Royal Oak resident Tom Kennedy's classic car is a 1966 Pontiac Catalina convertible that has been in his family since his mom bought it in June of 1966.

Royal Oak resident Tom Kennedy's classic car is a 1966 Pontiac Catalina convertible that has been in his family since his mom bought it in June of 1966.

Photos provided by Tom Kennedy


Pontiac Catalina convertible is fun to drive

Royal Oak Review | Published July 7, 2021

 In this photo, the Catalina is set up to tow a vintage 1959 Airstream trailer.

In this photo, the Catalina is set up to tow a vintage 1959 Airstream trailer.

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My special car is a 1966 Pontiac Catalina convertible that has been in my family since it was purchased new in June of 1966.

The car was originally purchased by my mother, who drove it every day for about 10 years. I purchased the car from her in 1975, at which time it had only 28,000 miles on it. I have owned this car since '75 and, at last reading, the odometer had not yet hit 52,000 miles. The car has not been winter driven in the 45 years I have owned it, and is stored each winter, though started and run regularly to keep it operational.

The car had been repainted in 1975, as the original metallic silver paint had started to oxidize and was looking pretty dull. Over the years, some signs of wear, split upholstery seams, worn floor carpeting, and a couple of larger engine maintenance items had become needed. My son, Ryan, and I made the decision in the spring of 2016 that a major restoration was in order. That decision was based, largely, on a rear main oil seal, which started leaking like a screen door and made the car quite undriveable, as it sat. We began the restoration project in July of 2016 and got to the point of completion we are at today by Woodward Dream Cruise time 2018.

My Pontiac is a very basically equipped Catalina convertible powered by the original 389 c.i.d. V8 engine, 2bbl. Carb & Turbo 400 Hydramatic Trans. The only mechanical upgrades done during restoration were the addition of a dual master cylinder brake system and electric, thermostatically controlled cooling fans. The original top has not yet been replaced, but the car is seldom, if ever, driven when the top needs to be up.

The car performs very well and is fairly quick on its feet for its size and weight. She's no “Trailer Queen” or professional show car. She's just an honest “driver” that in this guy's opinion looks and runs great for a 55-year-old Pontiac. And, NO, that “driver” status does not include any form of inclement weather, or anything at all between late October and early June.

I've driven it in every Dream Cruise since the cruise began, except for the two years it was being restored. It is by no means the fanciest or fastest vehicle in the annual W.D.C., but I do get a few thumbs-up and “10 point” cards flashed when out on Woodward with it. It's just a plain fun car to drive, and I really enjoy seeing people looking, smiling and remembering a connection they have had with an older car.

Tom Kennedy

Royal Oak 

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