Phil Coconis
by Phil Coconis
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bodacious beaters em and road going derelicts em bona ventura

My peripheral vision is especially tuned in to anything vintage—and especially vintage Pontiacs!

My initial reaction to this sighting was, “Hey, that’s a pretty proper mid/late-sixties Catalina parked over there!” That alone would have qualified it for its fifteen minutes of fame on the Bodacious Beaters page. When inspection revealed the “Ventura” badging on the front quarter panels—well, that put this find on another level, entirely!

Even though “I was there”, back in the day when these dinosaurs roamed the earth in some quantity, I can’t recall any cognitive awareness of the Ventura model until the next generation—the one that shared the same platform as the Chevrolet Nova (and Olds Omega).

Maybe that was because the Ventura was actually an upscale trim variant of the Catalina, not really a separate model unto itself (although it originally debuted in 1960 as such). Why Pontiac didn’t BADGE it as a Catalina Ventura is a mystery to me. Marketing, back then, wasn’t the exact science it has come to be, for sure.

At any rate, the original purchaser—evidence suggesting that to be the current owner—definitely knew what they wanted; and that was to go the whole hog. So—with rear fender skirts (!) and all the rest, if you please—the ‘tura was the obvious option for c. 1968.

And still appears to be.

The photos unequivocally support this statement, and additionally describe why this particular example qualifies as not just a Cool Classic—so well-preserved as it is—but a truly Bona fide Beater:

The trailer hitch accompanied by sagging rear suspension is incontrovertible evidence that this unit is regularly impressed into transporting a travel trailer of significant size.

The retrofitted “High Mount” brake light (which debuted as original equipment on passenger cars here in the U.S. for the 1986 model year) and aftermarket “Driving” lights appear to be very well considered additions. They undoubtedly are (still) functional!

Molto Bene!

Phil has written features and columns for a number of automotive periodicals and web-based information companies. He has run a successful Auto Repair Business in the past for many years (See “Memoirs of an Independent Repair Shop Owner” on this TTAC site). He can be contacted through this very site, or

Phil Coconis
Phil Coconis

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  • Mandalorian Mandalorian on Dec 19, 2012

    My friend had one of these (sedan version) in college. It had some problems and was a hand-me-down from a brother. It had been in an accident before and had some wiring problems in the trunk. One day he drove to college, parked and went to class. When he came back he couldn't find his car, and the parking lot attendant said it burst into flame and had to be towed. Ever since then, we joke that Pontiacs are spontaneously combustable.

  • RatherhaveaBuick RatherhaveaBuick on Dec 19, 2012

    Front end is hideous, but the side skirts are acceptable in this case. The trailer hitch is just awesome...I hope he tows a boat, so when he shows up at the marina next to a bunch of sedate F-150s and Rams everyone looks at him with awe.

  • Pco65752756 Why is this not on the High Mile Cars List?
  • SCE to AUX "But we can all go pound sand in North America, unfortunately"In reality, that would be about 1000 people who can go pound sand, which is why this isn't coming to North America.
  • MaintenanceCosts You could probably make this thing satisfy US emissions standards, although it wouldn't right now, but there is no way on God's green earth you could make it satisfy US safety standards.
  • MrIcky Haven't these been out for a while? Is the news just that Japan gets them now too?
  • JTiberius1701 Jaguar Contour....