The 1962 Pontiac Tempest: A Car With Half Of An Engine

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.

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98 Responses to The 1962 Pontiac Tempest: A Car With Half Of An Engine

  1. D J Sylvester says:

    I had a ’62. But not the LeMans. It had the half a V8 engine, which ran pretty rough even right after it was overhauled. The rope drive, along with a floor pan, which was structural, that rusted out, eventually caused enough vibration/flex in the drive tunnel, that it broke too. Eventually it was held together with baling wire, literally, and a big aluminum sign that was screwed onto the foot area of the front seat, to keep us from putting our feet through, and to keep us mostly dry in wet weather. 🙂 Mine was a 4 door, and had the automatic transaxle.

    • I’ll put you down as someone who would not buy another Tempest. You must have got one of those Friday-built cars.

      Too bad that you had such a bad experience with the car. I hope that you have had better luck with cars since then.

      Steve

      • Richard says:

        Steve I am looking for a 150 n flywheel flexplate for my front engine dragster do you have or do you know of one that’s available

      • Hi Richard,
        I don’t know where to get one of these, but perhaps someone else who reads this will be able to help you.

        Steve McKelvie

  2. Steve,
    I was at a car show in PA a few months back and came across an all original, unmolested 1962 Pontiac Tempest LeMans a guy was selling. It has the 195 ci 4 cyl engine with a three speed manual transmission. As a bonus, I found out later that it has the optional 166 hp high compression engine with a four barrel carburetor. With only 39,400 original miles and a black exterior on red interior… man, I couldn’t pass it up… I had to buy it. I really thought that the trans-axle setup was unique and with the independent suspension the ride would be pretty smooth. I’m looking forward to restoring the car and getting it back on the road… thanks for the article, I really enjoyed the photos of the car you used, I hope mine turns out close!

    • Hi Miguel,
      It sounds like you have got yourself a great car. With the low mileage that your car has, hopefully any restoration will not be too difficult or expensive.

      Keep me informed of your progress!

      Regards,
      Steve

  3. George says:

    I owned a black with red interior 1962 Tempest coupe — three on the floor (unsychronized in first gear), with probably one of the lower-powered engines. It was my first car, so of course I really loved it, but it had many great features. It looked great, and when you backed it down in second gear, it would put out a whine that some other drivers interpreted as a siren. The rear swing axle was not well-designed. The car was dangerous on any kind of slippery surface. But I would love to have one again.

    • Greg Clark says:

      The 1962 Pontiac Tempest is a very interesting and innovative car with a front engine and rear trans-axle connected by a torque tube with 4 wheel independent suspension. This afforded a nearly 50/50 weight distribution. New Corvettes now use this configuration but with a V-8 engine.
      There was no room in the instrument cluster for a clock so they mounted it on the dash. It looks cool when it’s lit up at night. It is a very desirable option for 61-62 Tempest owners. I have owned the Tempest pictured here for nearly 23 years and it has always been very reliable.

      • Hi Greg,
        I enjoyed seeing your car and I recall having a few words with you that day. I think that these are very interesting cars. As you point out there is lots of interesting engineering with these cars.
        If you read my stuff long enough, you will see that, in general, I like simple designs and clean lines when it comes to cars. With the Tempest, I saw this large, simple and clean dash with a single clock on a pedestal that interupted those lines. Cars are like women, everyone has their own preference. I don’t design cars (or women either), but I would have moved the clock much closer to the instrument cluster, in order keep most of dash as clean as possible.
        Perhaps I’ll see you at a car show sometime during the next summer.

        Good to hear from you!

        Regards,
        Steve McKelvie

    • TIM HAGERTY says:

      I HAVE ONE I AM SELLING .,, IT IS RED INSIDE AND OUT ,IT IS A 1962

  4. Don Helfenstein says:

    Hi Steve,
    There are many reasons Tempest started with a four and a Buick sourced 215 Aluminum V-8, but first let me say Pontiac had been working on the transaxle in the rear for quite a few years. As early as 1957. The engine in the front and the transaxle in rear was one of John DeLorean’s first projects when he became director of advanced engineering of Pontiac in the 2nd half of 1956. Before the thought of a compact car ever occurred Pontiac wanted to use this concept in all it’s cars.
    Back to Tempest, Buick, Olds, Pontiac wanted to get into the compact car game and from Pontiac’s point of view compacts or economy cars don’t have big engines. In 1961-62 less than 6% of Tempest made had the Buick V-8 and Pontiac never promoted it. In fact the 4cylinder 4BBL made the same horsepower as the Buick V-8. In 1963 Pontiac re-cored all it’s engines and cast a new size of the 389-421 using the 389’s crank and a small 3.78 bore to create a 336 as a optional engine along side of the 194 four, even though the engine is badged a 326. Now Pontiac would have a REAL Pontiac V-8 engine for the Tempest. In 1963 model year Pontiac released 12, six coupes, six wagons for competition with 421’s and a modified semi four speed automatic for racing. Ten or eleven went to Pontiac drag racers and a least one went to Ray Nichols Engineering for NASCAR which won the 250 mile Daytona Challenge cup beating Ferrari, Porsche, Corvette. In fact Paul Goldsmith in the Tempest beat the second place car, AJ Foyt’s Corvette by FIVE miles!
    In late January 1963 GM 14th floor Corporate pulled the plug on Chevrolet and Pontiac with the anti racing edict. From 1957 to the beginning of 1963 Pontiac was the car to beat in NASCAR and at the drag strip. This performance record helped propel Pontiac from 5-7 places in sales to # 3 in sales. Suddenly Pontiac found itself without a stage to promote itself.
    In 1964 the new GM intermediate were to come out. 14th floor corporate had place a cubic inch limit of 330″. Pontiac was already over on the Tempest V-8, so Pontiac engineering decreased the bore on the Tempest V-8 to 3.72″ creating a true 326.
    The reason the GTO came out , was in order to remain #3 in sales with a performance image and your not allowed to race, was to take the performance off the track and put it on the street. 1964-1965 GTO’s are a option on a LeMans. The reason they are a option is because you didn’t need 14th floor approval for options….and by the way one of the GTO’s options just happens to be the 389 engine. The corporation hated it, but since it was snuck out they didn’t want to loose face. After 32,450 were made the Corporation couldn’t ignore a profit so they told Chevy, Olds, Buick to make one of their own.

    • Hi Don,
      Thanks for all of that information about Pontiac in that era! You certainly have a thorough understanding of what was going on at that time. I was especially intrigued about the Tempest’s racing record.

      Again thanks very much,
      Steve McKelvie

      • Don Helfenstein says:

        Your welcome Steve,
        Something I also wanted to add. That modified semi-automatic was a transaxle in the rear too. The cars had a hydraulic operated mechanical clutch out the rear just like other Tempest three and four speeds had, but the rest of the trans was a four speed planetary gear automatic. Another thing to note was Pontiac was the first division to promote outside names to their product, which out until 1961 was against corporate policy. Pontiac was the first to get approval to use the Hurst name and use Hurst products in production vehicles and for the name like Hurst to be shown . It’s very interesting to note that if people like Bunkie Knudsen, Pete Estes, John Delorean had not been at Pontiac that many things would have never happened like Wide Track, Eight lug wheels with aluminum drums, a car with a engine in front and a transaxle in the rear, making the largest four cylinder engine out of a V-8 and because of this to be able to assemble it and it’s components which it shared with the V-8 on the same line as the V-8. Building a muscle cars out of desperation to hold on to sales, building a overhead cam six with a revolutionary fiberglass reinforced timing belt, hood mounted tachometers, split grille, and coke bottle styling, stacked headlights done like nobody else. Those were the golden years for Pontiac. I should also mention Pontiac had a great advertising agency to get the information to the street. The person in charge of all that enthusiasm promoting Pontiac was Jim Wangers. From Wide Track, to GTO, and all the advertising adds from Tom McCann shoes, to tigers going into engine compartments and guys taking a crowbar to another Pontiac first The endura bumper- Jim promoted it. Jim also handled the press fleet, and I can tell you having dealt with that sort of thing myself having the right cars go to the press is all important. You can have all the product in the world in your quiver of cars, but if you can’t communicate that to a customer you won’t sell a thing. Jim knew how to open up Pontiac for the public mind to see what it offered.

        Olds in particular because of the Hurst Olds connection, but all muscle cars in general owe their existence to the people at Pontiac for breaking the doors down and bringing something different for public offering, which could have been at the expense of their careers especially in the case of Pete Estes and the GTO.

      • Hi Don,
        Given that history associated with the Pontiac brand, it is a shame that it might be lost with the demise of the Pontiac brand. I was first impressed with Pontiac engineering by the performance of a Firebird Sprint with the overhead cam inline 6 that was own by a local fellow in my home town when I was a teenager.

        Again, thanks for the great information!

        Regards,
        Steve McKelvie

  5. John Guili says:

    Hello Don,

    I just found your article on the 1962 Tempest and it brought back a flood of memories. My father purchased this car new and it was the same color and a two door as the one in your article. It had an automatic transmission and from the Pontiac literature inset in your article I assume it was the 115 engine.
    I was 16 years old in 1962 and my father let me use the “family” car for special date occasions. You see my car was a 1950 Studebaker Champion Bullet Nose with a 96 HP flat head six engine. It wasn’t exactly a chick magnet. However, I did love that car. Sorry, I digressed. Back to the 62 Tempest and an anecdotal story. On one of those date nights we would gp parking in a farm field for some privacy. Well the next day my father asked the usual questions: What did you do? Where did you go? Did you have fun? but the kicker was What were you doing in a pasture? You see with the converter in the rear of the car as it turned the tall grass became wrapped around it and created a bit of an imbalance which my father noticed the next day. He was a mechanic and put the car on his lift and there was the “wad” of grass tangled around the converter. BUSTED!!.
    Thanks for the memories.

    John Guili

  6. Erick Miller says:

    Steve,

    My uncle (and legal guardian at the time) had one of these when I was a kid in Spokane, Wa. His was a baby blue with the same color interior and had a four-speed trans, and the 166 horse four barrel carb 195. The car did not have A/C or the clock on the dash. It did have 15″ wheels though, which was uncommon for a ‘pony car’ of that era.

    He bought the car in 65′ and sold it in 1978. During that 13 year tenure of ownership, both my brother and I learned how to drive a stick in that car. We moved to San Diego and he had the car painted Navy blue. He also removed the four barrel and replaced it with a one-barrel setup, a decision he always regretted later.

    I remember that he had a lot of trouble with the pilot shaft bearing wearing the input shaft prematurely and he had to change the input shaft every few years, which he dreaded. I am not certain who bought the car but it was sold in Poway, Ca and we never saw it again. These pics bring back a lot of memories. Thanks for sharing the article!

    Erick Miller

    • Paul Peterson says:

      My first of two 61 Tempest wagons was a 3-speed. I had the same problem with the input shaft wearing out. My mom and dad gave me a new part as my Christmas present in 1967. LOL.

  7. Kristine Kavanagh says:

    We own one of these wonderful gems. Picked it up in Kentucky in 2004 and have never even had it on the road. It’s one of our future restoration projects (hopefully now within the next two years). I really want to leave the slant 4 cylinder in it but I am getting some flack from my other half and his resto guy. 🙂

    • John Guili says:

      Kristine,
      If you are going to restore the 62 to stock, by all means keep the slant 4. If your “other half” decides to put a different engine into the 62 how will it be set up with the drive train since the torque converter is in the rear? Could this cause an imbalance for the new engine?

      I am a sentimentalist and getting more so as I am getting older. I have a rebuild project under way right now and I am trying to keep it as stock and original as possible. This is not an easy task today unless the rebuild is a very popular model, 60’s Mustang, 60’s Camaro. 56/57 Chevy etc. I chose a 1957 Jeep CF-170 and these were rare then let alone trying to find parts now.

      See if you can talk him into the slant 4 and keeping the 62 as original as possible. Send a photo if you can.

      John Guili

      • Hi Kristine,
        John had some good advice. If you want to send a photo of the car, then send it to my private email address:
        shanna12 at comcast dot net

        I can then forward it on to John Guili. In addition, I would be interested in seeing the photo as well.

        Regards,
        Steve McKelvie

  8. Jesse James says:

    We had a 61. I was 11 and my when my mom went out on Friday and Saturday nights square dancing with her friends she’d get picked up and I’d find the car keys when she didn’t take them and slip out into the night with a couple of MY friends to practice the fine art of motoring around. Our car had the auto transmission with a selector in the dash that you just pulled up or down. Quite trendy for the time. I got quite a deserved beating from my mom for pulling off the hub caps and spraying the rims silver. I thought it made the car look meaner but it just made her meaner.

  9. Dave Duquette says:

    I picked up a 1962 model that is not a Lemans, 93.000 miles and in really decent original shape, All chrome, hub caps even the spare tire. It’s an automatic. Fires right up and runs good. I want to sell it as I have too many irons in the fire, really cool car. Any Ideas on where to sell it?

  10. David Dennis says:

    1962 PONTIAC TEMPEST COUPE W/RARE LEMANS PKG, A RESTORED DRIVER NEW PAINT GOLD W/MINT TAN INTERIOR, REBUILT PONTIAC 195 4 CYLINDER MOTOR, TURN-KEY DRIVER GREAT FOR LOCAL CRUISES OR GO!

    This is a sweet little 1962 Pontiac Tempest Coupe w/rare LeMans option pkg. This particular 1962 Pontiac has been restored to use and enjoy. It can be driven with confidence to local cruises and is restored to use as my daily driver on fair weather days. It is a legendary 4 passenger classic car with a sexy unique look that stands apart from the crowd. This is a very cool classic Coupe. FYI; the cool history is as follows the car was driven by its woman owner in Boston until 1970, her husband was 90 and could not drive and so it was parked in a garage for 39 years until it was rediscovered by someone doing maintenance on the home it was at, a loving mature owner who breathed life into again. He had painfully decided that it was time to pass the torch on his beloved 1962 Pontiac to another enthusiast, me, who would have more time to use and enjoy it.

    The Details;

    The Body was recently resprayed in base/clear coat in its original factory Gold color and was finished as a “daily driver” paint job. The car has no rust issues. The hood, trunk lid, door and panel fit is all up to standard. It has replacement rust free front fenders which the previous owner purchased directly from LA. It has original Pontiac Hubcaps that compliment the stock exterior. The chrome, trim, emblems and glass remain in good condition. The factory tan interior is like a time warp and is in excellent original condition with only new carpets installed, new mats & seat belts. It has an optional deluxe steering wheel, day/night mirror option, 2 spd transmission, Wipers w/washer, trunk courtesy light, new trunk mat, working heater and more. Under the hood is the very cool 4 cylinder rebuilt w/valve job, Pontiac engine that will astound muscle car enthusiasts. The frame, floors, trunk are solid and a pleasure to see in this condition. The engine compartment is very nice for local shows and events. This Pontiac has always been garaged and was never driven in inclement weather conditions in decades.

    The Mechanics;

    The heart of this 62′ Pontiac is its rebuilt Pontiac 195 Four Cylinder engine that had a valve job, new fuel pump, new fuel lines, water pump, alternator, all new brakes, nos wheel cylinders, new radial tires, wiper blades, new parking brake cables, the trans axel is from a very low 44k original mile car w/3:08 gears, new shocks, new upper ball joints and it runs awesome with lots of power. This car has been mechanically gone thru, well sorted and is an excellent running and driving car.

    The Options 1962 Pontiac Tempest w/ Rare LeMans Option Package;

    Rebuilt Pontiac 195 Four Cylinder Engine

    Deluxe Steering Wheel

    Day Night Mirror

    AM-FM CD Stereo

    Base/Clear New Daily Driver Paint

    2 Speed Wipers w/Washer

    Time warp Mint Original Tan Interior

    Detail in the engine compartment

    Trunk Courtesy Light w/New Trunk Mat

    Original Hubcaps w/Radial tires and so much more!

    Overall;

    This 1962 Pontiac Tempest Lemans Coupe is a cool classic car that was meant to be driven and will be used and enjoyed. It is a car that I will take pride in owning and take excellent care of. Thank you for your sincere interest.

  11. ron horvarh says:

    In early 1962 I bought a Tempest Lemans convert. 4 cylinder,4 speed, 4bbl. carb. and 3:90 gears. This car was a hoot..was able to trounce most V8 between stop lights..the V8’s only took over above 90 MPH on the open road, due to their extra HP. !

  12. Hello, My 67 year old neighbor is known as the “Pontiac guy” in our neighbor hood. He has built a few street rods with 389’s, 428’s, and 455’s, but is building another and wants to build something different. We were talking and he has a 4 cylinder from a 1963 Pontiac Tempest which he wants to put in a street rod. He is looking for a way to hook up his Pontiac Turbo 350 transmission to the 195 Cubic Inch motor. He is pretty sure that 4 bolts line up on the engine block to transmission, but is unsure which flex plate to use. I counted 150 teeth on manual transmission flywheel. If possible he would like to the stock started, which mounts from the front. He is also open to using a standard Pontiac V8 flexplate, with the started mounted in another spot. Does anybody make a kit to do this?

    Do you have any info you can help him out? I know he would greatly appreciate it.

    He does not have a computer……so I am trying to help him out.

    Thanks in advance and talk to you soon!!

    You can E-mail me at FORDTRKNUT°°°@aol.com (Just delete the three “degree” symbols to E-mail me)

  13. Ron Maty says:

    Great article and comments. It’s great to see so many comments and replies with no negativity from anyone.

    In response to Wayne Grabley: I believe the 4 cylinder engine has the same bolt pattern as other non-Chevy GM engines, so a 350 trans from a non-Chevy should bolt on. I don’t know about flex plates, etc.

    My new in-laws bought my wife and me a 1962 4 door Tempest, pretty much bare bones sedan when we got married in 1968. We drove it for two years in college and had to have the engine rebuilt–bored, new pistons, replaced cylinder head (with a V-8 part). The guy felt sorry for us and only charged me $250. Even back in 1969 that was pretty cheap. We then drove it to West Palm Beach, FL, where I traded it in on a 1970 Trans Am. Talk about culture shock!!!! I later had a 1963 coupe that I never really got running. I also later had a ’74 Vega that I put a ’62 Olds 215 V-8 into, but that’s a different story!

    You may not realize it, but the Tempest transaxle/rear suspension assembly design is really taken from the same-year Corvair, with the transmission modified so the engine input comes in from the front instead of the rear! That’s why the torque converter is hanging out there in space–that is where it would connect to the Corvair flat-six engine. The 1961 and 1962 cars had swing axles with U-joints only at the inner end, while the 1963 had the revised and improved rear suspension from that year Corvair that added U-joints at the wheel end of the axles. From other web sites, they say the transmissions aren’t interchangeable, but the basic design is similar between the two. I have an old 1962 Motor Repair Manual that has a cross section thru the Tempest automatic transmission. The power goes from the front or the transmission thru a small center shaft to drive the outside (rear) part of the torque convertor. That drives the other forward half which connects to the transmission thru a slightly larger, hollow shaft. The output from the transmission goes aft to the input pinion of the differential via a third larger diameter hollow shaft. Three concentric shafts going three different speeds and sometimes in opposite directions (when in reverse)! The engine, front suspension, torque tube housing, and rear transaxle/suspension went down the assembly line as a unit and then the body was lowered onto it. Also, all early Tempests used 15 inch wheels with 5 bolts rather than 14 inch with only 4 bolts like the Special and F-85. The V-8 in the Tempest was the Buick version; the Olds had different cylinder heads.

    Another interesting thing about the Tempest, F-85, and Special is that all cars shared doors–the same exact doors. The styling crease that ran across the doors had different front and rear ending designs, but across the doors the line is exactly the same.

    Here is a web page for the 61-63 Tempest that covers them from concept thru the Super Duty ’63s.
    http://auto.howstuffworks.com/1961-1963-pontiac-tempest3.htm

    • Thanks Ron for the very imformative comment. I too am pleased by the interest in these cars and the quality of the comments that have been posted about the Tempests.
      Steve McKelvie

  14. Dick Herrin says:

    I had a red ’62 Tempest LeMans coupe and absolutely loved it. It was the 4-4-4 configuration (e.g. 4-cylinder/half 8, Rochester 4-barrel, and 4-speed tranny) that gave me great performance and fuel economy. In several trips up/down I-5 between Seattle and San Diego, I experienced 28-33 mpg. It always had the performance I needed for quick starts and for passing on the highway. I really hated to lose it when it became a casualty of a crash between two other cars. It was totaled and was simply parked at the curb. Otherwise, I would probably still have it.

  15. Mark McCrary says:

    I was the lucky owner of a 1962 Tempest 2 door sport coupe, the same body as the car in the article. They also made a coupe with a larger back window, I think the same one used on the 4 door. My engine was very tired when I got it, so it got a rebuild just after I purchased it in 1992. I did a few things different, the block was bored .060 over to make room for standard bore 400 pistons wich also changed the valve reliefs to allow a newer head. I then modified a Holley Street dominater intake to mount a Q-jet on the beast. By the time I was done, the NEW clutch could not hold the power and I ended up with a 10″ clutch for slant 6 Dodge van. I had many good times in that car but, it became too hard to find parts to keep it going. I now have a Tempest 4 in my 1946 Willys jeep and a factory 4 barrel block tucked away for a future build. In short…I ioved that car but, I love the engine more.

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  17. Curt says:

    Mine was a LeMans 166 horse four barrel carb. But I think it had a 4 speed in it. Long time ago. Hard to remember. Bought it new in 62. A lot of fun to drive.

  18. CHRIS CASTERLIN says:

    IF ANYONE CAN HELP…. IM SEARCHING FOR A CAMSHAFT FOR A 195 CID FOR A CUSTOMER OF MINE…I DONT KNOW WHAT IS OUT THERE SO IF YOU HAVE 1 OR KNOW WHERE I CAN GET 1 PLEASE CONTACT ME AT 800-444-7373 EXT 134… THANKS CHRIS….

  19. CHRIS CASTERLIN says:

    MY EMAIL ADDRESS IS CHRIS.DOUGHERBERT@GMAIL.COM

  20. Cassie Leigh says:

    Hi Steve. I have a few questions I guess…
    My father gave me his 1963 (4-door) Tempest for my 16th birthday. I use it daily, but was wondering about engine swapping. What kind of engine would work? I might come off stupid, but I just haven’t looked into it. Also, if i swap the engine what other parts will be needed to keep up with the power? Tranny, I assume. I’m probably getting about 60 HP right now and would love to upgrade my car. Its an automatic 4 cylinder. Thanks!

    • Hi Cassie,
      I don’t think that I would try to turn your car into a performance car, especially given its four-door body configuration. I would concentrate on making it a solid car with adequate performance. I would recommend that you stay with the engine that you have, repair/rehab/rebuild it as necessary to get it working as it should, while at the same time consider standard Pontiac Tempest upgrades (such as a larger carburetors) that were available on the Pontiac Tempest that year. With this approach you will get better performance than you have now and might be able to get your money back should you decide to sell the car.

      Steve McKelvie

  21. Ron Maty says:

    I left a comment or three in July 31 above. Something I forgot until how is that I had the transmission repaired when we got the car; after that it would jump out of third (high) gear unless you pulled back on the floor shift lever–FIRMLY!!!! Made that trip from Missouri to Florida tiring!!!!

    I replied to Chris Casterlin (above) with some info I dug up; he was looking for camshafts. I’ll copy parts of my emails with some links to maybe help you find parts. Good luck!

    Ron Maty

    This might be the best place to start. You might need to join to get any information, though. http://www.littleindians.com

    Crane cams has a listing but say they are custom grind or re-grind your cam.

    http://www.cranecams.com/view.php?s_id=5

    Ebay has a set of valve lifters $42 but no cams

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/8-Pontiac-Tempest-195-lifters-1961-1962-1963-4-cyl-/330820430156?pt=Vintage_Car_Truck_Parts_Accessories&hash=item4d066f294c&vxp=mtr

    I found this Tempest article on Hemmings web site. http://www.hemmings.com/hmn/stories/2010/08/01/hmn_feature22.html

    At the end It mentions Ken Freeman owner of East West Auto Parts in Tulsa, who appears to know how to soup up the 4 cyl. Here’s their web site. Their email address is at the bottom of the home page. I searched for Pontiac Tempest and found several parts listed, including a 63 4 cyl alternator and grills. I searched for camshaft and don’t think I found one; however they have several 61-63 engines.

    https://www.eastwestautoparts.com

  22. Ron Maty says:

    Me again. Remember the ’63 drivetrain was upgraded to handle the 326 V8. I doubt they put different transmissions, etc. in 4 cylinder cars but the penny-pinching accountants might have dictated the old weaker parts for 4 cylinders and the heavier-duty parts for V8 cars only. Maybe someone who is more of an expert than me–like the Little Indians club above–can answer that.

  23. kyle pryor says:

    So im 15 and guess what i got for my first car a survivor 1962 tempest i was so happy to see it and it only had about 82,000 miles on it i cant wait to start working on it!

  24. Ron Maty says:

    Good for you! When you’re looking for parts remember that the 4 cylinder engine is basically half of a 1961 vintage Pontiac 389 V-8. You might have to buy a V-8 gasket set, for example, but you’ll be getting a couple of extra gaskets in the bargain! I had my ’62 engine rebuilt way back in ’69 and the mechanic replaced a cracked head with one from a V-8. Good luck!!!

  25. Paul Boucher says:

    I owned a 1962 Tempest in 1964 and I loved it! I read most of the articles in this forum an noticed no one mentioned the dash mounted gear shift. I thought it was great. I had to sell it (to a Nun) because I drove quite fast an around 70 or so, the back end became a little unstable. Since I was leaving from Boston to drive to San Francisco, it was the safest thing for me to do. Never had a problem during the time I owned it.

  26. Peter says:

    My father bought a new Tempest in 1962. I was only 5 then. It was black with a red vinyl interior two door and did not have the silly looking clock on the passenger side. It was a good car and he kept it until 1966 when he traded it for a maroon GTO. Now THAT car I remember well and really liked a lot!

  27. MONICA VAVRA says:

    LOOKING FOR GRILLE AIR BREATHER AND REAR EMERGENCY BRAKE CABLE,..ANY HELP WOULD BE FANTASTIC

  28. MONICA VAVRA says:

    THESE ARE FOR A 1962 TEMPEST….

  29. Ron Maty says:

    What is a “grill air breather”?

  30. Ken says:

    Hi Steve, bought a 62 tempest with half engine. Having restored engine runs good and strong . Had a place tell me it wasnt worth restoring. I had a 63 when I was 16. How rare was is that engine?

    • Hi Ken,
      As far as I know these half V8 4-cylinder engines were only used in the Pontiac Tempest cars in the early 1960s. But this engine was the prime engine in the Pontiac Tempest, so they would not be considered as rare. These are very interesting cars and I disagree with the place that told you that It was not worth restoring. While I would not pour large sums of money into an early 1960s Tempest, a wise, thoughtful rehabilitation and repair on a Pontiac Tempest should provide you with an interesting car, at a reasonable price, with good upward potential in the medium to long term. Note that rarely will you see me using the word “investment” when it comes to older classic cars.

      Steve McKelvie

  31. ken says:

    thanks steve; paid 3000 for car will have 6000 in restoration. that is about top end for this car i am willing to spend. will crome engine a little just enough to look good. get alot of looks at car shows alot of people never herd of half engine. thanks again for info.

  32. Scott Macdonald says:

    My parents bought a 1962 Leman 2-door with the 4 cylinder and 3 speed stick on the floor. Car was white with a black interior. As a 16 year old, I tried to learn how to corner the Tempest without the back end swinging around! Some issues such as bad timing chains, and a noisy transmission in 1st and 2nd took away some of the fun factor. I think the idea of the Tempest was good, but the engineering was bad……engine was too big, and really did vibrate at idle….very expensive to repair the clutch and the transmission…..swing axles too dangerous….but I never did spin out in it! Later, my Dad bought a red/white interior 1964 Lemans with the 326 and 4-speed. Boy I which I still had that car, but my Dad wrecked it! Scott in CA

  33. Of the four GM compacts that ushered in the 1960’s, Corvair to date being the only really preserved of all four, the Tempests are by far my favorite, in terms of superiority of styling over the other three in its’ company. It’s sad that the first generation Tempests have had only a sporadic rate of preservation; the majority having had final dates with the car crusher. The first time I had ever seen one was when I was six. It was a white four-door ’62. It belonged to the father of a girl in my Kindergarten class, Tracy Skinner was her name. She was a knockout with her long, gold flowing hair, and deep-set blue eyes. Now, if I should see any first-gen Tempest, or hear of one;the latter seeming far more certain, my mind reverts back to little Tracy Skinner, or the name Tracy in general, this is where my infatuation of this car culminates from. Maybe if the mechanical design had remained in sync with the other three, and not been made quirky, and if not to Citroen DS levels of being a service and restoration nightmare, but neverhteless a migraine in that respect, the first-gen Tempest would have had a fair chance at preservation, like so many other Pontiacs. It wasn’t, and we have to accept the cliche “It Is What It Is.” Sadly, a potential little car in a league with the then likes of Falcon, Valiant, and Lark, of which more survive, and no longer in a league of survival the aforementioned three have seen.

    • Hi David,
      You are right that the Pontiac Tempest was a somewhat complex car. This does make it a challenge to restore these cars. Perhaps it is my engineering background that causes me to admire these cars.
      My suggestion is that you purchase a fully restored Tempest, look up Tracy Skinner, and take her to the local Dairy Queen.
      Steve Mckelvie

  34. doug seprish says:

    As pontiac is known for breaking the rules they should have gone out Breaking all gm rules and badging the g8 the last great act of defiance a tempest. Since i debaged my 09
    g8 , im going to personal tag it a tempst1 showing gm execs what should have been done. Killing pontiac way to soon! Was truly a sad day in American history. Pontiac still rules just check out street outlaws and find out, im just saying.love pontiac for life.

  35. I have found a guy that has just the motor from a Tempest it is the 4 cylinder. Not sure if I should try to use it in a street rod ? How can we find a four barrel intake manifold and other performance items.

  36. Ken Irish says:

    Good morning, I was working on my brakes on my 62 tempest took tire off of one side then had a hard time on the other side. My question is why would they put right and left handed threads on the car. One side was right the other side was left.

    • Aaron says:

      Mopars from that era also did the same thing. I think some engineers from that era seemed to think because the wheels would rotate one direction, they wanted the wheel lugs to rotate in a certain direction as well.

      I have ’62 and some interesting things I’ve observed:
      – Left hand threads on the drivers side like the old Mopars
      – Front suspension, although prior to the Mustang, is just like the first gen Mustang,
      – Front wheel pattern is similar to Ford and also uses 1/2 studs, just like Fords

  37. james allen says:

    I have a Crank cut 10/10 with bearings for the 195 tempest engine. If yo know anyone who is interested in one, let me know. Blew the dust off of it the box and realized what it fit this morning.

  38. Roger F. Arnott says:

    My first car was a1962 Pontiac Lemans with the Rochester 4 barrel carb four speed almost the same color as the one you showed but had the white interior and yes it was a screamer and handled like a dream on a winding road. However being 19 years old and thought I was the best street drag racer in the world it took me 6 months to tear it up, unfortunately. However during that time a lot of Falcon Sprints and Corvair Monsas Spyders bit the dust and various other tries. Of course you had to shift from first to second in the middle of the intersection. But what a ride.

  39. Robert Nieblas says:

    My first car was a 63 Lemans. I rebuilt the 326 and converted it from a automatic to a three speed. I loved that car. I now own a 62 Lemans convertible with a 195. Not quit the horse power of my first Lemans but a very nice car. Robert.

  40. Aaron says:

    Bought a ’62 back in January. Great car, need to do some suspension upgrades as it doesn’t very well at all even though the ride is great. springs and shocks are a must, atlhough I will also replace the bushings and ball joints.

    One strange issue, the car will sit in my garage for a week or two, no transmission leaks. Then all of a sudden, there will be a huge spill on the floor. I’ll wipe it up, it won’t leak, and then a week or two later, a large spill. Can’t seem to pinpoint where it’s coming from although part of the speedometer cable is wet, but not wet where it goes into the transmission! (AUTO). Has anyone had or seen this kind of problem before?

    • Mark says:

      I had a 62, loved it. Keep in mind, 61 and 62 shared the SAME rear suspension as the early Corvair. This is both bad and good, first the bad, camber issue was worse than Corvair’s…no engine to preload the springs. The good news is, all early Corvairs had the same size rear spring pockets, including ramp side and vans. I used van rear springs in my Tempest, great help with the camber. If I had it to do again, I would use van front springs. The rears were stiff, but I could put engines in my trunk. Lol

  41. Doug says:

    As opposed to the Corvair, the Tempest used a support bar (bracket?) to prevent the wheels from folding under. Any other suggests for upgrading the suspension on these early Tempests (shocks, sway bars, tires, alignment). I looking at buying a ’61 with the four, auto trans and 70,000 miles.
    Also, I dont hear much talk on here about the transaxle, how reliable were (are) they? Any major issues with them? Thanks

    • Mark says:

      Nope, nothing special, the 61/62 suspension is identical and interchangeable with the Corvair’s. Using the shorter and stiffer van or rampside springs and the best non gas shocks you can get, works. You can also lower the differential and inner a arm mounts about an inch. Try to find a copy of “performance tuning for the restorer, Pontiacs of the sixties”.

  42. Ray Eugenio says:

    I remember my uncle ‘s 62 Lemans. It was a black coupe with a red interior AND it had the 215 ci V8. I was at a car show a few weeks ago, and I saw a black on red Lemans coupe. I spoke with the owner and told him about my uncle’s car, and he was insisting that the 62 Lemans was never made with a V8.

    • John Guili says:

      1962 Pontiac Tempest

      Pontiac’s new package of punch…posh…and low price! Convertible or Coupe! A couple of fancy, frisky newcomers. Pull the trigger on a fired-up “4”. (Standard power: 110, 115, 120 or 140 h.p. Optional at extra cost: 166-horse “4”; 190 h.p. aluminum V-8; four-speed, floor mounted stick shift.) Plush, sports type bucket seats and full carpeting are part of the package. Plenty more. Front engine balanced by rear transmission. Independent suspension at all four wheels. Big 15-inch wheels and tires(at no extra cost). Get the good word from your Pontiac dealer. He’s very high on the car and very low on the price.

      Info from the Old Ride website…. Note that a 190HP Aluminum V-8 was available in 1962.

      • Ron Maty says:

        The Buick Special and the Olds Cutlass both had the 215 aluminum V-8, but they had different cylinder head valve train designs (with different valve covers too), and the Buick had 5 head bolts per cylinder while the olds had 6. The Tempest had the Buick version with 155 HP, same as the 4 bbl 4 cyliinder. If you search for “Pontiac Tempest”, you’ll find that Wikipedia has a good article about the Tempest and there is a link in there to the Buick V-8. This article says only 3662 Tempests were ordered with the V-8. I have an old Motor Repair Manual from way back in teh 60’s. The 4 cylinder engines were all rated at half the HP and torque as the counterpart 389 V-8. 4 cyl 1 bbl half the values as the 389 2 bbl, etc. I had a ’62 4 cyl 4 door with 3 speed manual. Drove it from KC to West Palm Beach after college in 1970. Traded it in on a 1979 Trans Am at Stewart Pontiac before I had received my first engineering job paycheck.

  43. Ron Maty says:

    Ii also have a 1963 Tempest sales brochure somewhere! Plus a ’64 GTO one that I got at a dealership.

  44. Marcus Blanco says:

    in 1970 my Dad and I worked on a “1963 Pontiac Tempest” which had the half engine but the kicker was the transmission its location and a 80 or 90 pounds flywheel. Yes flywheel, from the engine to the rear end mounted transmission was a connecting bar and on the opposite side of the rear end drive was a flywheel. During my Armed Forces Service years, mid 70s to mid 80s, whenever I mentioned this to another gearhead I would get a look of disbelieve. Now I am so confused as I do not find any information of the 63 Pontiac Tempest with the half engine and rear end mounted transmission/flywheel combo.

    • Ron Maty says:

      If you saw the “flywheel” at the rear of the car, that was the torque converter for the automatic transmission. It rotated out in the open at engine rpm. If you had a manual transmission, the flywheel/clutch were attached to the engine in the normal location. If you read the article attached to this comment blog, you’ll find lots of info about the Tempest. I’ve also left several comments on this site that you might find informative.

      • Thank you Ron for the info. Have a great Christmas and have some duck and andouille sausage gumbo and if you cannot get the gumbo get your self some turkey.

        Merrry Christmas

      • Maty, Ron (MCOE) says:

        Merry Christmas to you, too, Steve! The gumbo sounds wonderful!!!!!!! I’m leaving here at work in a few minutes for the holidays.

        Ron Maty

  45. Phil Guerra says:

    I really appreciate this article! I just bought a ’62 Tempest Lemans rag-top with ‘1/2 engine’ barrel carb. combo just the other day as my 60th birthday present. I cant wait to tweak to my liking. As a kid, I started off driving a ’67 Catalina so I had no idea of the Tempest’s unique qualities.
    Can you give me any leads on where to get more detailed info on the Tempest? Although it is in really good shape, my car needs some attention and I’m ‘flailing around on the internet’ trying to get educated!
    Thanks
    Phil

    • Mark says:

      Hello, believe it or not…at 47, I have a pretty intimate knowledge of the Tempest car and it’s engine. Much of the chassis is based on the Corvair, but the engine is all Pontiac. I owned a 62, now I have 3 engines and no Tempest. I recently bought a race rail Tempest 4. It had the forged crank, extensively ported head, 4-71 supercharger intake and roller cam. Let’s just say, I love the engine and like the car. I would be glad to answer any questions you might have at 775-297-2751.

      • Phil Guerra says:

        Great Mark! Thanks for your contact info. I meant to say the engine has a 4BBL carb! I’m impressed with its power, and fell in love with the Kimberly Blue Color– which led to the total impulse buy!

    • Hi Phil. Go to this site as a start. http://littleindians.com/ Great people with a lot of specific knowledge. Used parts can be found at EastWest Auto Parts in Oklahoma, AMES Performance, and Original Parts Group are good for small items. Other sites like SteeleRubber.com are great for weatherstrippping etc. Good Luck!
      Darren

  46. lrac retrop says:

    GM wanted Pontiac to soak up some of the Corvair excess capacity parts. Delorean drew the line at a rear engine car and was denied a engine budget. So he made do with the 1/2 389 used existing parts and assembly lines. Much more cost effective than the dedicated Corvair engine plant, assembly lines and retrained line workers. The cars were VW beetle fighters. At least that’s the way I heard it.

  47. peter marin says:

    can anyone tell me (a) the appropriate radiator for a single barrel 4 cal pontiac tempest lemans and (b) where to get one? Neophyte needs help.

  48. Ronald says:

    Hi.
    My dad just bought an automatic 1962 convertible red on red Tempest lemans.
    I can’t find the original tire and rim size anywheres.
    The tires that are on now are way too big.
    Thanks , Ron

  49. Jim Lewis says:

    I have a landlord that has a 62 convertible and they are saying that only 100 were made of this vehicle which they claim is worth 25-30 grand. Is it true?

    Jim

  50. David Walvoord says:

    I have a 62 Tempest LeMans convertible I’m thinking about selling. It’s shiny orange, but a “dusty orange.” Pretty good paint job, a couple of tiny rust spots on the panels under the front and rear bumpers. The interior is new, tan vinyl with new carpet also, no stains… The top is matching tan and almost new, the back window is clear.
    It was described to me as a condition three car and it runs pretty good but has to warm up about a minute. It shifts smoothly. White wall tires from Coker and the wheels have been painted matching orange. Everything works except the gas gauge and I had to move the blinker assembly to a universal unit on the column and the horn was moved to the dash. It could easily be returned to stock. The top hydraulics don’t work but it’s easy to put up with two people. Putting it down is easy for one. Fun car overall, I just have too many.

  51. Herb Tobias says:

    My car was a 62 Leman silver it had 166 hp three speed on the floor Statfire Oldsmobile bucket seats and had a 421 head with one header and the dumper plate.I went to the track and raced a 1956 Chevy 265 V8 4 speed and beat him by a car length . Herb

  52. Terry Irvving says:

    I had a 62 lemans convertible when I was in high school in 67. It was pale yellow with black int. It had the slant 4 as we called it with 110 hp. this little car handled quite nicely except as others have noted not so much on slippery roads. Even with the basic engine I could run with most all sixes in compacts of other makes. After all 195 cu. in. is quite large for 4 cyls. I really liked that car and would love to have another. I have been told that it is not a very collectable car because of near zero avalability of part of any kind. Around central Ohio when you can find one for sale a nice one goes for 12 to 15k.

    Terry Irving

  53. Dave Foster says:

    Hi I just wanted to let you know that I have a new pair of fender skirts on EBAY for $65.00 plus $18.00 shipping for 61-62 olds F85 and Pontiac tempest.

  54. Hoyt Bowman says:

    Thank you for the memories! I bought a coupe way back in 1970 for $15.00. That should have told me something about its condition, but I was too young at the time for it to register. Turned out to be a 1:1 scale 1962 Tempest car kit, with parts in two states. To make a long story short, I managed (with the able help of two navy Seabees) to get that car together and running! It was light blue outside, I forget what inside, had the 1/2 v-8, floor mounted shift, and made a fine little car for a young sailor, going all over Florida and Alabama. Sold it to a college buddy when I got transferred, and he kept on using it until selling it in Texas however long later. All these years later and I still fondly remember that little blue car.

    • Mark McCrary says:

      I want to tell everybody, check out Nunzi Romano 1963 Pontiac Tempest 4 cylinder he’s running mid 11’s, naturally aspirated… and it’s a door Slammer. 4 cyl’s can rule!

  55. Eric Land says:

    Having been there at the time, I can tell you
    that the clock pod was actually supposed
    to look “added on” for a modified hot rod
    look. Added on tachs, vacuum guages and
    the like were a kool feature for those wanting
    thier car to look anything but “stock”.

  56. jim s says:

    Here is the car that I learned to drive “stick” on in 8th grade. Same shifter, color, engine, transmission, same interior. Two differences: mine was a convertible, and the family was there to observe (Dad, Mom, all of the boys; he did that to me!) All was fine until I tried to turn left, up onto the old humpbacked street, and killed the engine with a car behind me. Uh-oh, so much advice you never heard . . . I was rattled! Restarted, took a deep breath, revved about medium in 1st and let it out easy, easy, and crawled up the incline out of there. Didn’t miss the chance to glare at Dad, either! Wish he was here. Love you Dad.

    • Hi Jim,
      First learning how to use a clutch has been a challenge for everyone over the years. Thanks for that story! Not too many of us had the opportunity to learn in a nice convertible.
      Steve McKelvie

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