Jim Butcher, a Pontiac enthusiast, wanted to take on a new project after owning two previous Pontiac cars. He decided to search for a '65 or '66 Catalina two-door post coupe because he liked the lighter weight and upright styling of post cars. He found a '65 Catalina in good condition on eBay and decided to place a bid. The car had only 88,000 miles on it and came with original documents. Jim took a leap of faith and drove the car back to Florida himself, as the seller had assured him of its good condition.
Once home, Jim's son, Rob, and his friend Kevin Doyle, who were both autobody technicians, helped with the restoration. They decided to do a "rodstoration," preserving the car's original condition while making some performance upgrades. The chassis was stripped down and restored, with new suspension components and a modified fuel pickup.
The body required some attention, with patch panels welded in and the exterior chemically hand stripped. Rob and Kevin also made modifications such as removing the radio and heater to give the car a cleaner look. The body was meticulously prepared and painted with multiple coats of primer, urethane, and clear coat. The result was a flawless paint job that impressed Jim when he saw it for the first time. For the engine, Jim wanted to use the largest engine Pontiac ever produced, the 455. He sent a '73 455 block and parts to be built at Ken's Speed and Machine.
The engine was bored out to 469 ci and equipped with forged steel rods, forged pistons, and upgraded oiling system. A custom-ground Comp Cams hydraulic stick, Holley carburetor, and Edelbrock intake manifold were also installed. After completing the restoration, the car was driven to the '05 POCI Convention where it received a Third Place in the Modified Class. Jim and Rob have since made further performance improvements and have been able to break into the 12s at a drag racing event.
This project not only provided a unique and performance-oriented car for Jim, but also led to the formation of a new business for Rob and Kevin. They received offers to do side jobs on other Pontiacs and classic cars, leading to the establishment of Metal Masters Custom Fabrication. Overall, the '65 Catalina project was a success, resulting in a beautifully restored and high-performing car, and providing opportunities for both father and son in the Pontiac hobby.