Brand loyalty used to be the sort of thing that just happened-a consumer phenomenon spawned by purchasing satisfaction, leading to repeat purchases of the same products. When the automakers realized the value of this mindset, they fueled it by pitting their wares against the competition in venues more brutal than showrooms: racetracks.
None of this was lost on young Jon and Nick Anderson. Their pop was a Pontiac man, and the brothers remember well the journey from Kansas to Southern California in the back of the family '55. Some years later, elder Jon got his first car, a '57 two-door, and outfitted it with a 389 punched out to 401 along with a four-speed and a Hurst shifter from a wrecked late-model Pontiac. "That was the first car I really took pride in; I raced it a lot, though rarely on the track," he says, adding that the street scene in Orange County in the mid '60s seems nearly unbelievable today. "There were hot cars everywhere. If you wanted a race, you didn't have to look far." Later the '57 was replaced by a '61 Catalina, which was then treated to a 421 with another four-speed and a set of 4.30:1 gears.
Nick is three years behind Jon, but he got an early start by obtaining his first car at 15-another '57, but this time a four-door hand-me-down. "I couldn't drive yet, so I took it apart to figure out how it worked. I put it back together with a four-barrel and homemade exhaust cutouts, but it never made it to the street." Later he bought Jon's '57 and outfitted it with a 347 and a C&O hydro. After that he raced a '64 Cat with a 389 Tri-power and a four-speed, followed by a '68 GTO.
Jon and Nick eventually backed out of the hobby to start families, but always kept an eye on hot rods and drag racing. By the '90s, nostalgia for the '60s scene weighed heavily on the brothers. Having been born into the Pontiac tribe and being full-fledged gearheads in the '60s, the Andersons were big Mickey Thompson fans and fondly recalled the Super Duty Tempest he ran starting in 1962. As teenagers, the two had befriended Pontiac racer Jess Tyree by hanging around his shop, a relationship they maintained over the years.
So when Jon found a solid 40,000-mile '63 Tempest around 1990, he knew what to do, even if he couldn't do it right away. He justified the purchase by making the "compact" Pontiac his wife's daily driver for several years (and they're actually still married). A '62 Tempest came later and became transportation for Jon's daughter, but when its half-a-V-8 four-banger took a dirt nap, uncle Nick traded her for a '62 Pontiac wagon, and shortly thereafter, Anderson Brothers Racing was spawned.
Now the team is enjoying the hell out of the pair of mini Ponchos, maintaining the look of yesterday while exploring the go-fast know-how of right now. Stock-class cars didn't run 11s back then, and with the upgrades under contemplation, the Andersons may break 10s soon. And it'll happen with pure Pontiac power.