1961 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible
No expense has been spared to make this one of the finest Bonneville convertibles in the world, and it drives every bit as well as it looks.
Pontiac invented luxury muscle with the Bonneville, and by 1961, they were rewarded with a third-place finish behind Ford and Chevrolet, a position Pontiac held for the rest of the decade. Cadillacs and Buicks were undisputed leaders in the luxury field, but for the young executive looking for something with a little more performance and a sporty image, Pontiac was happy to oblige with the stunning Bonneville. Only 18,264 Bonneville convertibles were built in 1961, and they were available with a wide range of performance and luxury options.
This particular 1961 Bonneville convertible sports a 389 with Tri-Power and a factory 4-speed transmission, and has recently received a comprehensive rotisserie restoration to exceptionally high standards. Finished in Tradewind Blue with a two-tone red leather interior and a white top, it is simply stunning in person and is the ideal embodiment of Pontiac’s luxury/muscle image. No expense has been spared to make this one of the finest Bonneville convertibles in the world, and it drives every bit as well as it looks.
According to the PHS documentation that accompanies this car, it was originally painted code C Shelltone Ivory. However, during the bare-metal repaint during the restoration, lovely code H Tradewind Blue was selected, and the result is simply magnificent. The bodywork was done to the highest standards, with exemplary panel gaps, and the paint is so deep and lustrous that you almost feel as though you could touch it and send ripples across its surface. Tailfins were fading, but hadn’t entirely vanished in 1961, and the dramatic upswept quarter panels give this Pontiac the appearance of being in constant motion. The chrome has also been fully restored to show condition, including the spectacular Pontiac split grille up front, and all the brilliant stainless trim pieces that adorn the car like jewelry. Please note the side trim with its “BONNEVILLE” block letters, the forward-mounted side mirrors, and the Bonneville’s traditional six taillights framed in chrome. Detroit’s chrome hangover was ending, and the effect is sophisticated, not garish, making the big Pontiac one of the most handsome and understated cars of the era.
The spectacular two-tone red leather interior was exclusive to the Bonneville convertible, and it has been expertly restored to new condition. Finding buckets in a luxury car was a pleasant surprise, but the 4-speed Hurst shifter between them makes the Bonneville unique among its peers. Further dedication to performance includes the accessory column-mounted tachometer, and a speedometer that reads 120 MPH, a number which is probably not terribly optimistic given this car’s performance credentials. Of course, the seats, door panels, and carpets are all 100% new and duplicate the original factory patterns and materials precisely. A trio of auxiliary gauges mounted below the dash is a traditional way of keeping a closer eye on the engine, and a modern AM/FM/CD stereo system has been cleverly stashed in the glove box. Overhead, a new white power convertible top fits beautifully and folds effortlessly with the touch of a button, and hides beneath a matching vinyl boot.
Big performance in a full-sized package was the Bonneville’s calling card, and the code B4 389 cubic inch V8 under the hood (one of only 1323 so equipped) delivers. Originally equipped with a 4-barrel carburetor, it now wears a factory correct Tri-Power setup that has been recently tuned and runs beautifully. The engine bay is nicely detailed, with correct colors, finishes, and markings throughout, from the Pontiac Turquoise paint on the block to the proper hoses and clamps. Power steering and power brakes are included, making this big Poncho easy to handle around town, and it still uses its original generator to make electricity. Perhaps the only real demerit in the engine bay is a standard parts store battery, but correct reproductions are readily available. Underneath, the chassis has been restored and detailed just as carefully as the engine bay, with proper red oxide primer on the floors and exactly zero rust. A new dual exhaust system gives the big ragtop just the right sound, and it rides and drives like new. Extensive recent service work includes rebuilt carburetors, fresh fluids throughout, new spark plugs, a new steering sector and ball joints, a fresh alignment, new fuel pump, and a correct Hurst shifter mechanism. Five new wide whitewall radials were mounted on the original 8-lug wheels, giving it authentic looks with modern ride and handling.
Documentation includes PHS paperwork such as the build sheet and option code breakdown that details this car’s original specifications, as well as a reproduction convertible top manual.
Powerful, luxurious, and surprisingly fast, the Pontiac Bonneville remains an A-list celebrity. With a top-quality restoration, Tri-Power, and a factory-issued 4-speed manual transmission, this is one of the most desirable cars of the era. No other car combined style and performance quite as well as the Bonneville, and this stunning convertible is every bit as impressive today as it was in 1961.