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1963 Pontiac Tempest - Keeping The Faith

Rekindling The Aura Of The Factory-Stock Drags In A Pair Of 11-Second Pontiacs

Jon's '63

Owner: Jon Anderson

Hometown: Riverside, California, former home of a world-renowned road course and a stone's throw from Route 66.

Car: '63 Pontiac Tempest

Crew: Anderson Brothers Racing includes wives Mary (Jon's) and Renee (Nick's), who contribute significantly to car prep.

Engine: There was never any doubt the Tempest would be pure Pontiac, but Jon wasn't so dedicated to period perfection to not take advantage of later developments. His '63 runs a 455 with iron Ram Air III heads (casting no. 12) ported by SMS in Riverside along with an Edelbrock Torker intake. Inside is a set of Speed-Pro pistons making 12.75:1 and an Engle S15 hydraulic cam. A set of vintage 171/48-inch Jardine headers run open as God intended. Dougan's Racing Engines, also in Riverside, made sure everything was right.

Driveline: Anyone who's ever seen My Cousin Vinny knows that '63 Tempests came with transaxles in the rear along with independent rear suspension. Though interesting, that stuff is no good for the drags, so it was ditched in favor of a conventional axle, in this case from a '64 fullsize Pontiac to keep it pure. It hangs from ladder bars with stock shocks and spins a set of 3.90s. Back in the day, SoCal drag racers running Olds or Pontiac rear axles went to Cook's in Santa Fe Springs for housing mods and Henry's Machine (then in Anaheim, now in Running Springs) for axle alterations, and Jon managed to get both to blow the dust off of their fixtures for the Tempest. Replacing the trans portion of the transaxle is a Turbo 400 from a '69 GTO built by Lowell's Automotive in Rialto, California. A Munsinger 10-inch 3,200-stall converter and Cheetah valve body accessorize the 'box, and a '67 GTO His/Hers shifter controls it.

Suspension: The Tempest is basically stock up front including the drum brakes, though surprisingly, Jon has Aerospace Components discs in the rear. "Works perfectly," he tells us. The '64 Pontiac "big car" axle hangs from its stock trailing arms and a pair of ladder bars. It's sprung with stock '64 Catalina coils and shocks.

Wheels/Tires: In keeping with the theme, the '63 runs a set of chrome reverse wheels that appear to be vintage aftermarket pieces but are in fact currently available from Mooneyes and measure a more contemporary 15x7 inches. Jon used to run tall, skinny front tires with narrow whitewalls for maximum early '60s effect, but now shorter blackwall, VW-sized radials roll there. Out back are M&H Racemasters in 28x10.5.

Body: With only 40,000 garaged miles, the stock sheetmetal was in great shape to begin with. Jon added a fiberglass hood and had Alex Idzardi straighten the flanks before applying the white lacquer. Harpoon of Covina, California, applied the hand lettering in the vintage '60s vibe. No modifications have been made to the steel.

Performance: The 455 has been dyno'd at 450 hp at 4,800 rpm at the flywheel and has thus far pushed the Tempest to a best of 11.85 at 112 mph.

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