1981 Pontiac Catalina Review

1981 Pontiac Catalina Safari 307 Olds from North America

Model year1981
Year of manufacture1981
First year of ownership2006
Most recent year of ownership2007
Engine and transmission 307 Olds Automatic
Performance marks 6 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 6 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.5 / 10
Distance when acquired29000 miles
Most recent distance54000 miles
Previous carVolvo 244


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

Average review marks: 7.5 / 10, based on 1 review