Tuned Suspension that included the upgraded tires along with other suspension mods such as front and rear sway bars.

The 170-horsepower 400 V8 with two-barrel carburetor was now the standard engine on all models with a 225-horsepower 400 four-barrel and 250-horsepower 455 four-barrel V8 available as options. Also for 1974, the Safari wagon was renamed the "Catalina Safari" and continued to share interior and exterior trims with sedans and coupes.

The year 1975 brought revised front and rear styling to Catalinas and other full-sized Pontiacs, along with standard radial tires and electronic ignition. The same assortment of 400 and 455 engines carried over from 1974 with reduced horsepower ratings ranging from 170 to 200, but now mated to catalytic converters, which provided improved driveability and fuel economy over previous emission control equipment, but mandated the use of unleaded gasoline. Four-door pillared and hardtop sedans featured new six-window styling with the sixth window on the hardtop sedan functioning as an opera window. 1975 also marked the end of Pontiac convertible production until 1982; the Grand Ville Brougham was the last full-size Pontiac convertible.

For 1976, only minor detail changes were made to Catalinas and other full-sized Pontiacs that included revised grilles (with rectangular headlights now on Catalinas with the "Custom Trim Option-round headlights continued on base models) and taillight lenses. This year was the last for the 1971-vintage bodyshell, optional adjustable pedals, 455 V8 and the clamshell tailgate on Safari wagons. 1976 also marked the return of the Bonneville Brougham series to the top of the full-size line, as Pontiac marketers abandoned the Grand Ville name entirely.

1977-1981

Infobox Automobile generation
name = Seventh generation
production = 1977-1981
assembly =
body_style = 2-door coupe
4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
platform = B-body
engine = 231 CID Buick V6
265 CID Pontiac V8
301 CID Pontiac V8
350 CID Pontiac V8
400 CID Pontiac V8
transmission = 3-speed THM200 automatic
4-speed THM200-4R automatic
wheelbase = 116 in
length =
related =
similar =
In 1977, Pontiac and other GM divisions downsized their full-sized cars in an effort to lighten weight and improve gas mileage. The Catalina continued as Pontiac's entry-level full-size automobile with a Buick-built 231 cubic-inch V6 now standard in sedans and coupes (Safari wagons came standard with V8 power) and optional V8s of 301 CID, 350 CID and 400 CID displacements, each Pontiac-built engines and offered in all states except California. The Pontiac 350 was offered in 1977, but replaced by Buick and Olds 350 V8s from 1978 to 1980; and the Pontiac 400, offered through 1978, was replaced by an Oldsmobile 403 V8 in 1979 only. An Olds-built 350 Diesel V8 was optional for 1980 and 1981, along with another cut-down Pontiac V8 of 265 CID.

With the downsized 1977 model, the Catalina Safari got a new two-way tailgate that could be opened to the side as a door or lowered as a tailgate which replaced the more complicated 1971-76 clamshell tailgate design. The wagons also shared the same full-coil spring suspension as their sedan counterparts, rather than the multi-leaf springs found on 1971-76 Safaris.

As Pontiac V8s were completely blackballed from the State of California beginning in 1977 due to the inability to meet the Golden State's more stringent emission control standards, Catalinas (and Bonnevilles) sold in California were equipped with engines from other GM divisions through 1981. Those included the Buick 231 V6 and an assortment of V8s including the Chevrolet 305, Oldsmobile 307, Buick and Olds 350s, and Olds 403 V8.

The Catalina was discontinued after the 1981 model year along with the more luxurious Bonneville as Pontiac sought to abandon the full-sized car market as part of GM's continued downsizing program. The 1982 Bonneville was introduced as a mid-size car. When production of the Catalina nameplate ended in 1981, over 3.8 million Catalinas had been sold since 1959.

Laurentian (Canada and Canadian export only)

In the 1950s through 1970s GM of Canada designed a unique hierarchy of "full size" Pontiac "series" or trim lines dissimilar to the American Catalina, Star Chief, Executive and Bonneville series offered by GM's Pontiac Motor Division in the US. Closely paralleling Chevrolet's Biscayne, Bel Air and Impala series, by 1959 the Canadian models were nomenclatured Strato Chief, Laurentian and Parisienne. When Chevrolet introduced the "Super Sport" as a distinct model line in 1962, GM of Canada soon made available a similarly equipped Pontiac "Custom Sport" (in 1967 rebadged Pontiac "2+2" to mirror a name used by Pontiac in the US for a sporty model based on its Catalina series.) And when Chevrolet rolled out its topline "Impala Caprice" model in mid-1965 to compete with Ford's newly introduced upscale Ford "LTD" model, GM of Canada introduced the "Grand Parisienne" trim series for the 1966 model year.

Like all Canadian Pontiacs built from 1955 to 1970, Laurentians used full-size Chevrolet chassis, drive trains, and other parts, but using a body shell similar in style to, but not interechangeable with, the U.S. Catalina. For example, a 1964 Pontiac Laurentian looks like a Catalina, but has more in common with the Chevrolet Bel Air. Through at least 1967, however, the Laurentian wore the three "stars" normally associated with the Pontiac Star Chief/Executive series, even though other exterior trim pieces were similar to the Catalina.

The Laurentian was available in all the body styles used for the Chevrolet Bel Air, including hardtop coupes and sedans, through the 1962 model run. After 1963, hardtops were offered only in the Parisienne and Grande Parisienne series, which paralleled the Chevrolet Impala and Caprice respectively. However, two-door hardtops returned to the Strato-Chief and Laurentian series in 1969 because Pontiac discontinued its Catalina 2-door sedan in the U.S. after the 1968 model run.

The Canadian model line nameplates were never sold in the U. S. They were built for the Canadian market and for export from Canada as disassembled "crate" or "kit" cars. Although the Parisienne became an American Pontiac offering beginning in mid-1983 to 1986, by this time the U.S. and Canadians were idential offerings.

A number were assembled from CKD kits by GM Holden in Australia and more - SKD assembly this time - in neighbouring New Zealand. As well, these kits were assembled at GM plants in the Netherlands and South Africa. Canadian Pontiacs were used in part because, as a fellow Commonwealth country, there were advantages with import duties. But largely due first to the economies of part sourcing two separate GM lines from the same parts bin. Second, with higher gasoline prices and lower discretionary spending than in the US, Canadian Pontiacs like Chevrolets were more affordable, hence more marketable overseas. Thirdly, without the bulk and weight of American Pontiacs, their Canadian counterparts were better adapted where space can be limited, as in Europe and in a British LHD environment where an overly large full-size car has overly large disadvantages.

These RHD cars had the same dashboards whether Chevrolet (Impalas and Bel Airs also made it to Australia; NZ took just Impalas) or Pontiac and only one dash design per bodyshell run so the 62-64 models had the one dash even though it changed annually in Canada and the 65-68s all had a 'transposed' version of the '65 Chevrolet dash. The RHD cars also had antiquated, short, 'clap-hands' wipers that almost met in the middle of the windshield rather than the parallel wipers of the LHD Canadian cars. Local radios, upholstery and two-speed heater/demisters were fitted - some Australian cars had local Frigidaire air conditioning.

External links

* [http://www.musclecarclub.com/musclecars/pontiac-catalina/pontiac-catalina-history.shtml Muscle Car Club Catalina gallery]
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Footnotes


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