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1960 Pontiac Catalina (Poncho)
Last updated Jun 12, 2007
With a suggestion of "Grumpy" I purchased Howard Ramsay's old '60 Pontiac when he got the lighter '61. Seen here at Cecil County MD in 1962 running in A/S tuned by Jenkins Competition - Berwyn, PA.
Ramsay won several races against the "Old Reliable" Chevy of Strickler-Jenkins, Royal Oak Pontiac's "Tin Indian's" and Durhman's "Strip Blazer" Chevy. Set the NHRA Div. #1 ET record in 1960 beating Tasca Ford's old record by .021.
I sold the Pontiac and purchased a 1964 Dodge Coronet 2 dr. (really wanted to return to Mopar) this car ran in B/SA & C/SA (thinking it would be an easier class).
Ace Wilson Royal Pontiac, based in Royal Oak Michigan, carried the performance banner for Pontiac. It all began with Pontiac adman Jim Wangers, proposed the idea of dealer-supported performance programs. Pontiac management would allow only one dealer to be a guinea pig to start with, Royal Pontiac was chosen because of convienence. In a short time frame additional dealers received the same options as Royal Oak. With factory support, Royal Pontiac and several other dealers sucessfully campaigned 1959 Catalinas in AHRA / NHRA drag racing series and then triumphed on Super Duty Monday, Labor Day in 1960, when several Super Duty Pontiacs won three major competition events in three different locations. Sales of performance cars and parts escalated from there.
The Super Duty 'SD' 389 cubic-inch engine raised the performance to over 360 horsepower. With a Borg Warner four-speed manual gearbox, the Pontiac Catalina was a serious machine. Depending on the configuration the Catalina was capable of going from zero-to-sixty in around eight seconds with the quarter-mile run accomplished in just over 14 seconds.
The factory race car version was (light weight) 389" with factory solid lifter cam, performance heads and intake w/3 carbs., higher compression, rate at 370 hp.
Stamped on the title "NOT FOR STREET USE", didn't even have wiper motors - just blades and arms attached to a wooden dowel? Used the close ratio 4 speed and 4.56 gears.
This car was a SS/A car in 1960 and moved down one class to A/S with 1961 Pontiac being 500 lb. lighter.
It was the philosophy that set Pontiac apart from the mainstream of dealers in 1960 who weren't versed in the performance market or were apprehensive about the profitability of racing, building and selling special high-performance cars. But racing was just part of the Pontiac story.
"One of the first things done was to package a car that incorporated some of the special services and the special parts that he was putting into these cars. "The GM Division decided to create a race car in 1960 off of a Pontiac Catalina.
A packaged performance car, utilizing many of the performance options offered by Pontiac. Starting with the 389 Tri-Power, they used the factory's free-flowing exhaust manifolds and dual exhausts, aluminum wheels with the integral drums, four-speed manual gearbox and limited-slip rear. Then they made special modifications to the car to make it a racer. The vacuum carburetor linkage was scrapped for a mechanical setup, and less restrictive mufflers were installed. They reworked camshafts and timing, the distributors were recurved, thin head gaskets were installed to boost compression, the carburetors were rejetted for car location and the lifters were restricted by installing special fiber lock nuts that reduced lifter pump-up and allowed another 500 rpm.
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