1968 Pontiac Tempest

Illustration for article titled 1968 Pontiac Tempest

Welcome to Down On The Street, where we admire old vehicles found parked on the streets of the Island That Rust Forgot: Alameda, California. Here's a car that will get the Pontiac experts all excited.

Illustration for article titled 1968 Pontiac Tempest

It has a GTO hood and grille emblem, but a Tempest grille and column-shifted automatic. Even though you could a '68 GTO with the chrome grille instead of the sledgehammer-proof Endura snout, hardly any buyers did so. As for the column shifter, I'm pretty sure the Hurst dual-gate was standard issue on automatic GTOs and Pontiac stopped installing Powerglides in GTOs after 1966… but I betcha there's some guy out there with a PhD in Tedious General Motors Facts who can cite chapter and verse about the 18 1968 GTOs that got chrome grilles and column-shifted Turbo 400s via some renegade dealership in Alaska. Fine. I'm still going to say that we're looking at a '68 Tempest or LeMans with some GTO parts bolted on.

Illustration for article titled 1968 Pontiac Tempest

Or, hell, maybe it's a '69 Cutlass with some Tempest sheet metal welded in; that might explain the Oldsmobile Rally Wheels. You can see where this game will drive you nuts in a hurry, and it's one of the reasons I avoid most classic muscle car shows. Anyway, who cares what DNA this car has? It's a cool-looking GM A-body that lives on the street and gets regular real-world driving action, while most of its siblings have been crushed or turned into coddled garage queens. I suspect that its owner is the same person who once owned this 1966 Mustang, since it parks in the same spot once occupied by the Ford. Perhaps he or she celebrated the date on the car's "Bush's Last Day" bumper sticker by upgrading to a bigger, more powerful Detroit classic.

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Now, in the '60's, there were only two other cars made in America that had positraction, and independent rear suspension, and enough power to make these marks. One was the Corvette, which could never be confused with the Buick Skylark. The other had the same body length, height, width, weight, wheel base, and wheel track as the '64 Skylark, and that was the 1963 Pontiac Tempest. #1968