Pontiac Catalina Gen 5
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
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and other GM divisions downsized their full-sized cars in an effort to lighten weight and improve gas mileage. The Catalina continued as Pontiac's entry-level full-size automobile
with a Buick-built 231 cubic-inch V6 now standard in sedans and coupes (Safari wagons came standard with V8 power) and optional V8s of 301 CID, 350 CID and 400 CID displacements, each Pontiac-built engines and offered in all states except California.
The Pontiac 350 was offered in 1977
, but replaced by Buick and Olds 350 V8s from 1978
; and the Pontiac 400, offered through 1978
, was replaced by an Oldsmobile 403 V8 in 1979
only. An Olds-built 350 Diesel V8 was optional for 1980 and 1981, along with another cut-down Pontiac V8 of 265 CID.
With the downsized 1977
model, the Catalina Safari got a new two-way tailgate that could be opened to the side as a door or lowered as a tailgate which replaced the more complicated 1971
clamshell tailgate design. The wagons also shared the same full-coil spring suspension as their sedan counterparts, rather than the multi-leaf springs found on 1971
As Pontiac V8s were completely banned from the State of California beginning in 1977
due to the inability to meet the state's more stringent emission control standards, Catalinas (and Bonnevilles) sold in California were equipped with engines from other GM divisions through 1981
. Those included the Buick 231 V6 and an assortment of V8s including the Chevrolet 305, Oldsmobile 307, Buick and Olds 350s, and Olds 403 V8.
The Catalina was discontinued after the 1981
model year along with the more luxurious Bonneville as Pontiac sought to abandon the full-sized car market as part of GM's continued downsizing program. The 1982
Bonneville was introduced as a mid-size car. When production of the Catalina nameplate ended in 1981
, over 3.8 million Catalinas had been sold since 1959