1963 Pontiac Tempest Convertible At Lime Rock Historic Festival

At this year’s Lime Rock Historic Festival I saw a nice 1963 Pontiac Tempest convertible. Generally Pontiac Tempests seem to be unappreciated classic cars.


1963 Pontiac Tempest Convertible

The Tempest was Pontiac’s mid-size entry to challenge the mid-size marketplace with Chevelle, Ford Fairlane, and others.


This Convertible Looks Like A Great Summer Car

This Tempest does not have the optional “LeMans” option.  The base factory price for the Tempest Convertible was $2,995 while the Tempest LeMans convertible was only $40 more at $3,035.  Perhaps this is why Pontiac sold 5,012 Tempest convertibles, while selling many more, 15,957, Pontiac Tempest LeMans convertibles.


Pontiac Tempest Advertisement

In looking at the Pontiac Tempest advertisement above, it makes you wonder exactly what that fellow is/was actually taking a picture of?


The Lack Of “LeMans” Badging Suggests That This Has Standard Tempest Trim

The 1963 Pontiac Tempest had many potential engines hat buyers could choose from.  These are listed below:

  • 195 cubic inch inline 4 cylinder, 1 barrel carb, 8.6:1 compression – 115 horsepower
  • 195 cubic inch inline 4 cylinder, 1 barrel carb, 10.25:1 compression – 120 horsepower
  • 195 cubic inch inline 4 cylinder, 1 barrel carb, 10.25:1 compression – 140 horsepower
  • 195 cubic inch inline 4 cylinder, 4 barrel carb, 10.25:1 compression – 166 horsepower
  • 326 cubic inch V8, 2 barrel carb, 10.25:1 compression – 260 horsepower

One engine that Pontiac dropped in 1963 was the 215 cubic inch aluminum V8 engine that had produced 185 horsepower with a four barrel carburetor.  This engine went on to a long life overseas where it became known as the Rover V8 which showed up in many cars.

Note that the 195 cubic inch 4 cylinder Tempest engines were literally half of the 389 cubic inch V8 engine that was in the full size Pontiacs.  Also the 326 cubic inch V8 engine was an underbore of the same block used for the 389 cubic inch V8.  With all of this, it is easy to see how the Pontiac GTO, which started the whole muscle car era, was created in 1964, when Pontiac put a high horsepower 389 cubic inch V8 engine in the 1964 Tempest LeMans with the GTO option.


The Pontiac Tempest 

The 1963 Pontiac Tempest was about 5 inches longer than previous Pontiac Tempests.  It appears that the extra length was built into the rear quarter of the car.


This Tempest Is Fitted With The An Automatic Transmission

There were three available transmissions possible with the Pontiac Tempest.  The standard transmission was a 3-speed manual transmission with an optional 2-speed automatic transmission or a floor-mounted 4-speed manual transmission.  This particular car had the two-speed automatic transmission.


The Lever Below The Right-Most Circular Gauge Is The Transmission Shifter

The Pontiac Tempests were important cars as they were instrumental in starting the muscle car era.

If you have any comments or questions, then please leave a comment below, or you could send me a private email message at the following address: shanna12 at comcast dot net

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3 Responses to 1963 Pontiac Tempest Convertible At Lime Rock Historic Festival

  1. Jeff R says:

    Great Looking Car, the main difference between a Tempest and a Lemans in 63 was if you preferred Bucket or Bench front seats, Lemans had Buckets, a Tempest had a Bench. There were also trim differences, And the Tail lights were Different in 63.
    The 63’s also had a redesigned rear suspension that greatly improved the handling of the rear swing arm suspension. Also very late in the Model year a 326 4bbl engine was available. Not much more power than the 2bbl version but they make that great 4bb sound when the secondaries open. The limiting factor was the Transaxles. The Little Pontiac’s used a modified version of the Chevy Corvair transaxle, and it just was not capable of handling much torque.

  2. Joe bailey says:

    This was my mom’s car. Every car she ever drove was compared to this one. Dad got a deal because of that axle trans problem for the last owner. Mom never had trouble. She loved that car. And making gas attndents open the trunk to check the transmission. Thanks for the memories. Joe B

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