By on December 19, 2012

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

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

26 Comments on “BODACIOUS BEATERS and road-going derelicts: BONA VENTURA...”

  • avatar

    Wow a “70 American”. I could always identify a Bonneville. But the other American Pontiac full size name plates? Always a mystery,to me.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    “Ron Burgundy says no!”

  • avatar

    It’s a 1970, not a ’68. But, I didn’t know there were Venturas still that year? For 1971-72, the Nova version was Ventura II.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Those bumper guards have GOT to go…

    • 0 avatar

      Agree, they look like something taken from an old go-kart.

    • 0 avatar

      On the one hand, you’re absolutely right. (They look like something right out of a J.C. Whitney catalog of the era. And while we’re at it, lets ditch those horribly offensive POS auxiliary lights under the front bumper.)

      But on the other, the guards probably contributed to the preservation of the bumpers over the years.

  • avatar

    Back in a time era where you could easily identify not only the car it’self but also the manufacturer, the year, the engine and the model in one quick glance in the dark!

  • avatar

    What you said, ponchoman49. Back when I was a teenager, we always went down to the Buick-Pontiac dealer on a Saturday night after the new year’s models were introduced just to look at them. I could identify any American car back then, but from about ’68 on, I can’t.

    About the trailer hitch. My parents regularly towed an Airstream trailer with their ’66 Buick Wildcat coupe. It was actually a pretty sharp combination. Couldn’t do that these days.

  • avatar

    Good god, I forgot how hideous that front end was that year. Bad combination of Pontiac and Edsel. How did that front design ever get approved?

    • 0 avatar

      +1 Pontiac really lost its styling mojo once the vertical stacked headlights went away.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree, mjz. Best rationale I can come up with is that John Z. Delorean was still running Pontiac before being promoted to Chevy GM. He was on a youth kick, dying his hair, dating and marrying young models and probably taking drugs. Wouldn’t that explain this front end?

  • avatar

    Pontiac’s? That’s the worst case of apostrophe abuse in a while!

    That Catalina is obviously a well-loved vehicle.

  • avatar

    Light blue metallic exterior with green vinyl interior = repaint!

    I would think the original color might have been dark metallic greeen or similar.

    • 0 avatar

      I know that computer monitors can be different and make colors debatable, but the exterior looks to be a minty green to me.

    • 0 avatar
      Saaby D

      On my ’68 LeMans convertible, it was called “Meridian Turquoise”. Paint code K iirc. Seats were a darker turquoise vinyl (sorry, “Morrokide”), that may look green thru the window, or has faded to appear green.

  • avatar

    Back in the day I drove Pontiacs. 1969–1974–1977 all with Pontiacs own 400 ci engines. 17 mpg on a long trip at 60 mph. I cant remember ever having any problems. The 77 was a two year old low milage ex sheriffs car,brown metalic paint regular interior, no extra holes anywhere and the sheriff had the cats removed from the exhaust system. A friend was a deputy and said the dept. had money in the budget so they traded this in way early. It had a big stabilizer bar on the rear, which did help the cornering.

  • avatar

    In college I had a coworker that owned one of these, same color blue, but in total 1980’s beater status. I think it got about 1/2 a mile to the gallon.

    In the wintertime he loved to drive through parking lots and crash into shopping carts. The car was a total land yacht. I still think back to those days and ponder how if you drove a beater Grand Prix today of say 1995 grade, you wouldn’t even consider going “shopping cart hunting.”

    You really haven’t lived until you’ve been unbelted in the passenger seat of a ’70 Pontiac 400 watching old school metal shopping carts get mangled at 15 to 20 MPH impact.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    An uncle was a small town Pontiac dealer and usually drove demos from his inventory – everything from Vauxhalls to GMC trucks, which he also sold. For a couple of years he kept a Ventura 400 sedan , a 1969 IIRC , a 4 door sedan in the dark olive metallic green . Another uncle had a 1968 or 69 Executive hardtop sedan in the same color . One had a black interior and one a green interior and both seemed huge . In college I knew two guys who also had 1968 Catalina sedans , one in the blue metallic here and one in light green metallic , and unusually , both with thee-speed sticks – must have been extremely rare . Both were from hick towns and drove their parents’ former cars . In the seventies had a buddy who had a 1969 Ventura400 sedan in the same olive color . Incidentally these bumper guards may have been aftermarket but the factory offered similar ungainly looking ones as a seldom seen option that I remember my former landlord’s 1970 LeMans convertible having .

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    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.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Jeff S: Paid about $4.09 for regular at Sam’s Club in NKY a few days ago which isn’t bad especially when...
  • ToolGuy: 13 city / 17 highway / 14 combined “I approve” – Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (To...
  • ToolGuy: Hey kids, check it out. 1879 (the year) Edison incandescent bulb takes a little while to come up to full...
  • ToolGuy: Went for another bicycle ride today (more cycling miles than ICE miles this week) and stopped by the sketchy...
  • Jeff S: @WalterRohrl–I don’t know how much of an auto enthusiast EBFlex is because he has more of a...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber