By Vern Parker
Pontiac was busy building excitement in 1966
and Leo Cummings wanted to be a part of it.
He had his eye on a Catalina 2+2 convertible but
such a dazzling car did not mesh well with the young man's family situation
which included a wife and two children.
Consequently, plans for the Pontiac were placed
on indefinite hold.
Besides the shark gill slits on the rear fenders
what had attracted Cummings to the stylish Pontiac was the advertised
performance of the car. All of the available V-8 engines delivered well over
All of that muscle was needed in order to propel
the almost two-tons of Pontiac in an appropriately sporting manner.
Practicality, however, reared its ugly head and
the purchase of a 2+2 Pontiac was postponed. Cummings settled for a more family
friendly Ventura model but he kept the 2+2 model alive in his memory. "I'm
going to have one of those,” he vowed.
About four decades had passed when Cummings was
attending an antique car auction in Atlantic City, New Jersey, when much to his
surprise a 1966 Pontiac Catalina 2+2 convertible crossed the auctioneer's
The Pontiac was wearing a coat of Montero Red
paint and had a well-fitted white top. Of course he had to bid on the car.
Unfortunately there was another bidder who had
decided that the Pontiac was going to be his regardless of the price.
Cummings lost out on the bidding but the next
day he saw the same car with a "For Sale” sign in the window. The high bidder
on the Pontiac had located another car that he couldn't live without and was
selling the Pontiac to pay for the second car.
As it turned out Cummings bought the car in 2008
for less than if he had been the high bidder at the auction.
Within a year of getting his Pontiac home to
northern Virginia Cummings says he redid the entire car.
The engine in his Pontiac is the optional
421-cubic-inch V-8 capped with three two-barrel carburetors that deliver 356 horsepower.
A zero-to-60 mph speed in 7 seconds is claimed. The very spacious 3,860-pound
convertible stretches an inch shy of 18-feet-long between the bumpers and is
listed at 79.7-inches wide.
Wheels on the Pontiac are special, each one
fitted with eight lug nuts. Cummings' 2+2 is equipped with power steering,
power brakes, power windows and a power antenna. The AM/FM radio has two
speakers, one in the dashboard and the other at the top of the rear seat. The
car is also fitted with an automatic transmission.
One optional accessory the Pontiac does not have
is air conditioning which was a commonly deleted option on convertible cars of
40 some years ago.
After all, the top could be lowered and wing
vent windows in the doors could be angled to direct cooling outside air to the
occupants of the car.
Front seat passengers were not only coddled in
bucket seats but had seat belts as well.
Cummings rebuilt the V-8 engine before the
summer of 2009 when he drove his car to a Pontiac convention in Dayton, Ohio.
On the trip Cummings says the 121-inch-long
wheelbase provided an exceptionally comfortable ride all the way.
It's difficult to believe that such a luxurious
car could have been offered at a base price of $3,219 in 1966.
Advertising literature of the day enticed the
prospective buyer with prose such as:
"Forget the hum drum run of the road transportation
– buy a Pontiac.”