Sunday, November 4, 2012

1956 Pontiac 870 Four-door Sedan

"Wheeling this big beauty down the road you're in command of a very special kind of performance — performance reserved exclusively for the pleasure of Pontiac owners! Why so special? Well, first of all, under that broad, gleaming hood there's the industry's most advanced high-torque, high-compression engine — the brilliant new 227-h.p. Strato-Streak V-8. Most cars would be satisfied to stop right there — but not Pontiac! A new transmission was developed to refine all that power — and refined it is, with the oil-smooth Strato-Flight Hydra-Matic*, tailor-made for Strato-Streak power — and nothing else! The result? America's newest, smoothest, most modern performance team and the greatest 'go' on wheels!"

This Pontiac 870 from Sancti Spiritus wears a proper warpaint, perfectly matching the powerful image that Pontiac's advertisement liked to associate with the 1956 Pontiacs.

When petrolhead Semon E. Knudsen became boss of GM's Pontiac division in 1956, he swiftly began to trim the brand towards more sportiness and performance. Naturally, developing new cars takes quite a while, and thus, the Pontiacs for 1956 remained on steady course with their glitzy, ornamental styling. Also the engines, completely renewed in 1955 anyway, just gained some horses. But you can sense the upcoming change already in Pontiac's advertisement: when you compare the fashion-talk of the 1955 ads with the performance-talk in 1956, you wouldn't imagine that they describe essentially the same cars. Incidentally, Pontiac even modified the naming of their lineup: except the top-of-the-line "Star Chief", all models briefly lost their indian designation in 1956. The 1955 "Chieftain 870", for instance, now was simply called the "870".

The street machines to match the bold advertisement claims wouldn't arrive before 1958, but a limited fuel-injected, high-performance "Bonneville" series, and the removal of Pontiac's signature "Silver Streak" chrome stripes in 1957 were clearly hinting at the things to come.

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