Which is the best Pontiac?
Pontiac was once the creator of some of America's most outstanding performance vehicles, including a vast array of muscle cars, pony cars, and personal luxury vehicles. These automobiles have scattered posters on the walls of automotive enthusiasts everywhere since the debut of cars like the GTO. However, this original muscle car was not always such a muscle car. Instead, it started with one of Pontiac's premium luxury cars, which initially made the brand famous. So, since these high-class comfort cruisers were the forefathers of the muscle car movement, how does their performance compare to something made long after those initial American performance cars?
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In this race, we will find the answer to that question as a 1961 Pontiac Catalina takes the stage for an ultimate showdown. First, we must admit that this giant V8-powered beast is not strictly stock under the hood. Rather than a 389, this vehicle held a 421 ci Super-Duty V8 engine, which was the top of the line in engine performance later in 1961. This is all well and good, but no opponent would be worth it without an engine just as powerful and desired. Luckily, that's precisely what is waiting for the vintage Pontiac at the starting line of a drag strip.
As the '61 Catalina pulled up to the line, it was met by a vicious 1973 Pontiac Firebird Formula with a massive surprise under the hood. Fighting the previously mentioned Super Duty is a newer 455 ci Super Duty V8 engine with an insane output of around 290 horsepower with a tiny bit of tuning. As the Christmas tree lit from yellow to green, these cars hit the throttle hard, with the Firebird taking the lead. Catalina appeared to catch up throughout the run, but the Formula still took the win with a 12.8 second-quarter mile time instead of Catalina's 13.3. The second round saw an increase in speed for the Firebird with 12.7 seconds as the older Pontiac slowed down to 13.4. It may seem surprising to those who know the performance standards of the two engines, but this race is a perfect example of how sound engineering can overcome differences in power.