Home Car Stories Alley Finds 1968 PONTIAC Tempest Custom- Oakland, CA
1968 PONTIAC Tempest Custom- Oakland, CA PDF Print E-mail
Written by Double Dragon
Saturday, 05 April 2014 22:54

1968 PONTIAC Tempest Custom- Oakland, CA


Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown except for 1968 LeMans Custom H.O. advertisement which is copyright Pontiac Motor Division.

68 tempest ho logo

This Tempest Custom is painted up similarly to the off center striping seen on a Firebird Sprint. The Sprint package was available on the LeMans and Firebird. The Sprint was Pontiac's latest effort to buck the GM system. Pontiac's Sprint pushed high performance OHC 6 cylinder engines (derived from the less expensive Chevrolet inline 6) and suffered low sales for their efforts. Pontiac also offered some other ways to achieve performance without a big block.

In 1968 Pontiac created the Tempest Custom H.O. option. The H.O. option was part of Pontiac's attempt to market an inexpensive and well balanced muscle car alternative. The advertisement for the 1968 Tempest HO called it "Our almost great one" in reference/ deference to the GTO's new advertising name "The Great One".

68 tempest ho logo df

The ad shown below states that the 1968 Pontiac Tempest Custom H.O. has a 350 HO V8 with 320 HP, 380 ft.lb torque and a 4 barrel Quadrajet. It points out that even if you add extras like a 4 speed, Hurst shifter and handling package the price is still "right down there in your ballpark".

68 tempest custom HO advertisement

Pontiac's consistent deviation from standard USA formula is indicative of General Manager John DeLorean's persistence despite higher management opposition. Despite starting the muscle car craze with the big engine/ intermediate body Pontiac GTO (which flew in the face of management) DeLoraan as head of Pontiac wasn't satisfied with the USA status quo. He was always seeking ways to equal or surpass European machines. DeLorean pushed to have radial tires available on Pontiacs in the 1960s and pulled out all the stops to create the Sprint optioned Firebird and LeMans cars.

DeLorean made an effort to force the Sprint into the public eye. The overhead six required a lot of engineering to create the quiet but also durable timing belt. Instead of a timing chain or gears which were deemed too noisy, the high mileage tested belt which was quite innovative was developed. A Sprint Tempest was flown over to Europe to be driven on twisty mountain roads for evaluation. The six cylinder OHC Pontiac engines ironically were popular with Jaguar owners who transplanted them into their less than reliable Jags.

68 tempest custom pass f

Similar to the Sprint package the Tempest HO car had a high winding small engine. Instead of a 6, the small V8 was tweaked and provided healthy performance. Tagged as the GTO's 'Little Brother' the car barely sold. Other GM divisions created similar cars around this time. Buick came out with a GS 340 for people wanting the GS imagery without the gas consumption. Oldsmobile had a highly potent 'Ram Rod' 350 Cutlass that was competitive at the drag strip.

The short lived Pontiac Tempest H.O. had cleared the way for the E.T. concept. Probably somewhat embittered after the failure of the advanced OHC 6 to catch on with the American public DeLorean seems to have become soured on anything but huge USA engines. He famously rejected the 'E.T." concept which was designed to go head to head with the Plymouth Roadrunner. The E.T. used a tweaked 350 to match the Roadrunner's 383. DeLorean rejected it stating that

"This is a 400 cubic inch world"

The Pontiac 1969 GTO Judge was born from the remnants of the 'E.T.' concept. Significantly, when DeLorean was promoted to Chevrolet, the OHC 6 vanished. It was doomed anyways because the new Firebird body was too low to house the tall OHC 6 without modification to the hood but it seemed symbolic that once the rebel was gone his projects vaporized, too. Conversely, things he objected to such as a rear sway bar on the GTO popped up for the 1970 model year. The 'E.T' also re appeared as the budget GT-37 but it was equipped with a standard passenger car 350 2 barrel engine.

68 tempest custom side

This Tempest Custom shows the ravages of the Oakland, California sun. This car has been around for decades. The stripe has been on the car as long as any local car buffs can recall which traces back to the 1980s at least.

68 tempest custom int

The interior sports a 3 spoke steering wheel, column shift with the automatic quadrant indicator and bucket seats. In the shot below single exhaust indicates that this is likely a 2 barrel small block car.

68 Tempest Custom rear


Last Updated ( Tuesday, 05 April 2016 20:15 )