1961 Pontiac Tempest: Motor Trend’s Car Of The Year

A couple of weeks ago I received some photographs in the mail from Marie Farrell of Iowa of her pride and joy – a 1961 Pontiac Tempest.  I have included images of Marie’s Pontiac Tempest in this post.


Marie Farrell’s 1961 Pontiac Tempest

In many ways the 1961 Pontiac Tempest was a quite a car.  It was part of a new, smaller car size coming from the Big Three automobile manufacturers.  But the Tempest offered independent four-wheel suspension and had a rear transaxle.  These were radical engineering offerings from Detroit.  The well-known automotive magazine, Motor Trend, chose the Pontiac Tempest as the 1961 Car Of The Year.


Pontiac Tempest Was The Motor Trend 1961 Car Of The Year

This was the first year of the Pontiac Tempest and Pontiac only offered the Tempest as a four-door sedan, a two-door sedan, and a stationwagon in this first year.  Sometimes I have read that Pontiac Tempest was available as a hardtop, but actually it was a post style hardtop, which in my opinion is a sedan.


Marie Farrell’s 1961 Tempest Is A Great Example Of A Four-Door Sedan

In 1961 Pontiac had two trim levels of Tempest, the base Tempest, which it appears that Marie’s car is and the custom trim Tempest which has some exterior chrome trim behind the front wheel wells.

The standard Tempest transmission was a three-speed manual transmission.  The optional transmission was a two-speed Tempes-Torque automatic transmission with a dashboard-mounted “spoon” lever control.  Marie’s Tempest has the automatic transmission.  The transmission control is on the dashboard to the left of the steering wheel.


This Dashboard Is Quite Basic.  Note The Absence Of A Radio

Pontiac mostly used the 194.5 cubic inch 4-cylinder engine in the 1961 Pontiac Tempest.  This engine was unusual as Pontiac used one-half of the 389 V8 engine, simply by cutting the V8 engine in half.  The 194.5 cubic engine was available in a wide range of horsepowers: 110, 115, 120, 140 and 155 horsepowers.

There was one optional V8 engine in the Tempest which was the 215 cubic inch V8 engine which came with 155 horsepower with a four-barrel carburetor.  In 1961 Pontiac made 2,004 Tempest cars with the V8 engine.  Of these, only 3 had the manual transmission, while the other 2,001 had automatic transmissions.


This Car Has A Bench Front Seat

Marie has expressed to me how much she loves this car.  The car appears to be in good condition and I am confident that she will look after this car.  Currently she is having some issues with the gas tank and is having a hard time finding a replacement.  She would appreciate any advice or information on this matter.


The Interior Of The Car Is In Great Shape

If you have any comments or questions about Pontiac Tempests or this post, then please leave a message below or you can send me a private email message at the following address: shanna12 at comcast dot net

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1 Response to 1961 Pontiac Tempest: Motor Trend’s Car Of The Year

  1. Greg G says:

    Wonder why old Ralph didn’t go after these in his Unsafe at Any Speed “expose”, as they exhibited the same rear end jacking was the swing axels under the Corvair? Probably because the were no sporting pretentious advertised as a Tempest feature. Tempest also had a steel rope drtiveshafr which suposidly did away with the need for u joints. The Buick Skylark and Olds, F 85, were based on the same platform but used conventional drive train, and were more reliable and better selling versions. I remember in 63, the Olds version had a turbo version of the small aluminum V8 that required you to buy ” turbo” fluid and to keep a glass reservoir that looked liker a windshield washer bottle, full of turbo fluid to prevent pre ignition under boost. Wonder how many folks switched liquids by mistake

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