Joe Weatherly's 1962 "GILLMAN PONTIAC" Catalina

You think Earnhardt and Gordon have dominated seasons in last several years? Jarrett this year?? Hah! Check out the stats on the little Poncho in the picture above!

Piloted in 1962 by the effervescant "Clown Prince" of racin' at the time, "Little Joe" Weatherly, this car, built and wrenched by the immortal Bud Moore, made 52 starts. Joe and Bud's Gillman Pontiac took the Championship by almost 2400 points (30, 836 to 28,440) over Richard Petty, netting 45 Top Tens, 39 Top Fives, and nine Wins!

Pontiac, beginning in 1960, had become, by 1962, the car to beat in NASCAR, with its slippery little body, and thet big 421SD motor.

Ironically, from a points standpoint, Little Joe repeated in the '63 season, in another Pontiac, again beating out Petty, but this time, he only won three, to Petty's 14(!).

Tragically, Joe was killed in Riverside in '64 in a Mercury Marauder, which had become Bud Moore's car of choice, as Ford plunged into racin' real big, tired of playin' second fiddle to GM and Chrysler. This was the fifth race of the season, in January, just prior to the Daytona 500. Joe went into the infamous Riverside Turn 9 right-hander, the only corner in NASCAR that had a right-hand corner with a concrete wall. Driver restraints such as window netting were not in use back then - the impact didn't seem that bad on the car, but Joe hadn't buckled his helmet, it's said, and his head hit the concrete wall when he came out of the seat. He was killed by the blow... 1964 was a bad year, not only in NASCAR but in other forms of racing as well...

As a fan of this era of racing, the Pontiac was a model I'd always hoped to add to my collection one day. I was pleased when AMT announced their intention to release this historic car, and doubly pleased when Yesterdays indicated they would be doing decals for this car, along with several other '62 NASCAR Pontiacs. Sure enough, early this year, AMT released the all-new kit of the '62 SD421 set up as a street/supersock version. Meantime Yesterday's lived up to their commitment, and a whole fleet of '62's were possible!

So, what does it take to NASCARify an early '60's model? On the exterior, not a lot... proper NASCAR-spec rims and tires, mine were from Replicas and Miniatures of Maryland, hood pins and retainers (R-M again), blank discs for the headlights, and some rear window straps. Paint choice consisted of a dark red (GM truck colour) with black for the striping on the body and hood, and the roof. All paints were Canadian Tire aerosol touchup lacquers. As reported by several other builders, masking and painting the front, to get the nose and bumper filler panel body colour was very time consuming. AMT would have made our lives easier had these been two, or three, separate parts...

NASCAR in those days mostly ran the full complement of chrome, this was added after painting, but before decalling, using Bare-Metal@ foil.

The Yesterday's decals are very accurate, hide the underlying colours effectively, snug down well, and were quite compatible with some light coats of Tamiya TS-13 clear applied for better shine, and to seal the decals. The car is a dead ringer for photos I have found. To increase the value, a full set of decals for a second Moore/Weatherly car - the '64 Marauder - is included on the sheet! Good Idea, Yesterday's!!

To convert the interior to NASCAR spec was much more complex. The rear seat area needed to be covered with sheet panelling, and a period rollcage ('64 Marauder) was added. and the front bench seat was replaced with a simulated period stock bucket seat plus bolster. This was cobbled up by cutting the original front seat in half, then adding the end of the discarded right half onto the left half. Looks pretty convincing! (Another option here would have been to use the original bench seat, with the passenger side back removed, and a bolster put on the right side). Racing guages were installed in the dash, non-racing items such as radios were removed, and full side upholstery was retained. A floorshift and fire extinguisher were mounted on the tranny tunnel, and the interior was complete.

I did not highly detail the engine compartment - the two-carb intake manifold was replaced with a single-carb unit from an '80's AMT Monogram stocker, plug wires were added, and that was about it.

This is a nice model to have on the shelf - especially for those of us who, while still enjoying the current level of competition and technology in NASCAR, also have fond memories of these old brutes from an earlier time in NASCAR's evolution.

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