In a Test Tube
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.
While 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.
For 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.)