Pontiac Catalina Super Duty

In the early 1960s, Pontiac was the dominant manufacturer in both NASCAR and NHRA drag racing. As the 1963 season approached, the other auto manufacturers were gaining ground, but Pontiac engineers had a few new ideas up their sleeves for the 1963 model. The first order of business was to lighten the frame of the car by drilling approximately 130 holes in it and eliminating the boxed rails.

The result became known as the "Swiss Cheese" Super Duty Catalina. Also removed was the front sway bar, as it was not needed for drag racing. To further reduce weight, aluminum was substituted for steel components, including the front fenders, hood, inner fender wells, radiator core support, bumpers and bumper brackets. The exhaust manifolds, bellhousing and rear axle center section were also specially made from aluminum. More weight loss was achieved by eliminating all non-essential equipment, soundproofing and body sealers.

To qualify for the stock drag race classes, these cars needed to be built on the production assembly line with all the other production Pontiacs. However, the special 421 Super Duty engines that ultimately found their way into the cars were built and installed by Pontiac Engineering after the vehicle was built, but before shipping. The components in these 421 Super Duty engines included the best of the best parts and were very conservatively rated at 405hp.

 These cars were all-out race cars and not designed for street use. Pontiac determined that these "special" cars needed to go out only to select racers around the country and were given - not sold - to key drag race teams. A total of only 14 Swiss Cheese 421 Catalinas were built before the January 1963 AMA ban on factory racing activities came down. This 1963 "Swiss Cheese" 421 Catalina, VIN #363P165870, was ordered and designated as a Pontiac company car for engineering purposes. As such, it was able to be built on April 2, 1963, well after the ban. It also became the very last car to be built under the Pontiac Super Duty program.

Source: Barrett-Jackson press

Gallery: Pontiac Catalina Super Duty