We all love Pontiacs, and Jim Butcher is no exception. But one of the things he loves even more than the cars themselves is that he can share the Pontiac hobby with his friends and family; namely his son Rob, who is a real chip off the old block. So it should come as no surprise that when Jim moved on to a new project, this '65 Catalina, Rob and his friend Kevin Doyle were more than willing to lend a wrench, spare time, and more.
A couple of years ago, Jim, part owner of Sound Exchange, a record and movie store in Brandon, Florida, was getting the itch to tackle a new Pontiac project. His previous two rides, a '66 Bonneville and a '65 Grand Prix, were fun drivers, but this time he desired a ride that was more unique and performance oriented. "I wanted to build a go-fast '65 or '66 Catalina two-door post coupe," he says. His logic was simple: "Post cars are lighter than hardtops, and I like the upright styling of the roofline." But post coupes are not as popular as hardtops, so being "unique" would have its downside--where would he find a candidate?
Inside, a '65 Pontiac parts car donated portions of its dash fascia so that Rob and Kevin
Persistence paid off when he spotted a '65 two-door post on eBay. "It appeared to be in good condition--a near survivor--but I wasn't swayed by the description," Jim says. "While the ad seemed honest, I had never purchased more than Pontiac parts through the auction site. I was a little leery, caveat emptor as it were. I shot the seller some e-mails just to see how he responded so I could get a feel for him and his car. As with the description, he was forthright in his answers." Feeling satisfied, Jim placed a $3,550 bid, which was ironically, within $50 of the 1965 bill of sale--later verified by the original document that was included with the Catalina.
While Jim was making plans to ship the Pontiac from Knoxville, Tennessee, to his home in the Sunshine State, the seller revealed, "If I had the time, I would drive it to Florida. The car is that good!" Jim says, "Considering he had been so honest and open in our dealings, I decided to take a leap of faith and drive the Pontiac back myself." Fortifying his car with spare tools and parts, Jim and his wife, Leslie, left for Knoxville. There they met Clifford Quinton and his father-in-law, Horace Trent, the '65's owner.
The Butchers soon learned that the Catalina was purchased in Rogersville, Tennessee, on May 4, 1965, by Trent's sister's husband and had remained in the family ever since. When presenting the original bill of sale and other documents, Trent explained the extraordinarily low odometer reading of 88,000 miles by saying, "There just ain't many places to go in Rogersville."
With a freshly transferred title in hand, the Butchers headed south toward Brandon, Jim in the Cat and his wife trailing as parts support. Not surprisingly, the Pontiac made it home without a problem. "It ran so well that I never even raised the hood for fear I would jinx our good fortune!" Jim says.
When was last time you saw a post coupe '65 B-body? With all the trim, emblems, and orname
Once the Cat was home, son Rob and his friend Kevin, both autobody technicians, rolled an eyeball over Jim's new Pontiac. "Originally we bought the car to thrash on," Jim says, "but the Catalina was in such good shape it seemed a shame to do that." Rob and Kevin's consensus was to do a "rodstoration" instead, and the elder Butcher agreed.
Once the Catalina was stripped to its body shell on the frame and all the parts that were removed were categorized and stored, Rob and Kevin restored the frame and floorpans and shot them with House of Kolor (HOK) black. During the refurbishment, the fuel tank got its pickup modified to employ a 1/2-inch fuel line to feed a big, thirsty Pontiac engine.
Front and rear suspension wear items were replaced, a set of Coil Spring Specialties' springs were employed to reduced ride height 2 inches in the front and 1 inch in the rear, and KYB shocks were bolted in at all four corners. Also employed was a 11/8-inch Addco front stabilizer bar. Since boxed rear control arms were not available, Kevin fabricated and welded plates into the existing units to box them. Polygraphite bushings were pressed into the control arms in an effort to reduce the possibility of axlehop on launch.
All of the brake parts comprising the four-wheel drum system were replaced from front to rear, with steel lines being the only upgrade from stock. Allowing for cooling air to circulate around the drums, and to reduce weight and provide a vintage look, 15x7 Torque Thrust wheels wrapped in Cooper Cobra 215/65R15s were mounted up front while the same wheels featuring Mickey Thompson 235/60R15 ET Street Radials reside in back.