Sunday, September 9, 2012

1950 Pontiac Streamliner DeLuxe 4-Door Sedan

"The open road is a bright and wonderful invitation when you're behind the wheel of a new Pontiac – a beauty, a superb performer and a great value!"

This Pontiac Streamliner taxi in front of the busy train station of Moron, home of "El Trompo", is quite a looker. We were immediately intrigued by the complete set of original chrome trim* which nicely contrasts with the car's natural patina. Even the "Silver-Streak" plates at the front fenders are still in their place, quite unusual for a more than sixty year-old workhorse on Cuban roads.

Disappointment, however, when the conversation with the owner came to the inevitable question of "Original motor?": "No, amigo", was the answer, "it's a new Nissan Diesel." The vintage Pontiac, like so many others, needs to run daily to gain money as a collective taxi. And as sad as it might be: when economy and reliability have highest priority, then there's no place for sentiments about the authenticity of a car and its parts.

1950 was the last year Pontiac offered the beautiful Streamliner fastback sedan. This bodystyle became swiftly popular in the 40s as one of the various styling trends that were introduced by Harley Earl and GM Design to leapfrog the rest of the industry. Its most beautiful and refined revision appeared with the fastback version of GM's all-new A-Body for 1949 which was shared between Chevrolet, Pontiac and Oldsmobile. As usual, Chevrolets and Pontiacs were technically quite similar, the latter merely sporting abundant chrome trim and an optional eight cylinder engine to justify the higher price tag. 

Already in 1951, however, the torpedos, as they are being called in Cuba, should disappear from the catalog pages. Only Chevrolet should keep on offering them through 1952, while all other GM divisions, and their customers, embraced another new automotive fashion out of Harley Earls GM Design Studios which rapidly gained a longer-lasting popularity: the "hardtop convertible".

* Remark: attentive readers will spot the taillight cones that resemble the ones of a 1962 Imperial. We don't know how they found their way to the Pontiac, but this certainly would make for an interesting story.

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