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Tempest refers to a mid-size car manufactured by the Pontiac division of General Motors. The model had two distinct production periods: from 1961 to 1972 and from 1988 to 1991.

Detailed Description:

First Generation (1961-1963):

  • Overview:
  • The Pontiac Tempest was introduced in 1961 as a compact car, part of GM’s Y-body platform.
  • It was notable for its innovative design features, which included a rear-mounted transaxle and an independent rear suspension, which provided a more balanced weight distribution and improved handling.
  • Features:
  • Engine: Initially, the Tempest was offered with a 195 cubic inch (3.2 L) inline-four engine derived from the Pontiac 389 V8, essentially cutting the V8 in half.
  • Transmission: The Tempest featured a flexible drive shaft, often referred to as a “rope drive,” that connected the engine in the front to the rear-mounted transaxle.
  • Body Styles: It was available in various body styles including coupe, sedan, and station wagon.
  • Significance:
  • The Tempest was known for its unconventional engineering, which set it apart from other compact cars of the era.
  • It laid the foundation for the more powerful and larger models that would follow in subsequent years.

Second Generation (1964-1970):

  • Overview:
  • The Tempest was redesigned in 1964, moving to GM’s new A-body platform, which also underpinned other mid-size cars like the Chevrolet Chevelle and Oldsmobile Cutlass.
  • This generation marked the transition of the Tempest from a compact to a mid-size car.
  • Features:
  • Engine Options: Included a range of inline-six and V8 engines, providing more power and performance compared to the first generation.
  • GTO Variant: In 1964, the Tempest lineup introduced the Pontiac GTO as an option package, which later became its own model. The GTO is often credited as one of the first muscle cars, with a powerful V8 engine and performance enhancements.
  • Design: The second-generation Tempest featured more conventional front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout, and more aggressive styling.
  • Significance:
  • This era solidified the Tempest’s reputation as a versatile and performance-oriented mid-size car.
  • The GTO variant became an iconic symbol of the muscle car era.

Third Generation (1971-1972):

  • Overview:
  • The Tempest continued on the A-body platform with slight design and performance updates.
  • This generation was relatively short-lived, as the nameplate was retired after the 1972 model year.
  • Features:
  • Styling: Updated with more modern lines and styling cues, aligning with the design trends of the early 1970s.
  • Engine Choices: Continued to offer a range of engines, including the powerful V8s that were popular among muscle car enthusiasts.
  • Significance:
  • The 1971-1972 models marked the end of the Tempest nameplate for a period, with the LeMans and GTO continuing the legacy in the Pontiac lineup.

Fourth Generation (1987-1991):

  • Overview:
  • The Tempest name was revived in 1987 for the Canadian market, based on the N-body platform, similar to the Pontiac Grand Am sold in the United States.
  • Features:
  • Engine and Transmission: Offered various four-cylinder and V6 engines, paired with front-wheel-drive configurations.
  • Body Styles: Available as a two-door coupe and four-door sedan.
  • Design: More modern, aerodynamic styling compared to the earlier generations.
  • Significance:
  • The revival of the Tempest nameplate in the late 1980s aimed to capitalize on its historical recognition, although it was a distinct departure from the original mid-size, rear-wheel-drive performance-oriented cars.


  • The Pontiac Tempest holds a significant place in automotive history, particularly for its innovative engineering in the early 1960s and its role in the muscle car movement of the mid-1960s.
  • The GTO variant that emerged from the Tempest lineup remains one of the most celebrated muscle cars of all time.
  • The various generations of the Tempest reflect the evolving trends and technological advancements in the automotive industry from the 1960s through the early 1990s.
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