PONTIAC FLASHBACK: TEMPEST MONTE CARLO!

Built on a shortened ’62 Pontiac Tempest convertible, the Monte Carlo was a hit at auto shows and major road racing events. It shared the spotlight with GM design chief, William Mitchell’s Corvair Sebring Spyder show car.

PONTIAC FLASHBACK: TEMPEST MONTE CARLO!PONTIAC FLASHBACK: TEMPEST MONTE CARLO!One thing was a given at GM in the 1960s: Chevy’s Corvette was a sacred cow and no other division could bring a two-seat sports car to market. The only way Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile or Cadillac could reveal branded two-seat, high-performance sporty vehicles was to have Mitchell’s GM Design create Concepts that became part of GM’s traveling auto show displays.

Pontiac’s Tempest Monte Carlo, powered by a supercharged 195 cubic-inch Four rated at 250-300 horsepower, featured 15-inch- shortened unibody architecture with four-wheel independent suspension. With a wheelbase of 97 inches and overall length of 175 inches, it had a five-inch-shorter wheelbase and was almost two inches shorter overall than a ’62 Corvette!

Pontiac already had a relationship with Mickey Thompson, having supplied him with four and eight cylinder engines for some of his high profile, multiple-engine Bonneville and drag racing cars. Thompson came up with a supercharger package for the Tempest Four, incorporating a modified GMC 3-71 Roots-type blower driven by a two-inch-wide ribbed Gilmer belt and a manifold with a huge built-in pop-off valve. An offset adapter allowed for installing a Carter four-barrel. As with most GM show cars, the Monte Carlo’s engine received abundant chrome and polished aluminum accessories.

PONTIAC FLASHBACK: TEMPEST MONTE CARLO!A 15-inch section was removed from a four-passenger Tempest, converting it into a sporty two-seater. The Tempest’s four-wheel-independent suspension was retained, though the controversial flexy shaft between the engine and the rear-mounted, Corvair-based four-speed was shortened considerably, making the drivetrain more efficient.

PONTIAC FLASHBACK: TEMPEST MONTE CARLO!Since Pontiac’s plan included showing the Monte Carlo at major sports car races, it was treated to a full complement of gauges, racing mirrors, dual thin blue racing stripes, tri-spoke steering wheel, hood louvers and Firestone Super Sport tires mounted on polished Halibrand knock-offs.

PONTIAC FLASHBACK: TEMPEST MONTE CARLO!Wholly impractical but responsible for drawing a crowd wherever the Monte Carlo was displayed, the severely chopped wraparound plexiglass windscreen looked as though it had come off a full-tilt racecar. It offered absolutely no protection, but tied in nicely with the slick fiberglass tonneau cover with headrest fairings.

PONTIAC FLASHBACK: TEMPEST MONTE CARLO!Finished in White Pearl, the Monte Carlo was also shown with knock-off wire wheels with Goodyear Blue Streak tires in place of the Halibrand-Firestone combo. Unlike most Concept/Show cars, the Monte Carlo was not crushed after it was retired. It was gifted to Ed Cole, Vice-President and head of GM’s Car & Truck Group. Before taking delivery he had the Monte Carlo re-powered with a stock 215-inch aluminum V8. The windscreen was replaced with a production Tempest windshield, and they also added a small convertible top. The net result was a somewhat awkward looking, short-wheelbase Tempest with an oversize top. The Tempest survived and is currently in a private collection. But Mitchell’s original Monte Carlo styling did not!

PONTIAC FLASHBACK: TEMPEST MONTE CARLO!

Pontiac’s Monte Carlo was featured in DAY ONE, An Automotive Journalist’s Muscle Car Memoir that covers vehicles built in 1962 to 1974. It’s available at https://www.amazon.com/Day-One-Automotive-Journalists-Muscle-Car/dp/0760352364/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1493561421&sr=1-1&keywords=Day+One+by+Martyn+L.+Schorr

 

 

 

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