The Pontiac Tempest was a contemporary of the Corvair, a car that owed its existence to the success of the Volkswagen Beetle. Although each of GM's divisions produced their own version of this- new to GM- compact car, Oldsmobile and Buick went with the standard front engine, rear drive layout, but Pontiac chose to go with a novel layout, led by an engineer whose name may be familiar, John Z. Delorean. The powertrain was front engine but used a rear transaxle borrowed from the Corvair. Instead of a driveshaft the two were coupled with a 5'8" diameter flexible steel shaft forced into an arc to pass below the floor. This shaft was enclosed in a torque tube that connected the engine to the transaxle.
The engine was also an innovative new design developed as one 4 cylinder bank of the existing 389 V8. A production block was designed which retained the 45 degree slant as well as more than half of the engine internals.
The car was produced from 1961 to 1963. Although the rope shaft gave no problems, in 1964 the car was redesigned, reverting to the standard powertrain layout.