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1961 Pontiac Tempest

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About the 1961 Pontiac Tempest

The Tempest was a compact car produced by Pontiac from 1961 to 1972 before reintroducing it in 1988. The Tempest ran for three additional years before it was discontinued in 1991. For three generations, the Tempest evolved from a rectangular car to a smaller-sized compact car similar to the Chevy Corsica. With four different body styles to choose from, buyers of all ages could pick out the best style that fit their personality.

The third generation, which ran from 1988 to 1991, featured four optional engines and three transmissions. The smaller 2.02 liter I4 was available in the base model, but a slightly larger 3.12 liter V6 was created for drivers who needed more horsepower. Assembly for the Pontiac Tempest took place in two locations: Linden, New Jersey, and Wilmington, Delaware. Only the four-door sedan was available in the early ‘90s model, but it still provided enough room for a family of four.

The first generation Tempest began in 1961 and was produced until 1963. Four different body styles were available with this classic car: two-door convertible, two-door coupe, four-door sedan and four-door station wagon. The largest engine available in this model was the 6.4 liter V8. The second generation was introduced in 1964 and carried over the four body styles from before; however, they were redesigned slightly with a new front and rear end and revised interior. The 1968 model was redesigned and given a similar frontend compared to the first generation and had more rounded corners and increased horsepower.

In 1988, the Tempest was nothing more than a rebadged Chevrolet Corsica since the old Tempest body styles were discontinued. Two trim levels were available during its three-year production: LT and LE. The LT was the base model and featured standard 15-inch wheels, cloth seats and AM/FM stereo. The new Tempest also had a redesigned front grille, new emblems and revised tail lights. Optional on the 1988-1991 Tempest was a new metric instrument cluster and daytime running lamps.

In the February 1961 issue of LIFE Magazine, the Tempest was announced the winner of Motor Trend's Car of the Year Award. The four-cylinder engine was reported to be smooth and powerful and one driver reportedly had to look under the hood to convince myself they hadn't sneaked in a V8". The early 1960s Tempest models are considered a classic by many car enthusiasts today despite the rebadging and poor sales of the final generation. ... View more

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