The 1965 Pontiac Catalina 2+2: Not Quite up to Warp Speed
“I can’t change the laws of physics!” - Scotty to Captain Kirk, from the Star Trek episode “The Naked Time” The 2+2 1965 Pontiac Catalina should have been a hardcore muscle car. Under the hood it had everything needed to set it apart from the crowd. Unfortunately, the engineers that designed it forgot what they learned in school about gravity, weight, and inertia. As a result, the Catalina was one of the lesser-known members of the muscle car pack, when otherwise, it might have been the Alpha Wolf. The 2+2 designation was a term imported from Europe. It referred to the seating for four arrangement. These cars were distinguished visually from regular Catalina models by the side louvers. They also featured a metal trim that ran the length of the vehicle. After 1965 Pontiac also offered a pin stripe package. PHOTOS: See More of the 1965 Pontiac 2 + 2 Sport Coupe
The interior featured bucket seats with a standard Catalina dashboard. A tachometer and vacuum gauge were optional. Manual transmissions shifted on the floor, while auto gearboxes were operated from the column as standard equipment, although console and floor auto shifters were available. Both hardtop and convertible options were available.
The powerplant for the ’65 2+2 was a massive 421 cubic inch brute that turned out 338 horsepower at 4600rpm, though power differed widely depending on the carb configuration. Top of the line was the Tri-Power option, which sported three two-barrel carburetors. This cranked output up to 370 hp.
With so much sheer power under the hood, the Catalina 2+2 should have easily ruled the streets. Performance-wise it was solid, but hardly spectacular. Even with the Tri-Power package, 0-60 time was 7.2 seconds with a quarter-mile time of 15.5. The problem was the sheer mass of the car. 1965 Pontiacs got bigger and wider than their predecessors; the 2+2 had a 121” wheelbase. Total weight was almost two tons, a lot of metal for any engine to move. As a result, the Catalina 2+2 performed more like a speedy luxury liner than the quick, nimble wildcat its designers had envisioned.
A buyer in 1965 could drive off in a brand-new 2+2 for about $3,103, or around $23,000.00 in today’s money. That’s not bad for a car that offered great looks and solid performance. One wonders, however, how much more this car could have been performance-wise, had its builders trimmed off some of the fat and worried more about lean, raw muscle.
PHOTOS: See More of the 1965 Catalina 2 + 2 Coupe