At least I didn’t wake up from another bad dream. I did wake up with the “Wide Trackin’ Pontiac” commercial jingle in my head, though. An admittedly brief search of the Minion of the Evil Empire (AKA YouTube) did not unearth a commercial with the exact jingle that is still playing in my head, but this will have to do.
The “Wide Track” Pontiacs came into existence with the 1959 model year. From this article by Hemmings:
“At that time, although the body styling was very appealing with the normal tread, the new Pontiac looked like a football player in ballet shoes,” [Pontiac General Manager Bunkie] Knudsen recalled. “Pete [Estes, Chief Engineer] and I moved the wheels out as a styling measure and it looked fantastic. We checked it out and found that the cost to make the change was minimal, so we went ahead and it was well worth it.”
The front track (the distance between the wheels along one axle) was 5 inches wider on the ’59 models than on the ’58s and the rear track was 4 1/2 inches wider. Other changes were adopted in steering, suspension and braking.
Pontiac sales increased by 76 percent in 1959 compared to 1958. The momentum continued until Pontiac became the third-best selling make in the US, behind only Chevrolet and Ford, in 1962 and stayed there all the way through 1969.
Of course, the Pontiac make has now been defunct for a decade. Maybe that’s for the best as the company that made the GTO, the Trans Am and the Wide Track cars might be out of place as an electric vehicle.
Anyway, back to 1959…from Motorious a picture of the top of the line Pontiac model, a Bonneville in Sport Coupe trim:
All 1959 Pontiacs came with the well-known 389 cubic-inch V-8. Apparently, the famous Tri-Power (for three carburetors) setup was available on all models that year. The highest output for this motor was 345 HP/425 LB-FT of torque. I don’t have access to info on how many of the top engine were sold, but I can tell you that 27,769 Bonneville Sport Coupes were produced in 1959 (at a base price of $3,257), which was only about 7 percent of total Pontiac production. The Catalina 4-door sedan was the most popular model with 72,377 units or 19 percent of Pontiac output.
Regular readers know of my affinity for Pontiac and of the significant place it occupies in my automotive history. The only constant in the world is change and virtually nothing is all good or all bad. The changes that ended Pontiac and are pushing us to a future of autonomous electric vehicles are not all good, that’s for sure. By the way, how will the already inadequate US electrical grid handle millions of electric vehicles being charged every day? In the mad rush to EVs no one really seems to be addressing that issue.
I still very much want to own a car from a defunct American make. While I think and write about the Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk often, a Pontiac from the early 1960s is a strong contender. If only I were in a position to make this happen. In actuality, the biggest obstacle is sheer lack of space for another car. Oh well, who knows what the future holds?
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PS, please wish my wonderful wife and me good luck for tomorrow as I embark on getting vaccinated against the damn virus while fervently hoping that she will be vaccinated as well.