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What's the difference between a prewar Buikc and a Pontiac?


Joris
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As a European(Dutch)a few things keep puzzling me. I see loads of Buicks and nice websites. Like Paul DeLucchi's. But nothing on pre 1950's Pontiac. Why ? Nobody had one? Were they so bad that they're all scrapped? I found this nice 1927(?) vintage Pontiac and pasted it on my homepage <A HREF="http://www.prewarcar.com" TARGET=_blank>PreWarCar</A>. I contacted GM, but heard nothing so far. Please tell me when you know a brilliant Pontiac pre '40 website. Thanks Joris info@prewarcar.com

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Guest Shaffer

The old Pontiacs was fine cars, as well as the Buicks. Really do not know why not many sites for Pontiac. You can go to <A HREF="http://www.performancepontiac.com" TARGET=_blank>www.performancepontiac.com</A> there may be a forum there for the old Pontiacs.<P>Correction: go to <A HREF="http://www.performanceyears.com" TARGET=_blank>www.performanceyears.com</A> <P>the above site looks to be for a new car dealership, but thought I would leave it incase it would be helpful.<p>[ 01-09-2002: Message edited by: Shaffer ]

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My father once told me that Pontiacs prior to 1955 were not well thought of because they were the least reliable of GM's products. In particular, he said that they were notorious for stalling in the rain with wet ignition problems. <P>I had a 1951 Chieftan for a few years (but only a few hundred miles) and did not notice any such problems. Has anyone else heard this?

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Centurion- I generally agree with what you've posted. I've seen both side of the Buick/ Pontiac fence for many years now. All I've heard regarding Pontiacs is that they were quite reliable (post-war to mid 50s) yet rather unexciting otherwise. Never heard of reliability problems until the FI '57/58s.<P>My grandfather began owning a string of Pontiacs after trading in his underpowered & thirsty '50 DeSoto on a '55 Chieftian Catalina 2-dr hardtop with first post-war Pontiac V8. <P>With regards to sales, Buick & Pontiac flip-flopped a bit. From 1930 to 1942, Pontiac DID outsell Buick in '33, 34, 35, 36 & 37. Many years Pontiac was right behind Buick in sales position, tho usually separated by a significant amount.<p>[ 01-10-2002: Message edited by: WQ59B ]

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My theory is that Pontiacs were so much more performance-oriented AFTER '55 that THAT's where the primary enthusiast interest lies. With Buicks, performance was never a primary focus (GS excluded)- so no era really receives a disproportionate following. <P>You walk up to any given full-size '50-60s Buick and there's usually (not always) only one possibility engine-wise & 99% have an automatic.<P>When you see a -say- '63 Catalina, it could have a regular fuel 2bbl, hi-comp 2bbl, hi-comp 4bbl or Tri-Power. The last 2 you could also get on a 421 instead of the 389. 3-spd manual standard, auto & 4-spd optional (95% of f/s were automatics). You could technically also purchase an aluminum-nosed 2x4bbl Super Duty Catalina w/ factory headers. That's a range of 215-405 HP. Rear gears were also of a wide variety of ratios. That let's you 'customize' your Pontiac your way.<P>Another thing I've noticed is the average age of BCA'ers SEEMS to be many years higher than those of the Pontiac-Oakland Club. I think they REMEMBER the pre-war jobs better than POCIers. Many many times I've spoken to BCA'ers and mentioned I'm modifying my '59 and 80% of the time they respond with a flabbergasted "W-WHY?!?" (and '59s are far from the most beloved Buicks). POCIers usually have that underlying performance interest, so modifying/ improving a Pontiac's performance is greeted with enthusiasm.<P>Argueably [of course!!] Pontiac had much sharper styling in the 60s than Buick- both interiors & exteriors. <P>Add to all this the fact that Pontiac was actively & successfully engaged in motorsports officially from about '56-'63 and almost more-so --but privately-- in the later 60s and you will get a great many followers.<P>Pontiac moved into 4th ahead of Buick in overall sales in 1959, and took 3rd place from '62-70. Pontiac ruled the enthusiast's hearts in the 60s, and that's why there's so much 60s-70s Pontiac info relative to pre-war stuff. <P>I often prefer Buicks over Pontiacs in the 50s, but definitely prefer Pontiacs over Buicks in the 60s.<P>There, I'm done...

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Yep, there's no doubt about it, the 1960's was truly Pontiac's Golden Era! These were beautiful cars, and the interiors as well as the exteriors were often sensational. It is probably no surprise that POCI members are, on average, younger than the BCA guys. Those '60's Pontiacs always impressed those of us who are baby boomers.<P>Generally speaking, the Pontiacs of the '59 through '66 era are difficult to beat appearance-wise. Much as I love my '59 Buick, I have to say that the Pontiac was probably the sharpest looking car in the industry that year. The '61 and '62 full-size Pontiacs were also very attractive.<P>I have read interviews with GM Design Staff, who have said that they consider the 1965 full-size lineup to be the most beautiful they ever designed. The designers single out the Pontiac and the Buick as the most attractive of the lot, and I would say that Buick styling was on a par with Pontiac at that point. By the introduction of the 1967 full-size cars, I think that Buick emerged with a more striking design theme -- although it was probably less successful when applied to the '68 and '69 Skylarks and GS's. The large Pontiacs gained their massive snouts in '68, and the '69's and '70's were no better. Buick's full-size cars looked great, however, and sales of big Buicks really took off. <P>Each division definitely had its winners during the '60's. Buick had, of course, the Riviera and some striking Wildcats, but the Tempest/LeMans/GTO's, Firebirds, and Grand Prix's were dynamite for most of the decade.

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Guest Shaffer

I agree that the 1959 Pontiac was one of the nicest 59 model cars made, with the other 59 General Motors cars following. My uncle, who is mostly a Ford owner (owns about 50 old Ford project cars) has three 1960 Pontiacs - two 2-door sedans, with one being a rare 3-speed manual shift car and a fairly solid 60 Safari wagon. Still the 61s are his favorite year. The 61 Pontiacs look ahead of their time. Styling was not overdone, as it was in most all 1961 cars.<p>[ 01-10-2002: Message edited by: Shaffer ]

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I have heard similar statements regarding the older Pontiacs, although I have heard little specific detail. An old dealership located near my hometown once conveyed to my parents: "You will never be happy with a Pontiac after having a Buick." <P>My parents bought new Pontiacs in 1948, 1951 and 1956, and were very pleased with all three cars. <P>With regard to the pre-war era (period in question here), Buick generally sold in significantly greater volume than the Pontiacs (or Oldsmobiles). Among medium-priced makes, Buick was the perennial best seller until the late 1950's. Buick was an upscale make relative to Pontiac in the General Motors lineup. Whereas Pontiac offered six-cylinder and eight-cylinder cars, all Buicks of the era (1931 - 1952)were overhead valve straight-8's that were significantly more powerful than the Pontiac straight-8's.<P>Since the person initiating this topic is located in Europe, I believe that a larger number of Buicks were exported to Europe during the pre-war era. Buicks were particularly well-regarded in Britain, which imported Canadian-built Buicks (McLaughlin-Buicks) in significant numbers.<P>Several years ago, I attended a Pontiac National Meet in Dayton, Ohio. I was surprised to see a small showing of pre-Wide Track era cars at the national meet, and the GTO's and Firebirds seemed to dominate the show. The large Pontiacs of the '60's also appeared in significant numbers, but there were very few pre-1955 cars.<P>This was a real contrast to all of the Buick National Meets I've attended, where the cars of the 1930's, 1940's and early 1950's appear in great numbers and there is considerable collector interest.<P>All of this may account for the fact that much less information is seen on the web for the pre-war Pontiacs compared to the Buicks.<P>[ 01-10-2002: Message edited by: Centurion ]<p>[ 01-10-2002: Message edited by: Centurion ]

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'59 Pontiac's front ends don't have an inch of bad linework anywhere, from the relatively light and so-straight front bumper, the deep-set split grilles, the way the arrowhead conforms to the hood and leaves a 'wake' in the hood of widening windsplits that lap around the 'shore' of the windshield...sigh!<P>However! The rear quarters have conflicting lines (the curve of the sweepspear, the rearward jut of the lower quarter, the somewhat 'tacked-on' appearance of the twin fins... The rear bead-rolled cove area is fantastic, the rear bumper is sufficiently massive, the decklid trim and flat, but those rear quarters take a lot of points off for me. <P>The '59 Buick is MUCH more fluid and pure in form (if you will). The only critisism I would make is for all the visual sledgehammer approach of the front end, the rear end is relatively weak. No; the fins are awesome, but the taillights are restrained for the era and the rear bumper is just too plain. I think Buick ran out of time after having to redesign the rear end for cost's sake from the prototype's giant oval opening & 3 fins.<P>So, the '59 Buick comes out on top for me, which is why I own one. I identify with all the anger bottled up in it. All my 60s cars are Pontiacs, however.

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Regarding the '59 Buick . . . GM designers of the era have said that the Buick comes closest to meeting the original design "vision" for the '59 cars. It is a cleaner look than the other GM cars have, and I have heard it described as the most "Moparesque" of the '59 GM designs. Given that the '57 Chrysler products inspired the radical redesign of GM's '59 cars, that it not too surprising.<P>I agree on both points: The rear styling of the '59 Buick is surprisingly simple, although the bold forms of the fins and taillights save it. The extra flash of chrome and stainless at the rear of the Electra 225 sedans definitely dresses these cars up without seeming ostentatious.<P>A review of Pontiac's design concepts for the '59 show that there were some real struggles with that rear quarter design. It works for me, but agree that the stainless sweepspear doesn't really fit with the shape of the quarter panel.

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