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This 1960 Pontiac Catalina Went "Beep Beep" Before the Plymouth Road Runner Did
A top trim level package at its introduction in 1950, the Catalina became a stand-alone model in 1959. And it soldiered on as one of Pontiac's most popular full-size models until it was discontinued for good in 1981.

This 1960 Pontiac Catalina Went "Beep Beep" Before the Plymouth Road Runner Did

1960 Pontiac Catalina "Road Runner" dragster1960 Pontiac Catalina "Road Runner" dragster1960 Pontiac Catalina "Road Runner" dragster1960 Pontiac Catalina "Road Runner" dragster1960 Pontiac Catalina "Road Runner" dragster1960 Pontiac Catalina "Road Runner" dragster1960 Pontiac Catalina "Road Runner" dragster1960 Pontiac Catalina "Road Runner" dragster1960 Pontiac Catalina "Road Runner" dragster
Like most nameplates that became high sellers in the late 1950s, the Catalina was involved in the drag racing wars of the early 1960s. Yes, GM brands were banned from racing following the 1957 AMA gentleman's agreement, but that didn't stop Pontiac from developing a race-spec upgrade for its 389-cubic-inch (6.4-liter) V8.

Offered as an over-the-counter option, it helped Pontiac establish itself as a dominant force on NASCAR tracks and at the drag strip. The program eventually spawned the 421-cubic-inch (6.9-liter) Super Duty engine, which found its way into the meanest Catalina ever built.

Come 2022 and the Catalina Super Duty is a rare and desirable bird, with many of them fetching close to $500,000 at public auctions. That's nearly as much as the Chevrolet Impala Z11, yet another street-legal dragster from the era.

The 1960 Catalina you're looking at is not one of those ultra-rare Super Duty cars, but it's just as cool. Because it won more races than we can count, it set a national record, and it soldiered on for decades unmolested and unrestored.

Originally purchased by John Eleazer, the Catalina served as a daily driver for about five years. Until John caught the drag-racing bug and decided to turn his full-size into a racer. He kept the original 389 V8 but went with various carburetor upgrades as he hit the drag strips in search of quarter-mile glory.

The Catalina won several events in the Northeast in the late 1960s until Eleazer decided to upgrade the drivetrain once again. Unable to afford a 421 Super Duty engine, he rebuilt the 389, bored it 0.30 over, and topped it with the cylinder heads and the dual four-barrel intake from a 421.

This setup enabled John and his Catalina to run the quarter-mile in 13.4 seconds at New York's National Speedway in the early 1970s, setting a new UHRA class record. Granted, a 13.4-second pass may not sound like much nowadays, but it was a fabulous run for a dragster fitted with factory-type upgrades and a stock interior.

The Catalina did all that while wearing a silver "Road Runner" livery, which also includes the famous cartoon character and the "beep beep!" script. Painted like this in 1965, the Catalina introduced the Looney Tunes character to the automotive world three years before Plymouth launched the Road Runner in 1968.

Okay okay, it didn't have a "beep beep" horn like Mopar's intermediate, but it still counts. And needless to say, it was likely quicker than a HEMI-powered Road Runner down the quarter-mile.

Come 2022 and the Catalina "Road Runner" is still around in astounding shape. Even though it changed a few owners after Eleazer sold it in the late 1970s, the Poncho resurfaced a few years ago with the same "Road Runner" livery and race-winning 389 V8 under the hood.

Still functional and almost perfectly preserved inside and out, this historic Catalina is for sale as of September 2022.

Featured by "Hot Rod Hoarder," it comes with an impressive amount of documents and memorabilia from the drag strip and a trunkful of goodies that Eleazer used to upgrade and maintain the car in the 1960s.

Where's this fabulous racer listed? Well, it turns out it's not going to be offered at a public auction. If you're interested in purchasing the Catalina, you'll need to write an e-mail to "Hot Rod Hoarder," which will put you in touch with the owner. You'll find all the info you need to know in the video below (check out the info section).

But the car is worth checking out even if you're not interested in adding a vintage Catalina to your garage. Because the "Road Runner" is the next best thing to a Catalina Super Duty.

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