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1961 Pontiac Ventura 389


The 1961 Pontiac Ventura 389 was a natural result of evolution in muscle cars. Pontiac enlarged its 370-cid V-8 in 1959 to create the Ventura 389, its signature engine for much of the '60s. A 345-bhp tri-power option was offered from the start and over the next few years, dealer-installed "Super Duty" factory mods pushed it to 363 bhp.

Muscle Car Image Gallery

1961 Pontiac Ventura 389 is a true collector's car. This muscle car is race ready with the trademark split-grille.
©2007 Publications International , Ltd.
The 1969 Pontiac Ventura 389 came with
the manufacturer's trademark split-grille. See more muscle car pictures.

Introduction of the 389 coincided with the emergence of Ace Wilson's Royal Pontiac dealership in Royal Oak, Michigan, as the quasi-official street-performance arm of the factory. It specialized in the hottest factory parts and in super-tuning Ponchos. A four-speed 363-bhp Catalina prepped by Royal and driven by Pontiac marketing executive Jim Wangers was NHRA Super/Stock champ with an ET of 14.1 at 100 mph.

1961 Pontiac Ventura 389 is a true collector's car. This muscle car is race ready with the trademark split-grille.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The Ventura 389's air cleaner hid three two-barrel carbs.

Pontiac downsized its midrange Catalina and Ventura for '61. Wheel-base dropped from 122 inches to 119, and bodies were shortened by four inches. Most customers winced; rodders cheered. The cars were 200 pounds lighter, and the 389 was strong as ever.

1961 Pontiac Ventura 389 is a true collector's car. This muscle car is race ready with the trademark split-grille.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Here's a look at the interior of the 1961 Pontiac Ventura 389.

Pontiac now offered a wider array of serious performance equipment than any manufacturer, including aluminum front bumpers, radiators, and body parts. Late in the model year, Super Duty 389 hardware was applied to about a dozen 421-cid V-8s intended for pro drag racing.

Other race-ready big-blocks were available in small numbers at the time. But of cars within reach, few blended speed and style like a 389 Catalina or Ventura. Two-barrel versions had as much as 267 bhp, four-barrels had up to 333. The top box-stock choice was the 348-bhp tri-power.

1961 Pontiac Ventura 389 is a true collector's car. This muscle car is race ready with the trademark split-grille.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Few muscle cars blended speed and style like the 1961 Pontiac Ventura 389.

Hardtops had GM's graceful "bubble-top" shape, Venturas came with "Jeweltone Morrokide" upholstery, and buyers could order a host of sporting accessories. A Borg-Warner four-speed manual was now a $306 production item, having previously been a special-order factory option. And Pontiac now authorized dealers to install genuine Hurst shifters for the three-speed manual.

The 1961 Pontiac Ventura 389

Specifications
Wheelbase, inches: 119.0
Weight, lbs: 3,685
Number built: NA
Base price: $3,200

Standard Engine
Type: ohv V-8
Displacement, cid: 389
Fuel system: 3 x 2 bbl.
Compression ratio: 10.75:1
Horsepower @ rpm: 348 @ 4800
Torque @ rpm: 430 @ 3200

Representative Performance
0-60 mph, sec: 8.2
1/4 mile, sec @ mph: 15.5 @ 9

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