Pontiac’s Prototypes

1977 Pontiac Phantom

“Driving
Excitement ?

Sure……

I’ve always
had a
soft spot
in my
driving heart
(head)
for
Pontiacs..

1988 Pontiac Pursuit

… to me,
as a kid
growing up
in the 1960’s,
the “Wide
Track Sporty Pontiac”
was the image
of what an automobile
should be and would
represent in the future.

Fun, style, handling,
and power.

1963 Pontiac Scorpion XP-758

No matter how
hard GM seemed
to try to wash
out the
distinctive
qualities of
the brand
over the years,
Pontiacs always
looked pretty
much LIKE a
Pontiac.

1959 Pontiac El-Tigre XP-92

The marque
was started
in 1926 as a
General Motors
stable mate to
a car make
called the
“Oakland”
(discontinued
in 1931) and was
outselling it within
months of it’s
introduction.

1959 El Catalina

Until the
mid-1950’s,
Pontiac wasn’t
really known
for it’s good
looks or it’s
performance,
necessarily…

1970’s Pontiac Banshee XP-833

It was simply
known
as a rugged,
dependable
and relatively
inexpensive car.

1956 changed
all of that-
along with
marketing
strategies,
lead engineers,
and even
a new general manager.

1956 Firebird II

Soon, a new 1957
Bonneville was selling
for more than a Cadillac –

– and their old fashioned
stodgy image was changed
almost overnight into
” America’s Number
One Road Car “.

And Pontiac designers
continued to set this
tone, well into
the early 1970’s.

1990 Pontiac Sunfire

That new emphasis
on style and engineering
meant the development
of several prototypes
to keep ahead
of coming trends —

— so, today’s post
includes several of
Pontiac’s most cutting
edge designs from that
prolific period .

!!! HOY !!!

1956 Pontiac Club De Mer

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The 1964 Ducati Apollo

ducati-apollo

You might consider
yourself an expert vintage motorcycle aficionado,
and still,
you may not
recognize this sled….

………….. if not,
I quite understand.

You see, this Ducati, developed
to directly compete with Harley Davidson,
especially in the United States market,
never made it into mass production.

And you’ll probably just
love the reason why.

This bike– the
full name of Image result for 1964 ducati apollo berliner
which was the
“1964 Ducati Berliner
1260 Apollo
“-
– packed a 76 cubic inch (1250cc)
90 degree V-4 punch—

and it would actually accelerate
faster than it’s tires would tolerate…..

Yep…
to over 120 mph

…… at a time when motorcycle
tires weren’t sturdy enough to
take speeds over 90.

It would literally go
until the wheels fell off.

Two prototypes were manufactured –
– one still survives.

So, if you wanna ride one,
well, you might think
that you’re outta luck.

But I’m told the 2011 Honda
VFR1200 used much of the same
technology, including a powerful
V-4 configuration.

And you can probably find one
of those bikes for about 7 G’s
on Craigslist, sitting under 2
inches of dust in some
yuppie’s garage.

Or, you can go to the Ducati
museum in Kyushu, Japan
where the surviving Apollo is
and beg.

A lot .

apollo_back

The 1962 Ford Cougar 406

One of those cars
that usually flies
below the radar
even for hardcore
auto prototype fans
is this one —

the 1962
Ford Cougar 406.

Sure, Cougar was a
name plate for the
Mercury Division
of Ford, and most
folks certainly
are familiar with the
late 1960’s Mercury
Cougar XR-7

( the 1970 is a personal
favorite of mine…. )

– but before
that happened,
Ford wanted a design
that was meant to
update the Thunderbird-

so, Dean Jeffries went
to work on it.

He came up with
this beauty.

It was unveiled in Chicago
at the 1962 Chicago
Auto Fair —

with some styling cues
reminiscent of high end
European sports cars-

for instance,
the Ford Cougar
featured Mercedes-Benz
300-SL type gull-wing
type doors, and swing-up
headlights on the fenders.

But, it also had plenty
of muscle to spare
with an 8 cylinder
405 horsepower engine.

The prototype was
presented in a bright
candy-apple red,
and needless to say,
it had a huge following
at the fair.

 

The 1954 Pontiac Special

poGreat vintage cars
is one of those subjects
that I always wanted to include in a semi-regularly scheduled blog feature,
but I never really got around to doing it….

Sorta like a cool car of the week kinda thing.

Probably still not gonna be a regular feature, but —

My friends….
here’s our Car of the Week.

The 1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special.

a2This was Pontiac’s first attempt at a two seater—
a purpose built concept car,
designed by Harley Earl,
and hand built out of fiberglass,
with a plexi-glass roof, and ‘gull-wing’ panels.

There were some design elements
that the Bonneville Special
had in common with the 1953 Chevrolet Corvette
released the previous year,
like the recessed headlights molded into the body–

… but the rear of the car,
especially the faux jet-engine spare wheel cover,
looked like nothing that had come before.54bon

This was the “jet-age”,
and Earl used every trick in the book
to get a sleek, aerodynamic look into the cars design.

Powered by a high output in-line 8 cylinder 268 c.i. engine,
( Earl wanted to use Pontiac’s brand new more powerful V-8,
but GM exec’s wanted to keep it a secret until the 1955 model year ),
the car made about 23o horsepower,
and had a top speed of around 110 mph.a1

There were two built,
one in emerald green,
and one in metallic bronze —
— both of which are still extant.

The bronze Special is still in the hands of the original owners.

The emerald green Special sold at auction
for nearly 3 million dollars in 2006.

54-bonnevillespecial

The Story of the 1948 Streamliner

1

How does a car go from one of the most beautiful cars in the world, to JUNK,

— and then, somehow rise phoenix-like
from the desert?

This is the fascinating story of the 1948 Buick Streamliner,
…………..  otherwise known as the ” Norman Timbs Special ” .

This is one of those rare auto stories that will either drive the car nut in you to distraction, or just plain crazy.

SO, you may ask….

How does a car go from one of the most beautiful cars in the world, to JUNK, and somehow rise phoenix-like from the desert?

Well, here’s the story.

In 1948, a mechanical engineer named Norman E. Timbs decided to build a car without all the style extravagances of the time.

You know the kinds of elements I mean.. like bulky fenders, huge bumpers, and sweeping tail fins.

He was looking for something a little more… well, streamlined.

Tibbs had worked on the Blue Crown Specials for the Indy 500…
… he knew the value of lighter weight, more aerodynamically rounded shapes.

The car he came up with — the Buick Streamliner
……… is more a work of ‘art-o-motive’ than automotive —-
— and it is certainly an amazing piece of engineering.

2

It was on the cover of Motor Trend that year, and had several features written about it in Popular Mechanics, Motor Life, etc.

The body alone cost around $8000- and was created by metal-worker Emil Diedt by hand-hammering aluminum around a wooden frame.

The main chassis utilized five inch steel tubes, with a modified 1947 Ford leaf-spring suspension.

The Streamliner’s Buick Inline “Super-8” engine developed about 200 horsepower, and could get the car up to around 120 miles per hour.

One thing you probably noticed from the picture right away — no doors.

The entire back part of the body swung up on hydraulic lifts for access to the rear mounted engine.

When it was finished in about 18 months, it had cost Timbs about $10,000 to build, and he toured it on the show circuit for the next several years.

Now, here is where the pathos in our story comes in.

In 1952, the car was sold to a Jim Davis of Manhattan Beach, California… who would tool around in it for the next several years… even getting a photo spread for it in Motor Life.

After that, history lost track of the car completely.

Well, that is, until it was discovered in a California junk yard out in the desert.

3

In 2002, the Streamliner was sold at auction to Gary Cerveny, who had the car meticulously restored by Custom Auto of Colorado.

It was difficult, and complicated…. not to mention expensive.

But when it was done, the Streamliner looked like her old self.

That car—-
Timb’s Buick Streamliner lovingly restored —
………… then went on to win the Trophy for Best Open Car at the 2010 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance !

And what a sight to see, it is.

What lines, what curves !!

Poetry in motion .

Mmmmmmmmotorcar perfection.

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