Potent Pontiacs will pass to new owners
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There will be more 1,000 vehicles crossing the block at this week's Mecum Auction at the Schaumburg Convention Center. That's a ton of vintage iron composed of all makes and models. The vehicles all have stories, just like the two consigned by a local collector, Andrew Rubin.
The auto enthusiast grew up in Lake Forest and inherited his love of cars from his dad. All throughout his childhood, Andrew's dad would buy and sell cars, instilling a passion within Andrew to do the same.
"You never forget the cars that made an impression on you when you were a child," Andrew said.
As the enthusiast has collected more and more, he's found he's duplicating what his dad purchased. "The cars he had when I was a kid are the ones I'm drawn to," he said.
Besides those special cars with connections to his past, Andrew is passionate about Pontiacs. He's offering two rare pieces at the auction, which begins Thursday, and both warrant a closer look.
1974 Pontiac Trans Am SD 455
Long before Super Duty was used to call out Ford's toughest trucks, Pontiac was using it to signify its top dog Trans Am. Before that, Pontiac used the moniker in the early 1960s on its more powerful cars that were set up to drag race.
Pontiac then revived the nameplate in 1973 and 1974 as an option for Trans Am and Firebird Formula. Andrew found his 1974 example in Hoffman Estates and had the car fully restored.
"I've had Trans Ams ever since I got out of college," he said. "The Super Duty is so rare; it's the ultimate one to have."
During its two-year run, just 1,296 SD 455s were produced and, obviously, the heart and soul was the 455-cubic-inch V-8 powerhouse engine. The block was reinforced, the connecting rods and pistons were forged and it had an ultra-tough crankshaft, to name just a few of the tweaks that made it so potent.
Car & Driver tested one in February of 1973 at a drag strip and found it churned out quarter mile times of 13.75 at 103.56 mph.
"It's a phenomenal powerplant," said Andrew. "It has handling above and beyond for its time. With its low center of gravity and robust suspension, it's not just for set up for straightaways but curvy stuff, too."
1962 Pontiac Catalina
Loving Pontiacs and hearing about a very special, race-ready 1962 Catalina, Andrew quickly followed its trail. "I had heard about it in magazines and when it became available a few years ago, I had to have it," he said.
The Pontiac started off as a Grand Prix model but was finished in the restoration as a Catalina. That overhaul was extensive and a full frame off, completed by Classic Performance Restorations in St. Charles, Missouri. The goal was ultimately to showcase the engine, which is an experimental V-8.
Pontiac's internal skunk works, Department X, put together the 389-cubic-inch engine back in the day and the powerplant features an aluminum block and dual, four-barrel carbs. It was built specifically for racer and car-builder Mickey Thompson, who experimented a lot with getting from point to A to point B in the least amount of time.
Besides the block, there's a ton of rare vintage aluminum parts on the engine such as the intake, cylinder heads, water pump, bell housing and differential. Drag racing is all about going fast and more power and less weight helps achieve that goal.
"It's just one of the coolest cars I've ever owned," Andrew said. "Whenever I take my kids out for a ride, they're in heaven."
This pair of Pontiacs will cross the block this week at the convention center, 1551 Thoreau Drive N, Schaumburg. Tickets for the auction, which runs Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 5-7, are $20 in advance at $30 at the door. For details, visit www.mecum.com.
As for why Andrew is parting with the two cars, he said: "I think it's time someone else gets to enjoy them."
• Share your car's story with Matt at email@example.com.