Fred Stolz's 1965 Pontiac 2+2 Convertible
(from Volume 29, Issue 351)

story by owner Fred Stolz, photos by Michael B. Kelly


I distinctly remember the first time I laid eyes on my 1965 Pontiac Catalina 2+2 convertible. It was 2000 and I was living in South Florida. I had never actually seen a 2+2 outside of magazine articles or online posts and I found her hanging out at a popular Miami cruise night on a steamy summer afternoon. I was aware at the time that the 2+2 was a limited production performance version of the Pontiac Catalina, built from 1964-1967 on the GM “B” body platform. As I approached the car that evening, it was obvious that it had been “driven hard and put away wet”. It was reported to have a numbers matching 421 engine, a 4-speed Hurst shifter was noted and it was riding on a set of classic Pontiac 8-Lug wheels. The car’s owner at the time was a cantankerous acquaintance of my friend Jay Anastos, who I had met through the South Florida chapter of the POCI Club. Jay is a walking encyclopedia of Pontiac knowledge and turned out to be instrumental in the acquisition and restoration of my 2+2. I owe him a debt of gratitude for his guidance over the past 25+ years.

Upon inquiry, the owner of this distressed Poncho informed me that he had no intention of ever parting with this car. After multiple attempts to acquire this ride came up empty, I finally persuaded the owner to agree that I could have the first right of refusal upon his passing. Just in case I would one day own this piece of rolling artwork, I decided to order POCI documentation on the car. It was verified to be a 1965 2+2 Convertible born in August of 1965 at the Southgate California GM plant with a window sticker price of $4,464.68. As the years passed, my heart became heavy as I watched my ride slowly deteriorate, surviving in a carport with a torn awning. Then, out of the blue on a Saturday afternoon in 2008, I received a call from the owner’s brother. He informed me of his brother’s passing, and after condolences were offered, a brief phone negotiation and a trip to FedEx, I finally became the proud new owner of my 1965 Pontiac Catalina 2+2.

In the fall of 2008 I watched with glee as Jay arrived in Daytona from South Florida with my 2+2 in tow on his trailer. Reality was about to set in. Upon arrival, it was disheartening to see in detail the detrimental effect years of sitting in that South Florida carport had on the car’s body and trim. It soon became apparent that I would have to part with my ‘68 GTO ragtop in order to fund what would turn out to be more than a two year initial restoration. I began from the ground up, dealing with safety related issues; brakes, steering and fuel components, suspension and tires. Next was a trip to Express Engines in DeLand, Florida where John Kaselman worked his magic and built my 421 to “HO” specs. This High Output rendering required the acquisition of a set of rare “77” heads, Long-branch exhaust manifolds, a Ram Air 4 cam, Ross pistons, Eagle rods and a number of stock performance upgrades. The goal was to obtain the 376 horsepower spec for a 421 HO engine without exceeding a compression ratio of 10.75:1 and that would run on pump gas. John worked his magic, and my 421 HO left his shop with well over 376 horses, which was achieved at 3,600 RPMs with 450 foot pounds of torque on 93 octane pump gas. I left John’s shop a very happy camper.

Next up was finding an original Muncie M20 long tail transmission to replace the Borg Warner T10 that was literally strapped to the crossmember. Jay hooked me up with a guy who’s 1965 Impala was in need of a 4-speed transmission. This turned out to be a win/win, as the proceeds from the T10 covered the cost of a rebuilt M20 long tail Muncie. Upon installation of the appropriate length drive shaft and correct shift linkage, the Hurst shifter and transmission performed flawlessly. The drive line was completed with the addition of a race proven 3.42:1 limited slip Safe-T-Track BOP rear end.

It was now time to deal with the distressed body. A replacement door, fender, radiator support and inner fender were sourced and my ride made the return trip to South Florida where it wasstripped, re-assembled and painted in original Montero Red. A number of trim pieces and the front bumper made their way to Space Coast Plating in Melbourne for refurbishing. J&M Stainless in Bunnell did a fantastic job straightening and polishing moldings and trim rings. Six months later, I once again witnessed the arrival of my 2+2 back in Daytona on Jay’s trailer. The now defunct South Florida body shop had performed magic, transforming a distressed body into my rolling work of art.

Restoration of the interior was next. Legendary and PUI provided the correct door panels and seat components. Ames Performance was the source for interior and exterior bright work, seals, carpet and “grooved tip” manual antenna. A date correct AM/FM radio was found on eBay and sent to New Mexico for refurbishment, and eBay was also the source for the hard to find B body 4-speed console and tilt steering column. A date correct dash mounted tachometer, window components, quarter glass and a one year only pot metal tail panel were sourced through “Maxperformance”, an excellent online Pontiac forum. A new convertible top with glass window was installed by Nick’s Creations in Port Orange, and a set of red line BFG tires was acquired from the nice folks at Diamond Back Tires. Planned upgrades include the installation of a Hemmings sourced, rare B-Body rally gauge instrument cluster and NOS dash trim.

The 2+2 model was the brainchild of John DeLorean at the Pontiac Motor Division of GM. His concept was to build a “Gentlemen’s GTO”, a combination of high style and performance that could bring home the groceries during the week and tear up the track on the weekend. This car is considered by many to be the GTO’s “big brother”. A similar formula that turned a Tempest into a GTO was applied here. The 389ci block in the base Catalina gave way to the race-proven 421ci in the 2+2. As many Pontiacs of the day were named after race tracks or racing series, it is rumored that the “2+2” badge was derived from a racing series in Europe. At that time Enzo Ferrari was not too pleased with John DeLorean’s adoption of the “2+2” moniker, as the Ferrari 2+2 was tearing up race tracks at the time. In the July of 1965 issue of Car and Driver magazine published an on track comparison of both cars with some very surprising results. In 1965, the 2+2 was a $409 optional performance upgrade to the Catalina, that included a 421ci big block in three power configurations. The HO version sported the Tri-Power carburetion, “0877” performance heads, a Ram Air 4 cam, upgraded suspension and a set of Long-branch exhaust manifolds. The Pontiac 2+2 had a limited production run. It was an optional upgrade to the Catalina for 1964 and 1965, became its own model in 1966 and ceased production in the US in 1967.

Prologue: Due to a reaction to an unknown flaw in a certain manufacturer’s body filler that did not become apparent for over a decade, the car had to once again be stripped down to bare metal in 2022. A masterful restoration was performed by Jeff’s Restorations in Holly Hill, followed by a CeramicPro application by The Gift Detailing in Daytona. The shared knowledge of members of the New Smyrna Beach based East Coast Cruisers Car Club was instrumental in this build and is gratefully acknowledged. CN