Bud Schiefer's 1960 Pontiac Catalina
(from Volume 26, Issue 321)

story by Bud Schiefer, photos by Michael B. Kelly


You might say that my love of cars was in my DNA. My dad was a diesel mechanic for the Pennsylvania Railroad after WWII and my mom ran a gas station with her brother during the war. This was back in the day when they pumped gas, washed the windshield, and checked the oil. Mom also never let anyone beat her away from a green traffic light.

My first love of Pontiac’s started in 1956. My good friend Roger Nye’s dad had a good job and bought the top-of-the-line new Pontiacs. The one in ’56 was special because Roger had a driver’s license and took a group of us to the Drive-In Theater. I remember the car was fully loaded with all the options, 4-Door Hardtop, A/C, Continental Kit on back and most of all, the biggest engine. It would fly! I had my first 120 mph ride in it. You could bury the needle at will.

I was hooked on NHRA drag racing and had several very successful Fords and Chevys, but always respected those big Pontiacs. I had just sold my record holding K/S 1955 Chevy and was racing Ford products, including a 1964 390, 330hp, G/SA and ’67 Comet SS/F with a good friend, Glenn Steiner. I had just started a Speed Shop (C Super Stock Shop) and I saw a 1960 Pontiac, 2-Door Sedan on a local car lot. It caught my eye. The price was right and by the NHRA rule book, it was a perfect F/SA. With lots of hard work and a special set of tuned headers, it was a winner and it was really fun to race since it was a real sleeper.

Fast forward to 2001. Steve Garberick, an employee in my Nationwide Insurance Office, came in one morning very excited. He found a 1960 Pontiac Catalina very much like the one I had in the 60’s on eBay. It was for sale in Lyman, Wyoming for $2,500.

Many of my friends as they were approaching retirement, were getting cars like they had in the 60’s. I discussed it with my wife, Carole, and she agreed. Getting it back to Ohio was another story, but again, my good friend and racing partner came through taking his motor home and car trailer to Wyoming and picking it up. Glenn called and said, “It’s a driver and if it had different tires, you could drive it back to Ohio”.

I was thrilled when it arrived. It was all there and ran nicely, but it needed a good paint job and lots of TLC. It was not long before I was hunting someone to help redo it. Mike Caskey was well known among my car friends for doing beautiful paint jobs. I went to Mike, and he really did not want to do it, saying it was a big car and it would take months to do it and he did not want to tie up his garage that long. I finally got him to say yes by disassembling it in John Lower’s (another friend) garage and Mike would work on it in pieces and I would do all the dirty work. Again, Glenn came through, and we took all the drive train to his garage for updating. My brother Tom, a Vietnam Vet who recently died of Agent Orange, took all the chrome, and did all the bright work in his basement.

I will never forget that Mike would prime a fender and I would sand it, and then he would prime it again. Most pieces were done five times. Mike said when the primer looks like glass then we will paint it. Special thanks to all the guys who stopped by to chat at the garage and pitched in to help clean and sand. One of my most memorable moments was when we finally painted the hood. After many hours of prep, we painted it and closed the garage for the night. The next morning, we returned to find that a beetle had gotten on the hood and crawled about eight inches in the wet paint. Needless to say, we had to strip and redo the whole hood again. The bright DuPont Chromebase Clear Coat Raspberry Metallic paint I owe to my wife Carole. I wanted it Midnight Blue, but she said if you want it as a show car you need a color that will “Pop”, and this color does. Boy, am I glad I listened.

It was finally time to reassemble the car. I had taken Carole to see it at one time when all there was to see were the body shell and steering column, and just a few wires. She said that she would never be able to ride in it. Friend Mike Berger and others at PPG took the glass from the car which was in bad shape. They found some salvage glass for a Caterpillar Tractor which was the right temper and thickness. We were able to purchase it by the pound for $10 and it has a great gray tint. I then took the car to two local brothers who were starting an upholstery shop and they did a great job.

One goal I had when I started this project was to keep it as much 1960 Pontiac as possible. However, there were a few updates: an alternator replaced the generator, electric ignition, polished 17x8-inch American Racing Torque Thrust II wheels, Master Power disc brakes on front, and ’60 Pontiac Tri-Power.

When it was all done, it was a lot of work, but God blessed in many ways. As I look back, probably the work of my brother and friends was the best part of all. Carole and I have traveled over 40,000 miles thru 35 states. The most memorable was having seven cars and thirteen of us traveling Route 66 from Bucyrus, Ohio to the Route 66 Rendezvous Reunion Car Show in San Bernardino, California. Every time we stopped, we were a mini car show. I thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for the great friends and safe travels. CN