Sunday, January 20, 2013

1957 Pontiac Chieftain 4-door Sedan

"Think Big . . . you can afford to!"

Pontiac's catalog claim reflects perfectly the contemporary "zeitgeist": in Cuba, perhaps even more than in the U.S., the prospering middle class demanded flashy new cars, and easy credits were readily available. Pontiac dealers had the backup of GMs financing institutions, and selling just one more car was often more important than a customer's financial soundness. The number of cars on the island increased rapidly in the 50s: after the first automobile arrived in Cuba in 1902, it took five decades until the magic mark of 100,000 cars on Cuban roads was surpassed in 1952. Just five years later, this number had doubled, with 200,000 registered cars in 1957. For many cuban citizens, the car had become an indispensable part of their lifestyle.

Traditionally being the choice of the rather stuffy person, Pontiac was for many years merely a better appointed version of the Chevrolets, but the brand made an impressive turnaround under new management since 1956. New general manager Semon "Bunkie" Knudsen was a real petrolhead, and fostered the move towards power and speed. Even if most 1957 Pontiacs didn't look mean, they were by all means powerful cars. And next year, already, Pontiac's look should finally match Pontiac's grunt.

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