Pontiac often gets the credit for kickstarting the muscle car explosion of the ’60s with the introduction of the 1964 GTO. The brand does deserve some credit for the proper muscle car marketing but, as a Pontiac fan, I must admit that the GTO’s recipe of stuffing a larger engine into a midsize or compact body had been done by plenty of manufacturers before. Including Pontiac itself.
Before Pontiac dropped a 389-cubic-inch engine from its full-size cars into the mid-size Tempest to create the GTO, they dropped even more displacement into the previous-generation Tempest, which was a compact at the time. These Super Duty Tempests were destined exclusively for drag racing and were not only gutted for the sake of weight savings but quite extensively modified, too. The run-of-the-mill Tempest used a rear-mounted transaxle with independent rear suspension, and some of the Super Duty Tempests kept that configuration; others were converted to a solid rear axle to handle the abuse.
That’s the case for this recreation Super Duty Tempest, which is for sale in East Dundee, Indiana. It replicates a rare wagon variety of the drag strip icon, one once piloted by Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick. It certainly looks the part.
Pop the hood of this little missile and you’ll find a pair of Edelbrock carbs, modern versions of the Carter AFBs that would normally top a Pontiac dual-quad manifold. They’re feeding 455 cubic inches of Pontiac V-8 through a set of ported #64 heads. The solid axle in this tribute car is a Ford 9-inch with 4.56 gears, a nice drag-friendly ratio that should pair nicely with the Richmond Super T-10 trans for some bang-shifting passes down the quarter-mile.
I’ve often bench-raced what kind of car I’d build if I were to enter Drag Week, where long-distance street driving is paired with drag racing. This wagon is pretty close to ideal in my book. There’s enough power to be fun, plus lots of room for your co-pilot, luggage, tires, and some spare parts. On to of that, the Tempest would look great at any track where it raced. There’s no air conditioning in this one, though—and that’s where “The Farmer” and I go our separate ways.