1959 Pontiac Bonneville | Hemmings Motor News

29 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 1959 Pontiac Bonneville | Hemmings Motor News
Pontiac Bonneville

Collectors recognize 1959 as the that Pontiac turned the

Buyer’s Guide from Motor News

Pontiac was shining star in 1959 and the that set the brand apart in the era are still dazzling collectors

In looks and behavior, the Pontiac, in a of speaking has moved into a neighborhood, Popular Science of the all-new 1959 models. no longer merely an older, brother of the Chevrolet.

Wide was a new buzzword cooked up by Pontiac’s agency to draw attention to the big broad stance. The old 347-cu.in. and engines were out, in of the now-legendary 389–the only available, but in six different horsepower Pontiac’s signature split made its debut in 1959, the familiar silver streaks and ornaments were gone.

The lineup was reworked as well, for reflecting Pontiac’s new direction: The was now the entry-level car, replacing the the Super Chief was gone and the Chief Custom was renamed Chief; the Safari wagon was to the Bonneville series and Bonneville a four-door Vista hardtop; convertibles were offered in the and Bonneville lines.

In all, were 14 styles, ranging the Catalina two-door sport the value leader at $2,633, all the way up to the Bonneville Custom Safari which started at $3,532. there, you could start on the options: Circ-L-Aire Conditioning control; Sportable Transistor a radio that could be from the dash to serve as a radio; power windows; tinted glass; six-way seats; and Wonder Touch brakes.

The buying public responded to the snapping up 382,940 Pontiacs in compared to 216,982 in 1958. The market share moved up a point, and the company went sixth to fourth place in the Pontiac’s ascendance as GM’s performance brand through the

This was a complete turnaround where Pontiac was in the years following WWII. In the post-war Pontiac picked up where the left off before the war–building reliable cars with straight-six and straight-eight engines, were anything but exciting. needed to change, and Pontiac developing V-8 engines in 1949, but produce a car with a V-8 until

In 1956, Semon E. Bunkie son of former GM president William S. and an engineer, took the helm as general manager. Faced the challenge of remaking the company’s image, he ordered the signature streaks 86’ed for 1957 and the aid of a group of forward-thinking enthusiasts who become synonymous with the new image: engineers E.M. Estes and John Z. DeLorean, as as ad man Jim Wangers.

Midway through ’56, carburetors and aggressive camshafts up sleepy Pontiacs, and soon the joined the rest of Detroit on the tracks and drag strips of

The tipping point was 1959, and the was leading the charge. Compared to the somewhat confusing, over-the-top the Bonneville looked contemporary and clean.

The car’s look greatly from the decision to the wheels further outboard the rest of GM’s full-size cars. While new wide-bodied seemed to have their sunk deep inside the Wide Track Pontiacs right from all angles. The too, responded enthusiastically.

Track is the outstanding automotive of the year. We firmly believe in moving the wheels farther to develop the widest stance of any car, Pontiac has created an new sense of balance of handling

The Wide Track era had begun, and the would resonate with buyers until the division producing cars at the end of 2009. today treasure 1959 though the cars don’t the widespread popularity of Chevrolet’s cars. What that to buyers is that you might Bonnevilles priced slightly than similarly equipped even though they are superior cars to drive.

Restoring a Pontiac of this can be slightly more expensive and difficult than restoring a as the aftermarket support isn’t as and commercial parts vendors in Pontiac full-size car parts as plentiful. None of this is a bad thing, though, especially if you the thought of owning and driving a car.

Full-size GM cars of vintage tend to rust in the front fenders, lower of the door skins, rocker and around the rear wheel The floor pans and trunk are also susceptible to rust. panels specific to full-size Pontiacs are available from the

At one time, patch panels for were being produced, but as of writing we had difficulty finding manufacturing them. (We did, find some leftover available for sale on the internet.) panels are being manufactured, as are floor repair panels.

fenders, doors, quarter bumpers and trim will all to be hunted up used.

If you’re a project, paying a little for a car with a rust-free body and its intact would pay dividends the road.

Full-size Pontiacs on an X-frame chassis with springs at all four corners. and Bonneville Custom Safaris on a 122-inch wheelbase, while Chiefs and Bonnevilles (except rode on a 124-inch wheelbase. The width up front was 63.72 and 64 inches in the rear. (By comparison, the of the 1958 Pontiacs was about 59 wide.) A Saginaw steering box was issue across the board; power assist was provided by a hydraulic ram attached to the steering

As an option, Pontiac offered its Air suspension with four cylindrical air chambers, a high-pressure air compressor, and levelizer valves. The proved troublesome, however, and were replaced with springs.

Full-size Pontiacs 11-inch front and rear brakes with a single master cylinder and optional assist.

Everything you need to your 1959 Pontiac handle and stop as good as new is in many cases from corner parts store. work on a post-war GM car is approachable for the as well.

Pontiac Bonneville

Engine and Drivetrain

were several different versions of the 389 offered in 1959 the two racing versions) ranging 215hp to 315hp. All were on the same short-… design, a cast-iron block and cast-iron but used different camshafts, setups and compression ratios to increasing levels of power. On the end was the base Tempest 420-E a two-barrel carburetor and 8.6:1 conspiring to make 215hp.

Pontiacs with this also used a prairie-tackling final drive ratio. writer Tom McCahill made a dash in a Catalina equipped this powertrain and averaged MPG over 60.72 hours and miles of driving.

One step up the economy engine was the 245hp standard on the Catalina and Star (with manual transmission); by the 260hp engine standard on the (with manual transmission); the engine used in the Catalina and Chief with an automatic the 300hp four-barrel engine in the Bonneville (with Hydra-Matic) and on others. Finally, at the top of the performance for regular production Pontiacs was the Tri-Power engine.

To further up the over Chevrolet’s two-speed transmission, Pontiac offered the Hydra-Matic as an option over the three-speed-manual synchromesh. The standard ratio with the three-speed was 3.23:1. With the Hydra-Matic, the rear-axle ratio was a 3.08:1 with the Tempest 420-E).

engine and drivetrain parts difficult to find, and the components are serviced. Properly set-up and the engines, transmissions and rear will withstand untold and miles of driving.


hip room and headroom were during the design of the ’59 so even full-figured drivers feel cramped behind the Though the number of available was down overall from the prior, Pontiac drivers felt like they roughing it: Power windows, a adjustable seat, tinted a removable Sportable Transistor and air conditioning were all available.

Upholstery included Morrokide with nylon pattern three-tone Morrokide, two-tone and Morrokide with Jacquard nylon faced cloth. are companies who specialize in interior for Pontiacs and sell seat kits for Bonnevilles and others. are also companies that headliners, carpet kits and OEM upholstery by the yard.

The Pontiac Services etc. and Services sections of Hemmings are good to begin looking for interior if you’re embarking on a restoration.

1959 Pontiacs might not the widespread popularity of their stablemates from Chevrolet, definitely make as bold a statement today as they did new. Though 1959 are less commonly seen and commonly restored than (and Fords), fans of luxury performance division are no enthusiastic about their cars, ensuring the future of post-war Pontiacs.


Brake drum — $99

overhaul kit — $395

Pontiac Bonneville
Pontiac Bonneville
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