The Super Duty Program was started in late 1961 and was available to qualified drivers as a Dealer Installed Option, therefore serial number documentation is hard to find for 1961 Catalina or Ventura Super Duty's. The program was a great success at the 1961 Indy Nationals and at Nascar Tracks winning multiple drags and oval competitions. These wins put Pontiac back into the spotlight and gave the Super Duty nameplate a new meaning.
The program was ramped up in 1962 when Pontiac announced that it would make available, from the factory a limited number of Super Duty's. The new package would cost an additional $1,334.24 plus $234.00 for the mandatory 4-speed transmission (Pontiac's automatic transmission at that time could not handle the power output). The new Pontiac was outfitted with a 405 or 410 hp 421 cubic inch engine (true output was around 460 to 500 hp), cast iron or aluminum dump headers, special heavy suspension, special frame, 4:10 or 4:88 posi-traction rear differential and a selection of aluminum front end components including aluminum fender wells, core support, fenders, hood, grills, bumpers and defrost grill. Dealer installed options were also available including plexiglass windows, functional hood scoop and interior deletes.
Conflicting numbers abound on actual output of vehicles and engines. Reliable sources however indicate that in all 178 1962 Pontiac Super Duty's left the factory, 162 were outfitted Catalina's and 16 were outfitted Grand Prix's. 225 421 cubic inch engines were produced, 178 installed and the remaining 63 served as replacements. Now you know why finding just the crank or heads to one of these monster engines is difficult!
In 1963 the program was taken even further with a hotter engine and higher compression. Output of the 1963 engines was base 410hp but true output was rumored 500 to 550 hp. The cars got even lighter thanks to plexiglass windows and an aluminum deck lid, a select few, 15 to be exact had large holes drilled out of the frames, nicknaming these the "Swiss Cheese". Arnie "Farmer" Beswick known for setting many records in the 1961 and 1962 Super Duty's ran a few of the "Swiss Cheese's" on the track. The car did not qualify under the Super Stocker class and so it had to be run in the F/SX Factory Experimental class.
1963 Vehicle output was 88 with 77 outfitted Catalina's and 11 outfitted Tempest's. In January 1963 General Motors announced that its Pontiac Motor Division would no longer support or output factory racecar's such as the Super Duty. Liability was becoming too high for the vehicle manufacturer. Interesting enough when one reflects on the great cars being produced by Pontiac in those years it becomes clear that so much of the spotlight was being taken away from the General Motors Division and Chevrolet could not afford more lagging sales of its Impala, Corvette and other model line-up so the Super Duty Program was abandoned but never forgotten!
Today's hot muscle car market has increased demand for the early equipped Pontiac Super Duty's, some rare examples have been known to fetch close to $750,000 for a flawlessly restored, numbers matching Super Duty. Just recently a very rare Tempest Super Duty sold for $226,000. This vehicle was a shell, missing most of the original components, however, once completed it will no doubt be a fine example of a rare Tempest Super Duty (1963 Pontiac Tempest Super Duty Production = 6).