The early Pontiac Tempest models were very interesting cars. At that time, in the early 1960s, General (Government) Motors was trying some new concepts at that time and the Pontiac Tempest was one of those innovative designs. At that time GM was introducing some smaller size cars, but GM had not settled on the design characteristics.
The 1962 Pontiac Tempest
The 1962 Pontiac Tempest had a monocoque design which is also often referred to as a unibody design. The car also had a unique rear transaxle. Therefore the front engine and the rear transaxle required a long, gently curving small bar within a steel case joining the engine with the transmission. I think that the best analogy for this arrangement is that the flexible drive worked much like a speedometer cable.
This 1962 Pontiac Tempest Was the LeMans Model
One of the interesting things with this car was the 195 cubic inch four-cylinder engine. At first this does not sound particularly interesting, but actually the engine is one-half of the 389 cubic inch V8 engine that was used in the full-sized Pontiac cars at the time.
In the 1962 Pontiac Tempest the 195 cubic inch 4-cylinder engine came in five power levels. There was a low compression, single-barrel carburetor version that 110 horsepower and the 4 cyclinder engines went up to a high-compression four-barrel carburetor version that produced 166 horsepower. The following advertisement shows the engine and transmission availability for the 1962 Pontiac Tempest.
Advertisement For The 1962 Pontiac Tempest
This advertisement is also interesting as it provides real information about the car. Today’s car advertisments provide far less hard information about the automobiles.
From This View The 195 Cubic Inch Four-Cylinder Pontiac Engine Looks Like a V8 Engine
From This View It Can Be Seen That Their Are No Cylinders On This Side Of The Engine
My take away on the 1962 Pontiac Tempest is: why did the Pontiac GTO not come along until 1964 or 1965? Much has been written about how the smart guys at Pontiac started the whole “muscle” car era in North American car design by putting the 389 cubic inch engine first as an option in the 1964 Pontiac Tempest thereby leading to the creation of the great Pontiac GTO car. Wait a minute! They were mechanically doing this in 1962! The real story is why did it take them so long to quit cutting the 389 inch in half? One could take a critical review of this situation and think not about how clever the Pontiac guys were in 1964, but rather how myopic they were in 1962 (actually 1961 when the Tempest first appeared) when they were cutting the 389 in half in the Tempest. It seems to me that putting the whole 389 cubic inch engine along with a Pontiac transmission and rear axle, would have been both cheaper and faster than cutting the 389 cubic inch engine in half and then coming up with a special transaxle for the rear axle.
While this post has focused on the 195 cubic inch four-cylinder engine, the 1962 Pontiac Tempest could also be supplied with the 215 cubic inch aluminum block V8 engine that produced 190 horsepower. This is the same V8 engine that eventually was sold to Rover and was also installed in such cars as the Triumph TR8 and the MGB, although with lower horsepower than the 190 horsepower that this engine produced in the 1962 Pontiac Tempest.
The 1962 Pontiac Tempest had 4-wheel independent suspension which would have the potential to make this a very good handling car.
The 1962 Pontiac Tempest Had Four-Wheel Independent Suspension
The car shown in these photos was a LeMans model which is the top of the line model. The trim level inside quite nice. The picture below shows that this car had a three-speed floor-mounted shifter which then would have had very long shifter linkage leading back to the transmission that was part of the rear transaxle. This car also had the optional air conditioning as shown by the central control unit mounted under the dash.
As the transmission was co-located with the back axle and there was a small “drive line”, there is a very small “hump” in this rear wheel drive car.
The 1962 Pontiac Tempest Had a Very Tasteful Interior
As much as I like the interior of the 1962 Pontiac Tempest I do find the location of the electric clock in a separate pod located on the otherwise clean flat dash to look a little out-of-place. I don’t know if the electric clock would have been an option in 1962, but in my opinion, a wrist watch would be better than the addition of this electric clock on the dash.
The Electric Clock Located on the Separate Pod On The Dash Looks Like An After Thought
In summary, the 1962 Pontiac Tempest is a very interesting and innovative car. Many of the innovations in the 1962 Pontiac Tempest were not further developed by GM at that time and by 1964 the design basics of the Pontiac Tempest were inline with most of the other GM product line.