Recognise this Pontiac? NASA used it as a towing vehicle

Feb 27, 2019 2 min read
Recognise this Pontiac? NASA used it as a towing vehicle

The Pontiac Catalina doesn't have legendary status, but there's no reason why it shouldn't

You can’t put a price on a trophy, at least until you’re trying to sell it, and this 1963 Pontiac Catalina is no different.

The second generation vehicle contains a 389ci V8 engine otherwise known as the ‘Trophy’, packed into a car that is full of… right angles. It’s a design that is actually carried off very well, but is hard to describe in any more poetic language.


Poetry doesn’t always coexist with practicality, and the Catalina was definitely more of the latter. In fact, a convertible model just like the one in the Motorious classifieds was used as the towing vehicle for the NASA M2-F1 programme. The odd sounding object was in fact a wingless, unpowered prototype aircraft, otherwise known as ‘The Flying Bathtub’. The next time you go to your local dealership, ask if they have any vehicles that have worked as NASA tow vehicles — we're guessing none.


Other things to note about this Catalina is that it’s a matching numbers model, has a new convertible top in the back, a period-correct three-speed Roto hydromatic automatic transmission, and comes with all of the original owner’s manuals, Pontiac Ident-O-Plate, copies of PHS documents, manufacturer’s manifest and its original Ohio title.

Although the Catalina was not an all-out bestseller in period, and certainly not a name that immediately springs to mind when talking about the most prolific machines to utilise an American V8, but its concept and reasonable price led to other brands responding with similar machines, suggesting this car had a lot of under the radar kudos at the time.

There’s no price listed on the Motorious ad, but you can call the seller for for more information, or to make an offer..

Pontiac went on to make three more generations of the Catalina, and very briefly had a racing programme to support them, but that’s another story entirely...

1963 Pontiac Catalina
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