1959 Pontiac Catalina Convertible

The origins of the Catalina name can be traced back to Pontiac’s 1950 model year, when it denoted the innovative hardtop roofline featured on the Chieftain Super DeLuxe Coupe. By 1959, the Catalina had evolved into its own distinct model, marking a significant year for Pontiac.

Notably, Pontiac received the prestigious “Car of the Year” award from Motor Trend magazine, and their dominance in NASCAR stock car races, including victories at Daytona and Darlington, underscored their success. Sales surged by 77% compared to the previous year, propelling Pontiac to fourth place in industry sales, surpassing Buick and Oldsmobile.

Pontiac introduced 47 engineering advancements in their new models, with the innovative “Wide-Track” feature prominently highlighted in advertising. This feature widened the front track by 4 1/2 inches, enhancing handling and road performance.

Additionally, 1959 marked the debut of Pontiac’s iconic split grille design, which would become synonymous with the brand for the next six decades. With the retirement of the Chieftain name, the Catalina, distinguished by its “Strato-Star” styling, became Pontiac’s entry-level offering. A testament to its appeal, 14,515 buyers enthusiastically embraced the new Catalina Convertible.

Story and Photos by RM Sotheby’s