When a particular model of car has been around for a long period of time, it goes through a series of changes that are broken down as the “generations” of the car. Looking back at particular models that existed over many decades and through a number of stylistic generations is very interesting. A picture is worth a thousand words, and when you see the steady evolution of a car, you are at the same time getting a look at the way the automotive industry as a whole made continual strides forward.
The Pontiac Catalina is a car that is fun to examine in this way. The name first appeared as a package of options for the Chieftain in 1950, and it didn’t become a model in its own right until 1959 when it represented the low end of the Pontiac lineup. Though it was an entry-level Pontiac, it was still a significant step up from the comparably-sized Chevy, the Impala. 1959 and 1960 are considered to be the second generation of the car, with the third generation lasting from 1961 to 1964.
By 1965 the Catalina was entering its fourth generation, with its sweeping “coke bottle” styling that was elegant, roomy, and sporty. The high performance Catalina 2+2 was offered from 1965 through 1967, and it is a rather rare vintage muscle car today.
The fifth generation of the Catalina lasted for two model years, 1969 and 1970, and once again the car took on a much different look, getting sleeker with sharper lines.
The next evolutionary step for the Catalina was in 1971 when the sixth generation began. This lasted through the 1976 model year.
In the automotive realm not all good things come to an end, as cars like the Corvette will attest, but in the case of the Catalina, this old truism does indeed apply. The seventh and last generation of the Catalina was introduced in 1977, and the car lasted through the 1981 model year.
The car had a nice run, and when you look at the changes that took place over those years that the Catalina was in production you see a slice of automaking history spanning parts of four decades.
Contributed by Fossil Cars Staff Writer