September 1986

September 1986 spy picOkay, so that’s a Chevy Beretta in the picture to the right. Right?

That’s a little hard to be sure of since the intel accompanying this spy shot is somewhat muddled. The opinion of the auto gurus at the time was that this is not a Chevy.

Continue reading to see the rest of the car and learn why they might not have been too far off in their opinion.

Tempest in a test tube
The car was identified as a Pontiac Tempest.

September 1986 spy pic Pontiac TempestWhile this may sound strange to some of us in the US, the thought of a Pontiac version of Chevrolet’s supposedly exclusive L-body Beretta may seem more palatable to our friends up north. That’s because Canada did receive a Pontiac version of Beretta’s brother, the Corsica. And, its name was Tempest.

L-Body Pontiac TempestFor the most part, that sedan was a badge job. As you can see to the right, the grill and Pontiac-specific wheels (or hub caps) were about the only difference.

The other identifiable difference from Corsica was louvered-style tail lights. At least until 1991, when the Corsica adopted the same treatment.

I had an interesting experience with the Tempest, long before I knew it existed. Just after Corsica made its debut in late 1987, I spied a Corsica-like mule traveling on a busy Southern California stretch of highway called Beach Boulevard.

My buddies and I used to “cruise Beach” on the weekends and one night out, I saw an unfamiliar, partially camouflaged vehicle. (What it was doing out in Friday-night traffic is beyond me.) I caught up and surmised it to be an upcoming mild Corsica refresh. But when I got even closer, I saw it was wearing Pontiac logos and Tempest badging–and had louvered tail lights. The driver sped up and, maybe because of my unshakeable interest, zigged onto a freeway on-ramp that I couldn’t pull off safely.

It wasn’t until late 1990, when the louvered tail lights were introduced on Corsica for 1991, that I thought I could put that mystery in my head to rest (figuring the mule was badged as a Pontiac as part of the disguise). However, another fifteen or so years later, thanks to the internet, I learned Pontiac did in fact sell a unique version of the L-body sedan up north. Thus, the car I saw was more than likely a Canadian-spec Pontiac Tempest.

Now back to the car in the picture. A two-door L-body Tempest was apparently never produced for our buddies in Canada (somebody correct me please, if I’m wrong), so this surreptitious image may or may not have been of a test car intended to be a Tempest coupe variant for the Canadian market.

(Click the thumbnail below to see the spy image in higher detail. File size is 90k.)

September 1986 Pontiac Tempest spy pic

September 1986 Pontiac Tempest spy pic (1100x445)

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