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writing on frame 1959 pontiac bonneville


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hello, i know someone in france who restores a 1959 pontiac bonneville sports coupe.
and by scraping the chassis to prepare it for sanding, he discovered it's white writing under the original black paint of the chassis.
do you know what it is writing ?
thank you
 
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As a machinist toolmaker in Detroit, I've worked in and around several auto plants. It's amazing how much improvisation goes in to the manufacturing process. These notes are probably from the plant, the word "fixture" is telling, the manufacturers use many fixtures in the process. What it means exactly? Who knows. My guess is this frame was used in some sort of proving out phase of some tooling and they were recording the results i.e. noting which chassis came off what fixture and how it fitted up with the rest of components on down the line.

 

Looks like it says "Deck on something" Deck is a common term for bringing the part to the line. The bars you see in videos with chains to lift various components, generally engines are called "Decking bars".

 

There are hand built prototype vehicles generally called "A-bodies" we toolmakers occasionally use for reference and have markings all over them, but those vehicles are never completed and are eventually scrapped.

 

It is amazing how much they throw away. Engines especially, once they've been pulled out of the system, they will never go back on the line for fear of contamination. I worked at one place where we designed and built shipping racks for all types of vehicle components, they used to send us 20 or 30 brand new engines that we used for reference and testing and then we were instructed to destroy them with torches and sledge hammers. Big V-8 diesels with turbo chargers, brand new, never ran, destroyed. It's their property to do with as they see fit. We did as instructed for fear of losing their contract, everyone knew that trying to take any of that was theft and immediate dismissal.

 

-Ron

 

 

Edited by Locomobile (see edit history)
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5 hours ago, Locomobile said:

As a machinist toolmaker in Detroit, I've worked in and around several auto plants. It's amazing how much improvisation goes in to the manufacturing process. These notes are probably from the plant, the word "fixture" is telling, the manufacturers use many fixtures in the process. What it means exactly? Who knows. My guess is this frame was used in some sort of proving out phase of some tooling and they were recording the results i.e. noting which chassis came off what fixture and how it fitted up with the rest of components on down the line.

 

Looks like it says "Deck on something" Deck is a common term for bringing the part to the line. The bars you see in videos with chains to lift various components, generally engines are called "Decking bars".

 

There are hand built prototype vehicles generally called "A-bodies" we toolmakers occasionally use for reference and have markings all over them, but those vehicles are never completed and are eventually scrapped.

 

It is amazing how much they throw away. Engines especially, once they've been pulled out of the system, they will never go back on the line for fear of contamination. I worked at one place where we designed and built shipping racks for all types of vehicle components, they used to send us 20 or 30 brand new engines that we used for reference and testing and then we were instructed to destroy them with torches and sledge hammers. Big V-8 diesels with turbo chargers, brand new, never ran, destroyed. It's their property to do with as they see fit. We did as instructed for fear of losing their contract, everyone knew that trying to take any of that was theft and immediate dismissal. 

 

-Ron

 

 

 

Hello, thank you very much for your reply and information.
We can see written "South", what could that be ?
It's a shame that you were forced to throw the pieces (engine, ...), we will need it now.
in which year did you work in the assembly lines ?
Thanks again :) 
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Not sure why they used the term "South", maybe it meant south building or south end of the building?? Maybe there were two frame fixtures and that was the 13th body off of the south fixture? Who knows. Tell your friend that is a nice looking car (In French of course :) )

 

I never worked on the assembly lines assembling cars, we couldn't because of the unions, not even one part :), I designed and built assembly tools and fixtures for the lines, I worked for outside shops/contractors. 1959 was before my time, I worked in the plants off and on from about 1978 to about 2010.

 

-Ron

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Used to find lotsa good stuff at the Swartz Creek junkyard, things that GM threw away and assumed destroyed (but often wasn't). Of course I'm talking about the early '70s.

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23 minutes ago, padgett said:

Used to find lotsa good stuff at the Swartz Creek junkyard, things that GM threw away and assumed destroyed (but often wasn't). Of course I'm talking about the early '70s.

 Yep, I know of more than one occasion where a part was re routed on it's way to the scrapyard. :) No further comment. 

 

There was one guy they caught, he was selling brand new pickup truck bodies and beds on Craigslist. One better, at one assembly plant, they drove off the line to a holding lot, some cars weren't making it to the lot. They caught those guys, they were being taken to a chop shop to part out.

 

-Ron

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5 hours ago, John348 said:

It seems odd that some of the markings are over both painted and rusted surfaces,,, just odd

 

It does look like that, but who knows how and why they were put on there. Those terms are definitely used in the assembly plants, not sure why a junkyard would be using the terms "fixture" and "deck", when both are used during assembly. It may have been painted, then written on, then painted over again?? If it's grease pencil, that holds up pretty well. And where there is more rust, the letters are gone.

 

-Ron

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8 hours ago, Locomobile said:

Not sure why they used the term "South", maybe it meant south building or south end of the building?? Maybe there were two frame fixtures and that was the 13th body off of the south fixture? Who knows. Tell your friend that is a nice looking car (In French of course :) )

 

I never worked on the assembly lines assembling cars, we couldn't because of the unions, not even one part :), I designed and built assembly tools and fixtures for the lines, I worked for outside shops/contractors. 1959 was before my time, I worked in the plants off and on from about 1978 to about 2010.

 

-Ron

 

thank you very much, i would say :) 
so the words "south" was probably for a building or place of manufacture :) 
My friend thanks you very much for your help :) 
it must be very interresting to work where you are, it was tools for American car brands? (Buick, Cadillac, Lincoln, Chevy, ...)
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Is this car a very early production example?

 

What is the serial number?   Also the information from the body plate. All of this will determine which plant it came from.

 

Is the original frame number stamped on the frame somewhere?  It should match the car's serial number.

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GM outsourced the frames, I know that Budd and Baumadeir, were two of the contractors.(both of whom built rail road cars as well) I would safely guess that there had to more then the two contractors, but I don't know for sure. I had seen markings on Chevrolet frames of this era but nothing to this extent. I am curious if it is a low body number or low VIN number indicating that it was an early production car  

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Buick in '59 used Parrish Pressed Steel & A O Smith for frames.
Budd I know but 'Baumadier' is a new one to me.
I took the body off my B-59 - the frame number wasn't anywhere close to the VIN and I know the car was never rebodied.

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2 minutes ago, WQ59B said:

Buick in '59 used Parrish Pressed Steel & A O Smith for frames.
Budd I know but 'Baumadier' is a new one to me.
I took the body off my B-59 - the frame number wasn't anywhere close to the VIN and I know the car was never rebodied.

 

I have done or been involved in 8 frame off restoration on 59-62 Chevrolet/s and only found one frame with a VIN spray painted on it with a stencil, other then that just grease pencil marks that seemed to be more related to the manufacturing of the frame then the actual assembly of the car, and  nothing to the extent on the Pontiac shown in the thread, It is pretty cool to see  

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I don't if a VIN was on my frame - never saw anything readable. Parrish stamped their info tho, along with the month/day/year of manufacture.
I suspect the 6-digit number was 'theirs', not anything to do with Buick.

I've read plenty of '60s (mostly musclecar) folk talking about 2nd & 3rd / hidden VINs... doesn't at all seem to be the case circa 1960 @ GM. No stamped frame VIN, nothing under the heater box, etc.

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44 minutes ago, WQ59B said:

I don't if a VIN was on my frame - never saw anything readable. Parrish stamped their info tho, along with the month/day/year of manufacture.
I suspect the 6-digit number was 'theirs', not anything to do with Buick.

I've read plenty of '60s (mostly musclecar) folk talking about 2nd & 3rd / hidden VINs... doesn't at all seem to be the case circa 1960 @ GM. No stamped frame VIN, nothing under the heater box, etc.

 

Good points WQ59B

 

I do know Chevy did not start stamping the last 6 of the VIN on the engine on the full size cars until 1962, (Corvettes I am not sure but I think it was 1961) and that was only on the hi-perf 327 (300 HP) and all of the 409's I doubt that they were stamping VIN's on frames. The one that I had seen that was stenciled was painted upside down, indicating that the frame was not on the car yet, done pre-assembly. 

 

It is almost beyond comprehension the amount of frames and the logistics of getting them all over the country. I am guessing but GM had to have built well over 2 million cars in 1959, I always found it fascinating how these things all come together 

 

I love this stuff! My favorite cars are the GM car from 1959-1960  

Edited by John348 (see edit history)
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And Pontiac didn't start last-6 VIN stamping their blocks until '67.
Fascinating how autonomous things were in GM in pre-1970 times. The idea that -for example- Buick would SELL materials to Olds boggles today's mind.

I would assume the frame vendors were also placed around the country; it would have to be more cost effective -once a contract for a few 10s of millions of frames was signed- to build a number of plants and cut down on shipping, no?

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To my knowledge and memory, Ford started using secondary VIN's stamped in some of the sheet metal parts around 1993-4, I ground some of the punches for the dot matrix stamping fixture they used, I was under the impression it was a new thing. They had a very shallow included angle like 150°. They don't really go by numbers on parts anymore, it's all barcode tags and scanners.

 

1 hour ago, John348 said:

I always found it fascinating how these things all come together  

 

Quite often, it doesn't. They have approximately two years to prepare for new vehicle launch, and it is amazing how many tools they lack and how many things need to be improvised, done by hand etc in the interim to get the line moving. That is where myself and other would come in, their toolmakers had tried to resolve issues and gave up and then we had to design workable ergonomic solutions. it was fun work, but it was annoying dealing with management (not much), the contractors and especially the unions, our tools would typically eliminate people on the line and they fought us tooth and nail. The union people didn't want us there at all, but either we fixed the problem or it didn't get fixed. I don't miss it. One trick I used to use, I would intentionally mount handles on tooling in the wrong position and then ask the operators where they thought they would be better placed, once they had input in to the tool, effected change and it was better, they never had another complaint about it. They loved it. :)

 

1 hour ago, WQ59B said:

I would assume the frame vendors were also placed around the country

 

I was never involved much in supply chain process, but yes there are companies all over the US that build components. That is why I'm always aghast when someone makes the comment "oh GM could go under and our country wouldn't even notice it" That would literally crash our economy, I have no doubt about it, it would be the loss of possibly millions of jobs.

 

-Ron

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20 hours ago, WQ59B said:

And Pontiac didn't start last-6 VIN stamping their blocks until '67.
Fascinating how autonomous things were in GM in pre-1970 times. The idea that -for example- Buick would SELL materials to Olds boggles today's mind.

I would assume the frame vendors were also placed around the country; it would have to be more cost effective -once a contract for a few 10s of millions of frames was signed- to build a number of plants and cut down on shipping, no?

 

That while business of 'matching numbers' is a real can of worms, and means different things to different people. I think to many it simply means that it has the correct type of parts in it.

 

Regarding Pontiac I don't the real story but I do know my 1965 Bonneville is an early production car - built at Southgate, Ca - in the first week of production. It serial number is 824 but the engine is 821 - unless the 1 is a 4 that was not stamped properly. The body number is 143, which I presume is the 143rd  four door Vista body off the line.

 

An acquaintance has a 1957 Chevrolet 210 built in one of the Canadian plants. It is a six cylinder, three -on-the-tree manual and has right hand drive. The body number is 1 - which I presume is the first four door sedan body off the line. The serial number is 80, so I guess they ran off a few hardtops and convertibles first.  

a.jpg

b.jpg

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4 hours ago, nzcarnerd said:

Regarding Pontiac I don't the real story but I do know my 1965 Bonneville is an early production car - built at Southgate, Ca - in the first week of production. It serial number is 824 but the engine is 821 - unless the 1 is a 4 that was not stamped properly. The body number is 143, which I presume is the 143rd  four door Vista body off the line.

'143' is a Fisher Body number, not a Pontiac Assembly number. I am not sure if it was tallied by series/body style, or how exactly. I suspect it was according to model/style, because my '64 GP has a VIN numeric in the 36xxx range, but the body number is in the 10xxx range. Most collectors/ number-crunchers don't pay much heed to Fisher #s.

I was somewhat incorrect above; Pontiac had the exact VIN stamped in engine blocks in '63 & earlier, but in '64-66 there's no VIN linking. In '67, they got a different numbering system- with a '2' for Pontiac, the model year, the plant code, and then the 6-digit numerical portion of the VIN. It's the '64-66 Pontiacers that are out of luck.

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2 hours ago, sebastienbuick said:
Hello, here are three pictures of the Pontiac.
532032 it is the GM reference of the frame
the car was built in LINDEN
 
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1903200499_22.jpg.5ac6146b0663ee8191a29e07a44373941.jpg.da6f1f52d9977121b4494244a67c09f7.jpg
 
719893360_77.jpg.94b420e2effca485fecf4e3441c4f58d1.jpg.548d34230cfccbaa9f14e8806b01c55e.jpg
 
Thank you very much :) 

Next to the left of the bottom picture indicated above^ a rare S/O tag could also be on a 59 Pontiac. A S/O tag is a Special order tag that tell factory personnel what special parts not standard or even production optioned a car might get.

 For example my Dads 59 Catalina had a 4 bolt main 389 tri-power engine  that was hand balanced and built in the Pontiac tool room. Most of those engines went to NASCAR teams or drag racing teams. Also the Catalina was built with a leather tri tone Bonneville interior. Another example would be Harley Earl's wife's 1959 Pontiac Catalina. A Catalina with a pink paint job, a Bonneville interior and rear Bonneville taillamps. 

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On ‎6‎/‎25‎/‎2019 at 1:07 PM, sebastienbuick said:
Hello, here are three pictures of the Pontiac.
532032 it is the GM reference of the frame
the car was built in LINDEN
 
781866661_20f.jpg.6ea9c781a3a3f109771dad8cd2edc4831.thumb.jpg.dabecc8b9f66e6939abdfe7afa2582d9.jpg
 
1903200499_22.jpg.5ac6146b0663ee8191a29e07a44373941.jpg.da6f1f52d9977121b4494244a67c09f7.jpg
 
719893360_77.jpg.94b420e2effca485fecf4e3441c4f58d1.jpg.548d34230cfccbaa9f14e8806b01c55e.jpg
 
Thank you very much :) 

 

OK sebastienbuick, here is some data for you:

 

VIN# 859L1455

8=Pontiac Model 28 Long Wheelbase (Bonneville and Star Chief)

59=1959

L=Linden NJ Assembly Plant

1455=the 455th Pontiac built at the Linden plant (numbers started at 1001)

 

FISHER BODY

STYLE=59-2837           1959 Bonneville (28) 2dr Hardtop Coupe (37)

BODY=BL 166              Fisher Body Linden Plant, the 166th Model 2837 body produced at that plant

TRIM=276                    Tri-tone blue vinyl interior

PAINT=SC                   Concord Blue Body & Wheels, Cameo Ivory Roof

ACC=C                         C (sorry I don’t have that code data)

 

FRAME

PARISH         Frame manufacturer

532032          Pontiac Division frame part number BUT NOTE this number is for a long wheelbase (Star Chief) sedan.  A model 28 Bonneville hardtop frame is listed as # 532520.  

1027581        Probably a Parish serial number

 

So this part number question and your markings make me think that frame must have had to be modified at the plant to fit a hardtop rather than a sedan (traditionally a hardtop would have more braces and other reinforcements than a sedan).  However that higher part # 532520 means that number was assigned after start of production.  It is possible (my speculation) that the sedan frame was originally specified to be used on hardtops and it was determined that changes were required sufficient to issue a different part number.  It is possible the frame may have been swapped later in the car's life but I doubt it unless you have found evidence of damage or tampering.

 

Note that the VIN and body numbers are very early production, probably the second or third week which means there was probably still some refitting going on (working the bugs out).  The Linden assembly plant also produced Olds and Buicks so Pontiac at that time represented 30% or less of their production.  Also they were dealing with more different models than the Pontiac “home” plant that only built Pontiacs so they may have done more crayon marks to identify a Pontiac part from a Buick or Olds.  Very interesting to see, thanks for posting, hope this helps you,

 

Todd C

1957 Pontiac Oakland Club Technical Advisor      

Edited by poci1957 (see edit history)
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Is there any indication that the frame was ever in an accident?  Could those markings have been from a technician who was attempting to straighten the frame?

 

North, South, East and West are often used by gantry crane operators to describe the direction to move the crane.  They could be references to the direction the bending forces were being applied on the frame jig.

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46 minutes ago, poci1957 said:

 

OK sebastienbuick, here is some data for you:

 

VIN# 859L1455

8=Pontiac Model 28 Long Wheelbase (Bonneville and Star Chief)

59=1959

L=Linden NJ Assembly Plant

1455=the 455th Pontiac Model 28 built at the Linden plant (numbers started at 1001)

 

FISHER BODY

STYLE=59-2837           1959 Bonneville (28) 2dr Hardtop Coupe (37)

BODY=BL 166              Fisher Body Linden Plant, the 166th Model 2837 body produced at that plant

TRIM=276                    Tri-tone blue vinyl interior

PAINT=SC                   Concord Blue Body & Wheels, Cameo Ivory Roof

ACC=C                         C (sorry I don’t have that code data)

 

FRAME

PARISH         Frame manufacturer

532032          Pontiac Division frame part number BUT NOTE this number is for a long wheelbase (Star Chief) sedan.  A model 28 Bonneville hardtop frame is listed as # 532520.  

1027581        Probably a Parish serial number

 

So this part number question and your markings make me think that frame must have had to be modified at the plant to fit a hardtop rather than a sedan (traditionally a hardtop would have more braces and other reinforcements than a sedan).  However that higher part # 532520 means that number was assigned after start of production.  It is possible (my speculation) that the sedan frame was originally specified to be used on hardtops and it was determined that changes were required sufficient to issue a different part number.  It is possible the frame may have been swapped later in the car's life but I doubt it unless you have found evidence of damage or tampering.

 

Note that the VIN and body numbers are very early production, probably the second or third week which means there was probably still some refitting going on (working the bugs out).  The Linden assembly plant also produced Olds and Buicks so Pontiac at that time represented 30% or less of their production.  Also they were dealing with more different models than the Pontiac “home” plant that only built Pontiacs so they may have done more crayon marks to identify a Pontiac part from a Buick or Olds.  Very interesting to see, thanks for posting, hope this helps you,

 

Todd C

1957 Pontiac Oakland Club Technical Advisor      

Hey Todd that is fascinating news! My guess is a frame swap.

For our readers that might not know; the 59 Star Chief didn't have a 2 door hardtop, just a sport sedan for 59. And Bonneville didn't have a sports sedan, just a hardtop, only Catalina had both a sedan and hardtop  and Catalina is on a shorter wheelbase, frame and body, body is seven inches shorter-all in the trunk!.

And frames between Buick and Olds B bodies are unmistakably different from each other and Pontiac. Not sure about Buick, but 59-60 Olds had frame side rails welded into the X frame for protection and had spring perches welded in because Olds is rear leaf sprung suspension instead of the three link rear coil suspension Pontiac, and of course Buick is still hanging onto Torque tube.

Edited by Pfeil (see edit history)
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8 hours ago, poci1957 said:

VIN# 859L1455

8=Pontiac Model 28 Long Wheelbase (Bonneville and Star Chief)

59=1959

L=Linden NJ Assembly Plant

1455=the 455th Pontiac Model 28 built at the Linden plant (numbers started at 1001)

I believe this is a common misconception and that VINs did not tally sequentially for every model.  Given that models came down the line mixed, this seems like it would be a logistical nightmare to keep track of.

 

• I had a '64 Catalina 4-dr sedan, built in August of '64. Pontiac built 257K Series 23s in '64 in TOTAL, yet my car had a VIN sequential number of 88280. Doesn't seem logical that Linden alone built 78,280 Series 23s, even by August of '64 production.
• I have a '64 GP built in the last week of October '63 in Pontiac; it's VIN sequential is 36,xxx. With 63K '64 GPs built, there's no way 35K (36,xxx - 1001) were done by Oct '63 from one plant alone. Further - this car's GP-specific body number is 24xx, a huge difference from the VIN. and I believe supports that '36,xxx' was ALL MODEL '64s out of that plant, not just Series 29s.

I am certain '1455' was the 455th '59 Pontiac off the Linden (mixed brand) plant, not merely the 455th Series 28 car.

Edited by WQ59B (see edit history)
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16 hours ago, WQ59B said:

I believe this is a common misconception and that VINs did not tally sequentially for every model.  Given that models came down the line mixed, this seems like it would be a logistical nightmare to keep track of.

 

I am certain '1455' was the 455th '59 Pontiac off the Linden (mixed brand) plant, not merely the 455th Series 28 car.

 

Actually WQ59B seems to have corrected me on this point.  In 1957 which is my area of expertise they DID tally for each model as I described, including breaking down between manual and automatic transmissions.  BUT referring back to my parts book he reminds me that in 1958 the system changed and his serial number theory is right and I was a little outdated in my reference, I corrected the original post above.

 

However, that opens a new question for this car.  If this is the 455th 1959 Pontiac off the line at Linden note that it is the 166th Bonneville 2837 body produced for that plant.  This would mean that 30% of the first 1959 Pontiacs from Linden were all Bonneville 2837 2dr hardtops.  I had heard of Pontiac building a bunch of the same model at introduction as a marketing move and this seems to confirm it, any comment on that WQ59B?     

Edited by poci1957 (see edit history)
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2 hours ago, poci1957 said:

If this is the 455th 1959 Pontiac off the line at Linden note that it is the 166th Bonneville 2837 body produced for that plant.  This would mean that 30% of the first 1959 Pontiacs from Linden were all Bonneville 2837 2dr hardtops.  I had heard of Pontiac building a bunch of the same model at introduction as a marketing move and this seems to confirm it, any comment on that WQ59B?     

Interesting question. 30% is too high, and it's not like it might have been split with a (non-existent) Star Chief 2-dr hardtop (would have been the same body shell). However as we know, PMD didn't assemble cars in the same order Fisher built the shells.

The '67 Firebirds VIN# 1001 & 1002 that recently were restored/auctioned? Their data plates read 'show body 1' and 'show body 4'. I remember reading something about the frame numbers & body numbers on the first batch of Corvettes being mixed. You'd think they'd start the process at 1/1.
I saw a pic somewhere of '66-67 A-Body Pontiacs in the 'overhead bridge' between Fisher and one of the assembly plants, in 2 rows if I remember, waiting. And any of the assembly line pics circa '59 from Buick or Chevy I just looked at- they all were mixed body styles in Assembly.

So while the Linden Fisher plant may have cranked out a run of 2837s, I'd bet money many were stockpiled to allow for ordered cars and a general 'shuffling' of different styles as desired. Did folk lean heavy on the flashier models at the start of new year, like they commonly do today?

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22 minutes ago, WQ59B said:

So while the Linden Fisher plant may have cranked out a run of 2837s, I'd bet money many were stockpiled to allow for ordered cars and a general 'shuffling' of different styles as desired. Did folk lean heavy on the flashier models at the start of new year, like they commonly do today?

 

I also bet that is what happened, stockpiling a batch of bodies and possibly in a “last in first out” storage situation that would have the sequence out of order. 

 

I was not around in the 1950s but anecdotal evidence makes me think early production was often higher end models just like today.  Linden was there to serve the affluent New York/New Jersey area so it seems likely that dealers would want a fancy one to display at introduction.  And there was not much flashier than a 1959 Bonneville with one of those spectacular tri-tone interiors!

 

I will have a further note on Bonnevilles in your PM

 

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I have a copy of 1959 Buick production totals by plant & series, for the month of August '58. It doesn't really show anything out of the ordinary from Linden : LeSabres: 717, Invictas: 323, Electras: 283, Electra 225s: 105. Even if we combine 'E's and 'E 225's it's 717, 323 and 388- not quite 'preloading' the top tier models. BTW- Linden was the highest volume of all plants for Buick that month.

One thing's for certain- there's not much that's both consistent AND logical when it comes to the inner workings of General Motors. ;)

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17 minutes ago, WQ59B said:

I have a copy of 1959 Buick production totals by plant & series, for the month of August '58. It doesn't really show anything out of the ordinary from Linden : LeSabres: 717, Invictas: 323, Electras: 283, Electra 225s: 105. Even if we combine 'E's and 'E 225's it's 717, 323 and 388- not quite 'preloading' the top tier models. BTW- Linden was the highest volume of all plants for Buick that month.

One thing's for certain- there's not much that's both consistent AND logical when it comes to the inner workings of General Motors. ;)

 

See my post earlier in the thread about my 1965 Bonneville. One theory I have is that, bearing in mind that my Bonneville has very few options, they did some fairly basic cars early in the production run in order to put them in the showrooms at a low price. I made contact with the original owner of my car many years ago. He was a New Zealander working in the US for an international company. He told me he bought it new in Seattle Washington - although I don't exactly on what date and from which dealer - and the price was $3995. He drove it in the US for some time then shipped it back to NZ  - it travelled on the passenger liner Canberra - when he was posted back home and the car was first registered in NZ on 26 November 1965.

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