1970 Pontiac Tempest Build

Josh Leatherwood Dec 18 2017

When someone purchases a classic sight unseen, there’s always an element of risk. Sure, most folks have good intentions, but there’s no universal standard for judgement and condition. “Great condition” to the seller might only be “good condition” to the buyer. And when it comes to “road-ready”, well, let’s just say that a jaunt to the local ice cream stand doesn’t equal a cross-country road trip. At RK Motors Charlotte, we always recommend either checking out a potential purchase yourself, or hiring a professional to take a look for you. That said, we too are passionate gearheads who sometimes cave to pressure and buy on impulse. So, if you find a must-have classic that you’re willing to take the risk on, the talented techs at our own RKM Performance Center will be happy to sort it out.

Such is the case with this cool Pontiac Tempest, which rolled in to our shop fresh off eBay. As an authentic T-37, it was certainly a cool classic, and, despite being 47 years in to its life, the car ran well too. In fact, this coupe was actually a surprisingly solid muscle car that still had years of enjoyment left in its current restoration, if correctly stewarded. That meant our only task was to make the car a reliable and comfortable cruiser.

In the era of Chevrolet domination, some folks find it a bit nerve-racking to deal with an engine that doesn’t bear cross-flags. Fortunately, Pontiac has solid aftermarket support, and even better: the 350 in this Tempest only needed the basics to rumble right back into shape. We started with fresh gaskets, then orchestrated a comprehensive tune-up that included new fluids, new filters and new spark plugs. One substantial upgrade was the installation of electronic ignition, which included a short list of quality Pertronix Flame-Thrower components. And finally, fresh anti-freeze was cycled through thanks to a full coolant flush.

Under the floors, a newly sealed transmission fronts a factory differential that benefitted from fresh fluid and a new gasket. A second substantial upgrade came with the addition of better brakes, with this Pontiac officially joining the ranks of power front disc and rear drum cars. At the corners, tired Weld ProStars gave way to new school Rally IIs, which wear aggressive 245/45ZR17 Nitto NT555 Extreme ZRs. And when everything was bolted up, we made sure this Tempest spent ample time in our alignment bay.  

As you can tell from our pictures, this Pontiac was already a good-looking car. So, when it came to aesthetics, well, to shamelessly relate to the beginning of this article, we were tasked with transforming “good” into “better”. Since safety is always our top priority, we made sure all lighting was up to snuff. Then we shipped the dash out to Just Dashes for a detailed, professional rebuild. The paint benefitted from a thorough cut and buff that transformed pigmented panels in to faux mirrors. And a fresh set of exhaust tips added a nice finishing touch.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? This Tempest’s owner certainly took a bit of a gamble. But after some acute polishing, we think he hit the jackpot. If you find a must-have classic that needs a little TLC, call the pros at the RKM Performance Center!

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