By on July 9, 2012

There’s a tendency to assume that a battered but reasonably solid Detroit car from the chrome-and-tailfins era is always going to be worth a bunch of money, but the real-world value of such cars turns out to be quite low in most cases. A ’57 Chevy coupe or ’59 Cadillac in fixer-upper condition, that’s real money, but a 1960 Pontiac sedan that’s been sitting for decades is lucky to fetch higher-than-scrap value. That’s a shame, because the ’60 Pontiac is a great-looking car.
Judging from the thoroughly roasted interior and quantities of dust on everything, this car sat outdoors on the High Plains for at least 20 years. Some surface rust, but no real cancer.
Perhaps someone restoring a GTO will grab this 389.
The CONELRAD markings on 1950s and 1960s car radios are always good for a Cold War flashback. CONELRAD was phased out by 1963, but my ’69 Toyota‘s radio still had the markings.
The upholstery is toast, but plenty of salvageable interior trim components remain. I hope someone rescues the good parts from this car before The Crusher eats it.

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36 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1960 Pontiac Ventura...”

  • avatar

    “There’s a tendency to assume that a battered but reasonably solid Detroit car from the chrome-and-tailfins era is always going to be worth a bunch of money, but the real-world value of such cars turns out to be QUITE LOW in most cases.”

    Quite low for FOUR DOOR cars. Four doors can’t get no love, unless it’s a Rolls or some other high-end exotic. I’m assuming someone was keeping this as a parts donor for some two door dream project. Just another project that was all dreams. Like all projects that are more wishful thinking than solid planning, our economy for example, they all end up as scrap.

    • 0 avatar

      You beat me to the punch, I don’t really care for the low value of sedans myself.

      I’ve had 2 doors and 4 doors and theres no real reason to avoid a 4-door.

      • 0 avatar

        This particular Pontiac isn’t a four-door sedan. It’s the four-door hardtop, and thus features the interesting wrap-around REAR window and “canopy” rear roof. That year’s four-door sedan featured a six-window greenhouse.

        This is an attractive car, and much better looking than the sedan version, in my opinion.

      • 0 avatar

        Perhaps I’m biased because my father owned a ’66, then a ’69 Chrysler 300 – both were 4 door hardtops. I never cared for the roofline of the coupes.
        The best wedding picture of I have of my parents is of my mother standing, all very Jacky Kennedy-like, in white (no comment) in front of my father’s 1960 Pontiac. Another 4 door. There’s also a not so motherly photo of my mother, looking very Jayne Mansfield on my dad’s ’57 Oldsmobile, taken a year or so earlier, I believe.
        When I was old enough to remember, my father owned a tire/service center (B&A for anyone old enough to remember those old gas stations) in a small town just outside of Toronto. Consequently, my earliest memories were of a yard littered with a ’57 Lincoln, ’57 Plymouth (Christine, herself!), a hideous black Moris Minor (my mother tells me that my life nearly ended in a Vauxhall my dad resurrected for her to drive and the brakes failed! WE had a series of ’55 and ’57 Fords.
        I think it is easy to see why car freaks who grew up on leaded fuel and screw driver’s down the choke do not get excited by the latest Camry or Pilot.

    • 0 avatar

      Not even Rollses, unless they’re the coachbuilt variety. Just take a look at what decent shape Silver Shadows/Spirits/Spurs go for these days – not a whole lot.

    • 0 avatar

      And now practically all you can buy are four doors or road monsters ranging from baby hulksters (Rav4’s, etc) to Pimp Hulksters (Cadihack Escalators).

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    “the ’60 Pontiac is a great-looking car”

    Maybe, after a 3-martini lunch and an undiagnosed case of syphilis.

  • avatar

    I have an old 2 door. Generally, although it’s a classic, I wish it was a four door with a six instead of a 2 door with an eight. I know that’s heresy but can’t help myself.

  • avatar

    4 door muscle cars just dont work. A 4 door coronet just looks odd… Thats why Dodge killed the Charger when they brought it back as a 4 door…

    • 0 avatar

      But some of the 2 door rooflines didn’t work, and some did. The ’67 Dodge Monaco I once owned was a 4 door sedan (yech,not even a hard top!). The coupe had a sloped roof and looked less chunky. However, when Chrysler switched over to the fuselage styling in ’69, the 4 door roof line was quite handsome. Nobody would ever accuse the ’69 300, with the 440 TNT package to be a slouch. Equipped with the (then) standard front discs, Michelin radials (my father was an earlier believer), that car smoked an unsuspecting ’71 Corvette on the freeway, would easily do 120 mph, and navigate a foot of snow with just all-seasons.
      Those were the days. I am glad I was just enough to remember them, and terrify my father by driving Christine through the yard fence when he dared me to start it. I was 5.

  • avatar

    Money aside, I simply like to see these old cars of a bygone era live on.

  • avatar

    Try finding body and interior parts for an obscure car like this. If it doesn’t share parts with sought after cars it’s an orphan and only the few garage kept creampuffs live on.

    • 0 avatar

      The Ventura was a low-trim Catalina with upgraded “Morrokide” interior. Try finding reproduction upholstery. The 4-door hardtop “Vista” body style is right for the period, but only a convertible, not available as a Ventura, would have any collector value.

  • avatar

    4 door or no, seeing a crust free 50 year old car go to the crusher is sad. Back in the UK (where salt is the killer), cars like this would be snapped up by enthusiasts… even if all that happened was that it was put away in a garage for another 20 years before being restored.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    CONELRAD….Fallout Shelter…. wow they do bring back memories.
    Space Race, Cuban Missile crisis, Berlin Wall, U2 incident, Civil Rights Movement, Kennedy assasination, Vietnam War…..The 60’s were trying times for the US.

    However, the 60s were also the zenith of American engineering and manufacturing. This lowly Pontiac is a testament to this fact. I don’t think any vehicle today would survive 50+ years without becoming a huge ball of iron oxide.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I think the worst offenders are yahoos who think because their car is old and/or a popular model it’s worth huge cash. You know, the ones who think their ride is worth as much as a fully restored one they saw on an auction TV show show or saw in the internet.

  • avatar

    You don’t need to tell me about the lack of love for vintage 4dr cars.

    I currently own a very original 1961 Olds Super 88 4dr hardtop that I can’t sell. I tried, back in 1996 when it still looked, ran and drove very nice, but no one wanted a nice older 4dr car even if it had working factory A/C and only 60K miles and was priced at only $2,500. I ran it in the Auto Trader for 6 straight weeks, and didn’t get a single call on it. It’s been sitting now for the last 16 years along side of my house and I still can’t sell it. It hasn’t been driven in all that time (tight money situation) and it’s now got a little surface rust (nothing cancerous tho) and the chrome is pitted. The seats, however, were protected before it got left to sit and should be in excellent condition, unlike that Pontiac. I still list it occasionally, but still get no calls on it.

    There is no love for older 4dr cars. Shame.

    • 0 avatar

      You are correct and it is a shame.

      I sold my 1941 Chevrolet Special Deluxe 4 door sedan, in pieces, back in the early 1990s (finally realized that I didn’t have the time or the place to ever complete the project).

      I ended up cutting up the body and hauling it away for scrap – I literally couldn’t even get $20 from the last person who looked at it, and it was a good, solid body with minimal rust.

    • 0 avatar

      You hit a nerve here!
      I learned to drive on my mom’s ’62 Dynamic 88 4-door post sedan. Loved the torque of that 394, but hated the brakes. The car wanted to swap ends in the rain under hard braking.
      It’s a shame you can’t unload that car–I’d like to buy it , but it just doesn’t fit my current circumstances. But I think the ’61 is better looking than the ’62 was, and I hope this exchange might find you a buyer.

      • 0 avatar

        Well, I didn’t tell the story here to try and sell it, but only to show that 4dr cars get no love whatsoever.

        It’s not drivable right now. The tires won’t hold air, and most all the rubber including seals probably need replacing. Like I said, it’s been basically sitting since 1996 or so, although it did run and drive when it was parked.

        I probably should do a blog entry on it, but frankly I’m embarrassed about it’s present condition because I’m totally to blame for it. Time does more damage than miles as evidenced by my ’01 Golf. It’s in like new shape with 434,000 miles whereas the Olds is a derelict at only 60K miles.

        For a good before and after view, click on the website below (if it doesn’t get censored as advertising). The pictures at the top were taken shortly after I bought it, and with the original upholstery right before I had seat covers installed. The “after” pics below, taken in 2004, show it’s present condition (well, it’s condition in 2004 anyway) and shows the seat covers I had installed to protect the seats. Also, please don’t try to call the number shown…it’s no longer my number.

        Like I say, I’m not posting this to sell it, but only to show what neglect can do to a car in less than 10 years. Don’t be like me if you have a similar car.

        BTW, that site is the archived version of most of the old site. If you had an old Geocites site that got taken down, chances are that you’ll find it in there.

    • 0 avatar

      If that things still drivable (and if I had the space for it) I’d buy your Olds, sounds like you’re willing to cut a good deal out.

  • avatar

    Aah, you’re cutting me with this one MM, because I, DougD came home from the hospital in a 1960 Pontiac. I always like the look of these, and the glass shows the daring/insanity of the day.

    This would make a great LeMons car, 389 and drum brakes would make for some stately lap times.

    Sadly there will be no rescue forthcoming from me, and these cars have always been unloved. Twenty years ago I saw one for sale in presentable driver condition. It sat for months, then turned up at the wrecking yard.

  • avatar

    BTW, am I the only one who noticed the generator? Alternators were in the “World of Tomorrow”.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    This brings back memories . An uncle was a Pontiac dealer so this is what the old man always bought . Daddy was riding high in 1960 and bought Mom a 1960 9-passenger Bonneville Safari , in a peculiar acid-green metallic with avocado green interior ( he had company cars back then , Fords ). Unfortunately Mom wrecked it after a year or two . But the Pontiacs of this era that impressed me as a 7 year old were the relatives 1959-60 Bonnevilles or Catalinas in this 4-door hardtop style with the wraparound rear window . Remember driving somewhere in the back seat of an uncle’s 1960 white Bonneville with red Morrokide interior – I felt like I was in a spaceship or the canopy of a jet .I agree with comments above about the lack of interest in sedans but to me a Pontiac hardtop sedan of this era -I prefer the 1959 with the split grill – is handsome and with that space age styling some day will be valued . I’ve always thought these were a rare example of where the 4- door is cooler than the coupe or convertible .

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    When I realized restoring Grandma’s ’77 Regal was a pipe dream, I contacted the local Buick club and gave it to them. It was parted out, but at least it lived on in one form or another.

    “U2 incident”

    What the hell did Bono do now?

  • avatar

    You guys are killing me…..4 DR HARDTOPS are very rare as not that many were sold to begin with.These are very collectible if you make it known in your ad that it is a Hardtop. Many people at the time had some kind of a strange hangup with the lack of a center post. “If you roll it or have something fall on it, you will be crushed.” I heard that so many times when growing up. So, not that many were sold and not long after, they were discontinued because a lack of sales and the expense to make them.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    X frame? No thanks. Give me the very simlar Olds version with the X frame + side reinforcements that Olds engineers were wise enough to mandate.

  • avatar

    The more insane side of me wants to take this and throw in some newer Cadillac running gear or something crazy.

  • avatar

    It could be turned into an interesting custom or rat rod…

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    This would make an interesting El Camino conversion. Graft a 59-60 El Camino rear on it.

  • avatar

    I found the photos haunting.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    Back in 1960 i didn’t a yellow bottle of “big shot”. but today? well even the blue buttons dont help much either.

  • avatar

    Why doesn’t our old friend Paul (Niedermeyer) over at Curbside Classic (CC) know about this?! He has often professed his love for the 1960 Pontiacs over at CC!

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