In the early 1960s, American automakers pulled out all of the stops in order to get an advantage over their competitors. This included cramming huge engines into compact cars, the development of overhead cam V8s, and even replacing whole body panels with aluminum replacements in an effort to shed weight.
But arguably one of the most creative and dangerous strategies for racing came out of GM’s own Pontiac division. Led by John DeLorean, Pontiac engineers developed the “swiss cheese” frame for a select few Pontiac Catalina race cars.
These were far from the only modifications though. DeLorean’s team wanted to shed as much weight as possible, and so they ditched things like the front anti-roll bar and use lighter-gauge aluminum for the body panels. The engineers even made use of aluminum headers, shedding precious weight from the cast-iron beasts the Catalina’s normally used.
But the swiss-cheese frame, with engineers drilling over 100 holes in the frame of the Catalina, was by far the most reckless attempt at saving weight. All told, the engineers dropped about 425 pounds from the Catalina’s 3,700 pound curb weight. Combined with a 421 cubic-inch Super Duty V8 engine making around 410 horsepower, these were some fast and light (for the time) muscle cars.
Just 14 of these “swiss cheese” Pontiacs were ever made, and they were supposedly good for running 12’s in the quarter-mile. Mickey Thompson even owned one, and while the car going up for auction never belonged to Thompson, it is still expected to bring a pretty penny at the Russo & Steele auction in January of 2013.