Friday, November 27, 2009

1957 Pontiac Chieftain 4-door Sedan

"Everywhere you go these days, Pontiac's got the spotlight all to itself! Could be the fresh, zestful colors. Maybe it's mainly the clean, natural lines, so refreshingly free of frills and flairs. Or perhaps it's the way Pontiac translates that 'go-ahead' look into spirited action! Whatever it is, you should see this husky honey close up: then, if you're game for an eye-opener, take over the wheel!"

This Pontiac Chieftain from Camag├╝ey in central Cuba might look quite unspectacular, but it marks an important step in Pontiac's transition from the old man's solid choice to the young racedriver's icon. After the appointment of petrolhead Semon "Bunkie" Knudsen as general manager of Pontiac in 1956, two fundamental decisions were made to change Pontiac's image: appearance and horsepower.

Since 1935, Pontiacs had been adorned with the signature "Silver Streak" chrome stripes on the hood. In 1957, these adornments disappeared, and although still largely sharing GM's "A-Body" with Chevrolet, the cars looked leaner and cleaner now with only modest tailfins and a new "Star Flight" side-trim.

The second, and more important advance was "horsepower": Already for 1955, Pontiac had introduced a new "Strato Streak" V8 engine. In 1957, "Bunkie" Knudsen directed to actively sponsor american race-drivers, and introduced the "Bonneville", with 310 h.p. a really hot performance car, which should lure the car enthusiasts into Pontiac's showrooms. Although not many left the dealerships with the Bonneville, the sales of the base model Chieftain raised notably, and Knudsen's calculation paid off.

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