Curbside Classic: 1963 Tempest LeMans- Pontiac Tries To Build A BMW Before BMW Built Theirs And Almost Succeeds

In the thirties and forties, GM pioneered and brought to market some of the most innovative, successful and lasting new technologies: diesel-electric locomotives, the modern diesel bus, automatic transmissions, refrigeration and air conditioning systems, high compression engines, independent front suspension, and many more. But GM’s technology prowess was just one facet of its endlessly warring multiple personalities. Planned obsolescence, chrome, fins and financial rationalization were the real moneymakers, especially during the technically conservative fifties. But in the period from 1960 to 1966, GM built three production cars that tried to upend the traditional format: the rear engined 1960 Corvair, the front-wheel drive 1966 Toronado, and the 1961 Tempest. And although the Corvair and Toronado tend to get the bulk of the attention, the Tempest’s format was by far the most enduring one: it was a BMW before BMW built theirs. If only they had stuck with it.

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Curbside Classic: 1964 BMW 1800

Risky business. That defines the car business, and never more succinctly so than in the case of this car. Rarely has a desperate last-minute gamble paid of so handsomely as the “Neue Klasse” BMWs. Today’s new owners of Saab can only dream (hallucinate) about turning their business around so quickly and definitively as this BMW did. But having the guts and money to back the risk taking is only part of the equation. Most of all, it’s a matter of being at the right time with the right product, and having the smarts to recognize it. In 1962, the seemingly impossible wasn’t. Today? Good luck.

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