Green Bay car show packs in everything from Vettes to Rovers …
Summer is car show season and it’s a short season in Wisconsin, so buddy and videographer Paul Daniel and I hit the Cars & Guitars show in Green Bay recently.
The awesome Automobile Gallery on Crooks Street in downtown Green Bay sponsors and organizes the show, which is limited to 400 cars, many by invitation. But the show includes everything from current Dodge Challengers and Chevy Corvettes to snazzy 1950s lead sleds and everything in between.
Ferrari? Yes there was one! Ancient Land Rover? Yes again.
Plus many, many Mustangs, Firebirds, Camaros and Vettes of all ages and descriptions. Paul will be doing a video of one special car soon. But we wanted to post up some of the unique cars, truck and images from the show. So here goes!
Enjoy, and next year mark your calendar for the Saturday of Father’s Day weekend. And thanks to The Automobile Gallery’s PR guru, executive director, and walking car encyclopedia, Darrel Burnett for showing us around. … and the Guitars? Oh, that’s the super music the show puts on stage behind the museum and that can be heard all the way to the far end of the outdoor show area!
Note too that there are about 90 cars and trucks displayed regularly at the museum, some pretty incredible and special stuff too, including an early Electric back when gas, electric and steam were all being tried out for propulsion. The cars rotate through as some are owned by the museum and others on loan, permanent and otherwise.
So a great day outing and you could even stop and see a big football stadium when in the neighborhood, OR take the kids to Bay Beach.
Watch for some special Car Spots coming soon from Paul. Oh, and which car or truck that you see here would YOU like to own?
Ah, the Catalina. The name alone seemed exotic and somehow a bit sexy in the 1960s. But that was during a time when cars had names that stirred imaginations and were not just known by a collection of numbers or letters.
Pontiac was rife with great names during its long run, Bonneville, Firebird, Chieftain, Parisienne, Ventura, Silver Streak, Tempest, Star Chief, and Le Mans, to name a few.
Catalina was a big player and the name hung around for years. Now Auto World creates a 1961 version of the hardtop model and it’s up to AW’s usual fine standards.
It wasn’t until 1959 that the Catalina was offered as its own standalone model, basically a low-cost starter Pontiac if you will. But it was restyled for 1961 and placed on an all-new frame known as the Torque Box. Sounds like it should be fast, right? That replaced the old X frame and one could argue this is when Pontiacs starting becoming lower, longer and wider. Remember the old advertising line, “wide-track Pontiacs?”
For 1961 Pontiac went with the lean long look that it stuck with for years, think Bonneville and Parisienne! The roofs also were squared off and the split grille returned and remained a styling cue for years. That included a somewhat pointed nose and hood. I always thought the split grille as cool as a BMW nose. But then I liked Edsels too.
Naturally speed was vital to car sales in the 1960s and Pontiac and Oldsmobile also were well regarded for their race results in the new burgeoning NASCAR series.
Catalina featured a number of V8 power plants, all based off its 389 cu.in. engine (modeled here) and linked to various transmissions, including manual ones with floor-mounted shifters. There was a four-barrel carb model creating 333 horsepower, plus a Tri-Power option with higher compression to make 348 horses, and another for drag racers with 363 horses. Near the end of 1961 a dealer-installed 421 cu.in. Super Duty V8 became available too.
For the record these big boys rode on a 119-inch wheelbase and were 210 inches long. Think current SUVs. Six styles were offered, including a convertible and station wagon. AW models the 2-door hardtop, which looks a little sportier with no B-pillar.
At auction today the average sale price of a ’61 Catalina is a little more than $39,000, but a perfect one, the auction sites say, could go for $99 grand.
As with other AW 1:18 die-cast models the doors, hood and trunk open and the somewhat sparkly Richmond Gray is perfectly applied.
One of the features that shines on all these 1950s and 1960s models is the chrome as the bumpers, window trim, wiper arms, radio antenna, door handles and the styling accent strip on the car are chrome. The nose and tail Pontiac emblems are well executed and Oldsmobile is spelled out on the rear panel below the 3-body trunk and between the snazzy red oval taillights with silver trim.
Headlights are clear, but textured and the grille silver with black between the strakes for definition. Oh, and there are those little chrome winglets that extend vertically from the front fenders. Fun!
Under that massive hood is a turquoise to baby blue V8 engine block and headers, three chrome carbs and plenty of black wiring and plumbing. The radiator cap and battery terminals are painted silver and there’s a caution label on the protrusion over the fan.
Tires are treaded white sidewalls with no branding and at least one of the tires whitewalls was misprinted slightly. Matte chrome hubcaps feature a flat center cap with Pontiac Motor Division printed on it.
Inside the interior here is a somewhat sparkling rusty red with white door trim panels and stripes across the seat backs, adding flamboyance to the big two-door’s interior. There’s also a cue-ball shifter on the center console, a chrome and red two-stalk steering wheel with chrome horn ring and three black pedals (including a clutch) on the floor. AW finished off the floor with a medium brown flocking to look like carpet and a rust-colored floor mat for the driver.
The dash is Grand Canyon wide and features a silver center portion with wide black and white speedometer, a radio and Catalina printed on the passenger-side dash. Buttons are silver and the door release levers and window knobs are chrome, plus the rear seat armrests include silver ashtrays.
Catalina’s undercarriage is completely detailed too with fine drivetrain and suspension detailing including shocks. Plus there’s a matte silver twin exhaust system and mufflers along with steerable front wheels. Nice detail that even pricier composite models often skip entirely.
All this and pricing still in the $115 range while the composites have grown to upwards of $200, or more if there’s a detailed engine. AW’s die-cast remains high value at an affordable price.
Just a final note that AW made a 1962 Catalina previously and it’s still available through the AW online store, autoworldstore.com.
Vital Stats: 1961 Pontiac Catalina
Maker: Auto World Scale: 1/18 Stock No.: AM1254/06 MSRP: $115.99
The Pony Car market was red hot in 1967. After seeing what Ford had in the Mustang introduced three years before, the other manufactures jumped into the game big time. General Motors had two entries in the game, the Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Firebird which shared the same F-body platforms. There were differences between the two cars. The Firebirds bumpers were integrated into the design of the front end and its rear “slit” taillights were inspired by the Pontiac GTO.
For GM, the Firebird was their Plan B for Pontiac, who had initially wished to produce a two-seat sports car of its own design, based on the original Banshee concept car. However, GM feared such a vehicle would directly compete with Chevrolet’s Corvette. Whoa….can’t do that. Instead, let’s just have it compete with the Camaro. The Banshee was really a cool car and too bad some product manager had his toes stepped on.
Back to the Firebird which was not really a bad Plan B. Since Pontiac was the performance division of GM, there were two V8 engines: the 326 CID (5.3 L) with a two-barrel carburetor producing 250 hp; the “H.O.” (High Output) engine of the same displacement, but with a four-barrel carburetor and producing 285 hp or the 400 CID (6.6 L) from the GTO with 325 hp.
In 1969, it was off to the races as a $725 optional handling package called the “Trans Am Performance and Appearance Package,”, named after the Trans Am Series, which included a rear spoiler, was introduced. Of these first “Trans Ams,” only 689 hardtops and eight convertibles were made.
Of course where were some very famous Firebirds. Starting in 1977, the Firebird, and more specifically the Trans Am, received a number of roles in big movies, most of which starring Burt Reynolds. Later on a Trans Am, named KIT was he star of Knight Rider. What to take a guess on what KIT stood for? Cue the Jeopardy music….. Give up? Knight Industries Two Thousand. “Knight Rider, a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist. Michael Knight, a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the helpless, the powerless, in a world of criminals who operate above the law.” Sorry, I watched way too much TV.
Promo model prices are on a similar scale with the real deals in that the tougher ones to find cost more to own. The first generation 1967-1969 Firebird promos were available in coupe and convertible and generally two or three colors for the coupe and one or two colors for the convertible. Many of the first generation promos have become difficult to obtain in presentable condition. This is due to the fact they were given to small children to play with making the attrition rate very high. I can attest to this myself!
According to John M. Witzke, who writes for the Firebird Gallery website, the 1968 Firebird Convertible is one of the rarest Pontiac promotional models and is considered the most sought after of the first generation models. Value of the first generation Firebird promos in near mint condition generally range from approx. $225.00 for a ’67 coupe to $475.00 for a ’68 convertible. The first gen, 67-68 tend to command the higher prices for collectors.
When the second generation was introduced in 1970, prices dropped in about half to around $180 until 1974 where they can be found for around $50. The second gen is considered to be a good starting point at collecting.
This was, and still is, a great car. There are several factors on why the Firebird has joined the orphan class, one being simply bad management at Pontiac. Too bad since the Camaro, which was killed with the Firebird and now the Camaro is back. I think there is an after market company which is taking the new Camaro and giving it a look similar to what the real deal could have been.