This 1966 Pontiac Catalina 2+2 is full-size muscle on the cheap

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There are few debates that are more hotly contested in the automotive world than the definition of the term “muscle car.” Though some would vehemently argue that only midsize cars fit the mold, Pontiac actively promoted the link between its full-size 2+2 and mid-size GTO. This recent sale of a 1966 Pontiac 2+2 on Bring a Trailer for $28,750 proves that full-size performance cars have a following, even if the 2+2 remains in the shadows.

The 1966 Catalina 2+2 was available with any Pontiac V-8 you wanted, as long as it was a 421. OK, technically there were three 421 V-8s available, a 338-horsepower base engine with a single four-barrel, and two optional 421s equipped with Pontiac’s signature trio of carburetors in 356- and 376-horsepower variants. Its B-body chassis and corresponding size gave it a weight penalty over the GTO that tended to steal the spotlight in Pontiac showrooms, but the top-spec 421 gave it a slight power advantage to help narrow the performance gap. The Montero Red coupe on Bring a Trailer is equipped with the four-barrel engine that was later converted to Tri-Power.

The 2+2 was truly a performance coupe for four, with bucket seats up front and a console shifter for the three-speed auto or optional four-speed manual, as is the case for the recently sold example here. Performance testing of the 2+2 showed it capable of mid-15-second elapsed times in the quarter-mile, on par with many mid-sized muscle cars and lighter V-8 pony cars.

Of course, performance wasn’t enough; the 2+2 also had to look the part, and Pontiac delivered in spades. From the front, stacked headlights—used on full-size Pontiacs since 1963—flank a deep-set, symmetrical grille split into four segments. In profile, its flared quarter panels mimic the Coke-bottle styling of the GTO. The tail panel, recessed and framed by the crisp, complex folds of the bumper and quarter panel caps, would have proven a stark contrast when parked next to a 1966 Chevy Impala, making the Bow Tie look plain in comparison.

Despite striking looks, sporty performance, Pontiac’s racing pedigree, and relative rarity, the 2+2’s value is more in line with a contemporary Impala SS 396 than the famed SS 427. I make no attempt to hide my bias, but given the chance, I’d much rather choose the head-turning 2+2.

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