“Maybe the most breathtaking 1962 Bonneville on the planet.” Accolades like this just aren’t heard every day in the world of collector cars. But when they are you can bet they are directed at something exceptional. The elegantly stunning 1962 Bonneville convertible they are talking about now resides in the stable of the exquisite Ken Nagel collection. Viewing the car in person it is easy to understand how it graded out at 996 pts.
By the time 1962 rolled around Pontiac styling had shed the outrageous wings, fins and ’50s era glitz for a more powerfully sophisticated & elegant look in their top of the line cars. The cars were still large as life with their “wide track” stance and bold interiors but no longer did they look like vehicles that could take you and five of your closest friends for a spin around the solar system.
“Make it right – no shortcuts”, that was the charge Steve Brody gave to the expert craftsman he enlisted to help him bring the run-out ’62 Bonnie back to life. After coming off the assembly line in Pontiac Michigan this Bonnie found its way to upstate New York. Steve acquired the car intending to use it for cruises and trips to the ice cream store. But the car wasn’t up to the task and one “fix” led endlessly to another. What kind of life it led in the 43 years before Steve rescued it is a mystery. One thing was for sure, the New England winters took their toll on the red paint job (that was sprayed over the original black). The frame and body panels faired worse, leaving the car precariously close to the end of its nine lives. It was an all or nothing proposition and the perfectionist in Steve decided to go all out and make it right.
In 2005 with his “team” assembled the long meticulous eight and a half year restoration project began. The car was totally disassembled down to the last nut, bolt and washer. Every part was rebuilt and reconditioned back to as new. Parts that were beyond help were replaced with NOS (new old stock) parts. Sheet metal parts that could not be found on donor cars from Steve Snyder’s Indiana Pontiacs yard were hand fabricated on an English wheel by Tom at Good Speed Rides. Where NOS parts like shocks were no longer available Steve had them made, and stamped with the correct part numbers. Everything had to be period correct right down to out of sight parts like the copper spark plug gaskets. After the body and paint work was completed by Jeff King, stainless trim polished by Dennis Barnett and the “parts bin” full, Steve began to painstakingly reassemble the Bonnie in his garage. If fingerprints were allowed Steve’s would be on every piece of the car.
51 years after she was born the finished product stands as a monument to Bonneville power, sportiness, style and luxury. Finished in flawless Starlight Black paint, black leather interior and black convertible top this Triple Black Bonnie is spectacular from every angle. The car is fitted with every factory option available. Most notable are the power vent windows that were available from the factory on Cadillac’s only! How did they end up on Ken’s Bonnie….?
The power train is especially significant because Steve “wished” his own personal build sheet into existence. According to Pontiac’s build records, of the 21,528 convertible Bonneville’s made in ’62, 1,874 were produced with manual transmissions (BorgWarner T5 three-speed and the T10 four-speed). Only 1,500 of these were ordered with the 421 engine. It isn’t known how many were set up to breath through three 2 bbl “Tri Power” Rochester’s, but you can bet there weren’t many. Bolted to the Borg Warner T-10 four on the floor gear box, Kens 421 represents a configuration that rarely if ever rolled off the assembly line. But, if you were standing at the end of the line in Pontiac Michigan in 1962 watching a Bonnie roll off this is what it would have looked like. Keep in mind; these renditions were few and far between so you might have had to wait awhile. At 370 HP* it can hold its own at a stop light or cruise effortlessly with the top down on one of those Midwest “Convertible Mornings” Peter Eagan of Road & Track Magazine reminisces about.
Stuffed with 421 horses and optioned with power steering, brakes, windows, top and leather bucket seats done by Gibbs Auto Interiors, this remarkable convertible also sports a sumptuous interior with polished walnut and stainless steel on the instrument panel and dash, full length dash cushion, custom steering wheel and a console mounted shifter for the 4-speed & tach. Deep pile carpeting, carpeted lower door panels, grab bar on the passenger side of the dash, courtesy lights, and rear arm rest add finishing touches for that elegant “Bonneville feeling”.
The exterior features the famous Pontiac split grill, stainless steel side spears, gold emblems and whitewall tires mounted on those fantastic looking 8-lug aluminum wheels that feature integral cast iron brake drums for improved stopping power.
The Bonneville remained Pontiac’s costliest and most luxurious model throughout the 1960s and was instrumental in pushing Pontiac to third place in sales from 1962 to 1970. It was in 1962, however, that the Bonneville reached its zenith in power, luxury and style.
1962 Pontiac Bonneville option list
fullsizepontiacs.com Full Size Pontiac Club, John Piotrowski
*Trophy 421 HO (High Output) with triple Rochester two-barrel carburetors operated by a progressive throttle linkage, rated at 370 bhp (280 kW).