Pontiac Tempest

From Academic Kids

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Motor Life magazine cover, showing rear view of 1961 Pontiac Tempest chassis, with rear transaxle.

The Pontiac Tempest was an entry-level model line produced by the Pontiac division of General Motors from 1961 through 1970. It shared the new GM A platform with the Buick Special, Chevrolet Corvair, and Oldsmobile F-85.

1961

In its first iteration (1961-63), the Tempest was a compact car with an innovative curved driveshaft and a rear-mounted Corvair-derived transaxle - a combined differential and transmission that makes the weight distribution between front and rear more even. The Tempest was Motor Trend magazine's Car of the Year for 1961. Road & Track also praised the Tempest as "exceptionally roomy" and "one of the very best utility cars since the Model-A Ford."

Power came from a 194.5 in³ (3.2 L) straight-4 derived from Pontiac's V8. This engine produced 110 hp (82 kW) (gross), barely enough to push the 3000 lb car. This early Tempest was soon also available with the innovative aluminum Buick-built 215 in³ V8, which was discarded in 1963.

The aluminum V8 was replaced in the new proto-muscle car Tempest Le Mans by Pontiac's 326 in³ (5.3 L) V8, which produced a respectable 264 hp (197 kW). This heavy cast iron engine brought weight up to 3400 lb and was not accompanied by much chassis tuning. Road & Track called it "a spooky combination of too much power, marginal steering, inadequate handling, and poor brakes."

1964

1968 Pontiac Tempest
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1968 Pontiac Tempest

In 1964, the Tempest was redesigned as a much more conventional vehicle. The transaxle was gone in favor of the traditional front-transmission design also used by the Oldsmobile Cutlass and Buick Special. Perhaps the most famous option of all time became available that year on the Tempest LeMans: the GTO.

Revival

For Canada only a version of the L-body Chevrolet Corsica was sold as the Pontiac Tempest.

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Canadian Pontiac Tempest
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Canadian Pontiac Tempest
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