1963 Pontiac LeMans sport coupe
The Tempest was introduced as an entry-level
The line offered the optional
This article possibly contains
|Body and chassis|
|112 in (2,845 mm)|
|Length||189.3 in (4,808 mm)|
|Width||72.2 in (1,834 mm)|
|Height||53.5 in (1,359 mm) (sedan)|
54.3 in (1,379 mm) (station wagon)
Despite sharing some sheet metal with the Oldsmobile F-85, the first-generation Tempest had several unique features that made it stand apart from the other compact GM cars. Power came from a ground breaking 195 cubic inch (3.2 L)
The combination of a rear-mounted transaxle and front-mounted engine very nearly gave the car an ideal 50/50 front/rear weight distribution. This, along with a four-wheel independent suspension, helped make the Tempest a nimble-handling car for the era. The front engine/rear transaxle design also eliminated the driveshaft/transmission tunnel in the front of the passenger compartment, while lowering the driveshaft tunnel in the rear compared with a conventional front engine/front transmission layout.
The Tempest's designer, auto industry icon
The Trophy 4 four-cylinder engine was promoted for its economy, but Pontiac also saved money on its assembly: Because it was based on the right cylinder bank of the Pontiac 389 V8 engine, both engines could be built on the same assembly line. There were three versions of the Trophy 4: An economy version with a relatively low 8.6:1 compression ratio and a single-barrel
The Trophy 4 engine was generally reliable, but could be harsh when it was out of tune, due to its inherent lack of secondary balance and absence of balancer shafts.
The Tempest was offered with quite a few options such as air conditioning, transistor radios, windshield washers, a parking brake warning light, padded safety dash, child-proof door locks, and dealer-installed seat belts, as such restraints were not yet Federally required at the Tempest's introduction.
Another departure from the other Y-body cars was the Tempest's 9 in (23 cm) drum, which used five studs on the same bolt circle ("five-on-four-and-a-half") and 15 in (38 cm) wheels - a configuration unique among General Motors cars. Both Buick and Oldsmobile had standardized their Y-body cars on an odd 9.5 in (24 cm) brake drum with four lug studs on a 4.5 in (11 cm)-diameter circle (a "four-on-four-and-a-half" bolt pattern), with 14 in (36 cm) wheels. This arrangement was also not used by other General Motors cars at the time.
Along with the Trophy 4 engine line another optional engine for the Tempest in 1961 and 1962 was the innovative aluminum
The engine blocks used for 215-V8 engines installed in Tempest models were distinct from 215-V8 engine blocks used in other models because, in addition to Buick factory markings, they were also hand-stamped at the Pontiac plant with the
In 1961, the transmission choices were a three-speed column-shifted manual with a non-synchronized first gear, or a two-speed automatic
At its introduction, the Tempest was only available as a four-door pillared sedan and as a station wagon that, like other Pontiac station wagons of the time, had the name Safari added to it. A pair of two-door coupes (one of which was named
For the 1962 model year there were four Tempest models available: a sedan, a coupe, a station wagon, and a convertible. Customers wanting something fancier could opt for the LeMans
In 1963, the LeMans became a separate series; its sales were nearly 50 percent of combined Tempest and Le Mans production. 1963 models, referred to as senior compacts, were slightly larger and heavier than the 1961 and 1962 models had been. These new models featured a redesigned transaxle that improved handling, as well as a high-performance option that was much more powerful than the rarely-ordered 215-V8. This new V8 option for 1963 was Pontiac's
The high-compression 326 V8 engine's output was 260 hp (194 kW; 264 PS) and 352 lb⋅ft (477 N⋅m) of torque (SAE Gross). The actual displacement was 336 cubic inches, but according to lore, since General Motors management edict declared that no GM compact was allowed to have an engine that was larger than the Chevrolet
The cast-iron V8 engine increased the Tempest's weight by 260 lb (120 kg) over the weight of a Tempest equipped with a Trophy 4 engine; front/rear weight distribution changed somewhat to 54/46. Performance with a 326 V8-powered Tempest was strong enough that Car Life magazine wrote "No one will wonder why they didn't use the 389." Fuel economy with the 326 V8 could be as high as 19 mpg. The 326-V8 option proved popular: 52 percent of the 131,490 Tempests and LeMans models sold in the 1963 model year were ordered with the 326-V8 option.
Perhaps the most famous of all Tempests were the 12 1963 "Super Duty" cars built to compete in the
On October 31, 2008, one of the most rare factory race cars, the missing Stan Antlocer Super Duty Tempest Le Mans Coupe, was auctioned on eBay. The seller started the auction at $500 being unaware of the car's true value. Eventually, the car was sold for $226,521.