Powers has enjoyed Pontiac Catalina for 30 years

Published 12:55 pm Saturday, November 29, 2008

By Staff
Chocowinity man holds on to classic family car
Lifestyles &Features Editor
CHOCOWINITY — For decades, Jesse Powers Jr. was a fixture at the Belk-Tyler store in Washington. And for a good bit of that time, his signature 1967 Pontiac Catalina got him safely to and from work.
Powers contracted Charlie Moore of Whichards Beach Road to rebuild the engine at least 10 years ago and it’s purred like a kitten ever since.
As for the interior, Powers was able to locate original patterned seat covers on the internet five years ago. A couple of interesting accessories of the interior is the high beam indicator, which features an Indian head, and the tilt steering wheel, which wasn’t commonplace at the time.
Powers bought the car in 1968 from Moore Motor Company in Washington. He paid around $2,500 for the second hand automobile, which had been used as a rental car at the Raleigh-Durham Airport for a year. Powers recalled that when he spotted the Pontiac on the car lot he told the salesman he’d take it if they would change the paint color.
In fact, the only substantial change made to the automobile is its color. Originally blue, Powers requested that it be repainted white.
The car now has the rare, eight-lug stainless rims that were original to the car when it rolled off the assembly line. Those rims were not in place when Powers purchased the Pontiac, but he scoured junkyards for a set and had those factory wheels reinstalled on the car about 12 to 15 years ago. In fact, he’s managed to squirrel away a spare set in his attic in case one is damaged.
Over the years, Powers has had to replace the clock and the radio. Since it is a vintage car, it doesn’t require a yearly inspection and Powers has installed an original 1967 license plate.
Aside from the thrill of owning a piece of the past, Powers said the car holds a lot of sentimental value for him.
There were a few ground rules in the beginning. For instance, he didn’t allow eating or drinking in the car when he first bought it. Later, the Powers family would stop at the Dairy Queen in Havelock for a cold treat while on the way back home from a vacation at the beach.
The Pontiac isn’t Powers’ main mode of transportation now, but he has driven it as far as Wilmington in recent years, where he displayed it in a classic car show. He estimates it got around 25 miles to the gallon on the highway on that trip. He’s also taken it to shows in Greenville and Kinston.
But while he’s definitely attached to the car, he hasn’t taken it to the level that some classic rides enthusiasts have.
(An interest in classic cars run in the Powers family. Jesse Powers III, the proud owner of a 1970 Grand Prix, will be featured in Sunday’s edition of the Washington Daily News.)