Mostly Stock

/ FROM THE MISTS OF TIME A PON­TIAC EMERGES THAT STIRS PEO­PLE’S MEM­O­RIES

Drag Racer - - Contents - BY ROD SHORT

GEN­ERAL MO­TORS STOPPED MAK­ING PONTIACS IN 2010, BUT THE MEM­ORY OF THIS DE­FUNCT BRAND STILL BURNS IN THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF MANY EN­THU­SI­ASTS. Help­ing fan those flames is Ed Bax of Eu­gene, Mis­souri, with this ’63 Tem­pest Su­per

Duty replica.

Buoyed by their suc­cess in NASCAR, a few of Pon­tiac’s man­age­ment types saw drag rac­ing as an op­por­tu­nity to whup some more butt. Know­ing that GM’s ban on rac­ing was forth­com­ing in 1963, a num­ber of Su­per Duty Catali­nas were hur­riedly as­sem­bled. Yet, it was the smaller and lighter 421 SD Tem­pest that made the most noise when Hay­den Prof­fitt won the NHRA Win­ter­na­tion­als A/FX crown with one in 1963.

Just 12 of these light­weight, alu­minum­clad cars were built and, un­for­tu­nately, most are long for­got­ten and un­ac­counted for. Two other de­vel­op­ment pro­to­types, which found their way into the hands of Prof­fitt and stock car driver Paul Gold­smith, were also made.

None of this was lost on a young Bax who grew up in a Pon­tiac house­hold. Out­side of fam­ily, Su­per Duty Pon­chos were their love, and they were al­ways on the look­out for a project car.

“Dad found this Tem­pest about 20 years ago,” Bax said. “It was driv­able and had the orig­i­nal 326 en­gine and transaxle. He didn’t re­ally have any plans for it ’cause he has a Pon­tiac sal­vage yard with a bunch of GTOs, but this car drew a lot of in­ter­est be­cause it was dif­fer­ent.”

Dif­fer­ent is right! With the no­to­ri­ously un­der­rated 421 in a Tem­pest body weigh­ing 1,000 pounds less than the Catalina, these cars were a full half-sec­ond quicker than their fa­mous Swiss cheese full­sized brethren. None of this es­caped the at­ten­tion of a farmer from Mor­ri­son, Illi­nois, named Arnie Beswick. Al­ready a well­known drag racer, Beswick and his Tem­pest made quick work of many oth­ers match rac­ing around the coun­try, mak­ing him a leg­end in the process.

Bax and his fa­ther fin­ished their Tem­pest as a trib­ute to those ul­tra-rare 421 Su­per Duty cars and also to Beswick.

But­ler Per­for­mance in Lawrence­burg, Ten­nessee, put to­gether a 461cid stro­ker with stock 1970-model GTO heads. An ul­tra-rare cross ram in­take topped by Edel­brock 750s. The rest of the car— sus­pen­sion and in­te­rior— re­mains es­sen­tially stock. With driver Jeff Roberts be­hind the wheel, the car has gone a seden­tary best of 11.38 sec­onds at 125 mph.

“We get all kinds of com­ments be­cause no one sees these any­more, es­pe­cially on the in­take,” Bax said. “Arnie has been all over the car, in­side out and even un­der­neath. He re­ally likes it!”

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