1970 Pontiac Catalina 400 V8 from North America


A tough car with no end in sight


- Transmission was shot at 198,000 miles.

- Electrical problems with head lights.

- Rear axle went bad about at 125,000 miles.

- Dashboard has pretty bad cracks.

- The seat cloth is horrible. The cushions are still good, though.

- Gas gage doesn't work.

- Trunk is hard to open. Always has been.

- Oil pan got a hole at about 175,000 miles.

- Exhaust is out. That's gone bad over time.

- Passenger door has some minor rust.

- The head gasket went at 142,000.

- Hard to start at sub-zero temperatures.

General Comments:

- This car is great. No one drives them any more, so in a crowded parking lot, it's easy to find.

- This car has never been off the roads more than a week since I've owned it. It's very dependable.

- My Pontiac's fairly roomy, so I keep a lot of my junk in it. I guess it doubles as my mobile storage shed.

- It doesn't get real bad mileage for the type of engine. I don't know what it gets, though. I just fill it up every hundred miles.

- The paint is surprisingly good, considering I only wash maybe once or twice a year. I know I should take better care of keeping it clean, but oh well.

- I don't hesitate a challenge for a race at a stop light. Some times the old boy whoops butt, other times, not so much.

- This car and I are the same age. My friends joke that I'm going to die before it does. I've never owned another car, so I'm doing trying to keep it alive another, maybe ten years.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 18th September, 2008

1981 Pontiac Catalina Safari 307 Olds from North America


A Reliable Utility Vehicle


Replaced original calipers, brake hoses and wheel cylinders

Water pump replaced

Alternator replaced

Heat control won't blend - either full-on or full-off

Tailgate window seal leaking - replacement unavailable

Power steering leaks slowly

Carburetor will need a refresh within a year.

General Comments:

I bought this car for $500 with 29,000 miles on it in May 2006. I needed a vehicle that could carry building supplies for rebuilding my house after Katrina. Thus, the Catalina was dubbed the "Katrina Wagon."

I have used this car to commute 80 miles a day for 16 months. It has hauled 20 4x8 boards of sheetrock, 1700 lbs of floor tile, and numerous other items. The suspension is heavy-duty, and it has the same wheels and brakes as full-size GM pickups.

The a/c still blows cold, surprisingly the factory AM/FM stereo works perfectly with no speaker buzz. Also, the speedometer is dead accurate.

I don't care for the 200R4 overdrive automatic - it's smooth, but slow to downshift and feels a little sloppy and soft. The 307 Olds engine has adequate power for the weight - just enough to hold its own on bridges.

All in all, these full-sized GMs were well designed cars that cruise comfortably and have decent handling and brakes.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th October, 2007

1973 Pontiac Catalina Pontiac 400 w/ 2 barrel carb. from North America


It passes everything, except for the gas station


Rear Coil Springs: 30 year old springs were in dire need of replacement.

Rear Shocks: They may have been the originals, who knows, but whatever they were, they didn't work.

Tires: The car came with the kind of tires you'd find on sale at a gas station. They were all no name brand tires that didn't even match. They had to go.

Exhaust: Since the rear coil springs and the shocks were dead, I bottomed out on a speed bump going 10 mph in a parking lot, and it broke the bolt that connected the muffler to the frame.

Small amounts of rust on the front and rear quarter panels: The previous owner obviously didn't properly store the car in a climate controlled area like a garage, or warehouse. It's not that bad though, just a tiny amount of rot that can be fixed easily.

Needs paint: Because of said mentioned rust/rot, the car needs a new paint job in the near future.

Front end work: Since it's a good 30 or so years old, it needs new upper and lower control arms, shocks, and springs. However, the engine itself seems to be in tip top shape.

Brake lines: This one was the last thing that went wrong before I started work on it. (My goal was to break everything that was on the borderline of being broken, so I would have a general idea of what had to be done) the brake lines cost almost nothing to replace, and the new master cylinder only cost 35 dollars. God bless older cars and their cheaper parts.

General Comments:

Despite the problems listed, the car is reliable to the bitter end. Even with shot out rear suspension, and an exhaust scrapping across the ground it never wanted to give up on me.

Recently however, I've fixed a number of those problems. Namely I brought it to a shop, and had them replace the rear springs, with super heavy duty variable rate springs, the shock absorbers are now air ride shocks. The exhaust was switched out from a single, to a duel exhaust.

The interior of the car when I got it was absolutely gorgeous. Perfect condition no doubt. You sit in it and you feel right at home because the bench seat feels a lot like sitting on a couch. The gas pedal is quick and responsive, and is the brake pedal. For a car that rivals the size of most tuna haulers it can really move, especially now with the new duel exhaust, and stance it's gained from the air shocks.

I'd recommend this car to anybody who likes Pontiac or likes older cars in general. It's a good, reliable car, with plenty of power, a comfortable interior, and lots of potential for growth.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th September, 2005

9th Feb 2006, 05:21

The car is never big enough ;)