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1963 Pontiac Tempest

The #50 Tempest

The #50 Pontiac Tempest became a project that was also a 50th anniversary celebration. Unquestionably, this car has a very interesting background. We outfitted it with a 421 SD engine, powershift transaxle, and the first unibody that GM produced. It started with twelve junkyard bodies that were soon transformed into one very cool race car …

Paul Goldsmith racing Tempest at Daytona

Steve Snyder

Steve was the man that sold me eleven 1963 Tempests that were in his yard in Muncie, Indiana. The #50 car would not have been possible without Steve’s help.

Early Build

Eventually, after finding the eleven 1963 Pontiac Tempests in Muncie, we started to move them one at a time to Michigan. Troy our body shop man, started construction by disassembling the fleet of cars. The best parts for the #50 project car were cherry-picked from the resulting mountain of parts.

Troy power blasted the full car, worked the body panels, spliced the rear section, and sprayed primer finish in white epoxy. After the bodywork was mostly finished, we loaded it in our trailer and showed the unfinished project at the Tri-Power Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio.

Engine Build

Keith and Jeff Dorton from Automotive Specialists in Concord, North Carolina started the engine build. Then, being blessed a 2nd time, Mark Porch from just up the street from Keith’s shop, sold us a late 1962 421 SD short block that was stuffed in a garage.

Looking for an upgrade, we had Keith use a better connecting rod and a lightweight Diamond Piston to spiff up the short block. Jeff started in on the alloy cylinder heads that we purchased from Edelbrock for durability and a tick up in power. This combo required a bit of retrofitting when used on a 1962 SD block, but Keith and Jeff made this work perfectly. The oil pan was hand-built as it would have been done back in the day, Its kick-out is set up so the motor will not run dry on the tall banks of Daytona. Dyno results were 519 HP @ 6000 RPM, just enough to make this Hot Rod fly.

More about Keith and the engine build can be found on our blog.

Roll Cage

Working with Steve Leavitt, NASCAR legend chassis builder has been nothing less than a blast. We asked Steve to build the roll cage in a period-correct way with some safety upgrades. The connectors from front to rear were welded into place, the roll cage was fit and set up inside the cabin, and the structure is solid. The engineered rear end assembly was set in place for a creative solution by Steve. Believe me when I say its a one-off masterpiece.

Leavitt Performance Design Logo

Motorsports Hall of Fame Donation

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (June 29 , 2022) — A near-perfect recreation of the Pontiac Tempest that shocked the racing world in 1963 by beating Ferrari GTOs and factory Corvette ZO6s at Daytona, and in so doing served as the launchpad for the fabled Pontiac GTO later that year, will arrive later this summer at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America (MSHFA). The MSHFA is located on the grounds of Daytona International Speedway (DIS) where the world-beating Pontiac made history nearly 60 years ago.

Read more here…