Rings, valves, gaskets etc for my 1930 Pontiac sedan
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 17:59
Written by admin
From contact form:
Would you know where I may purchase the rings, valves, gaskets etc for my 1930 Pontiac sedan.
Kind Regards Roydon Griffiths
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Saturday, 23 November 2013 14:48
Written by Larry
When it comes to high performance cars, station wagons are non starters. You’ll never catch an enthusiast in one of those.
Rarely do such mundane expressions of workaday life appear on showgrounds or drag strips, with one exception: the Chevy Nomad and Pontiac Safari “hardtop wagons” of 1955-57.
Today you can’t touch a good Nomad and precious few Safaris for much less than $7500 unless your prepared to do a restoration. There`s a good reason demand simply overwhelms the supply. Even in it`s day the Safari was uncommon, amounting to no more than 2 percent of Pontiac wagon production. The division built 3760 of the 1955 models, 4042 for 56, and 1292 of the 57`s (excluding the conventional four door and 2 door Chieftain wagon also called the Safari). There can`t be more than a thousand still in existence. Unique styling coupled with high performance goodies made this a very special car.
The genesis for the Safari and Nomad was a pretty and innovative styling exercise derived from the recently introduced Corvette. Supervised by Harley Earl, vice president for styling, this sporty hardtop inspired wagon was first displayed at the 1957 GM Motorama. It signaled the arrival of more stylish and luxurious production wagons to replace the utilitarian steel containers of the early postwar years.
Today’s collectors are less concerned with the Safaris historical significance than with it`s basic appeal as and automobile. And they are hard put to find a better looking station wagon from any era, let alone one with Motorama heritage, high road worthiness, decent economy, great performance, a consistent increase in value.
The original Nomad show car was built on a 1953 Chevrolet station wagon chassis, and had Corvette front and rear end styling topped by a distinctively shaped greenhouse. The ensemble tastefully combined styling elements of the two body types that together accounted for a third of new car sales in the 50`s, the station wagon and the pillarless hardtop coupe. The Nomad was immediately recognizable for it`s hardtop style front window frames, wide b pillars and thin forward sloping rear pillars, wrapped rear side glass and fluted roof. The roof styling was mainly the work of Carl Renner, and it impressed Earl so much that at the last minute he ordered adapted for the lower body of the all new 55 Chevrolet. This became the production Chevy Nomad. At first this car was to be Chevrolet’s alone, but as Renner recalled Pontiac had a chance to have something new also…I remember, Chevrolet didn’t like that. Chevrolet always wanted this exclusively. However, management wanted it for the Pontiac line too, so it worked out.
Pontiac applied the Nomad treatment to it`s 55 styling from the cowl back, but despite it`s appearances the Safari shared precious little sheet metal with other body styles. Drive trains of course were shared, and designers retained what stock components they could: wind shields and vent hoods from the hardtop and convertible, floor pans from the two door wagon, inner door panels from the hardtops, plus minor trim, taillights, and such. Pontiac`s assignment was to build a larger and heavier, more powerful and luxurious, and expensive wagon than the Nomad, even though both models would have to share GM`s A body. Thus the list price for the V-8 Nomad (you could a six, though few did) was $2571, while the Safari started at $3047. The Safari came with a standard V-8 and Hydra Matic, but it`s actual sticker price approached $4000.00 with addition of a few options. This put the high end station wagon price spectrum with some 50 entries, ranging from the $1869 Rambler Super Suburban two door to the $4200 Chrysler New Yorker Town & Country.
As with the Nomad, most everybody liked the Safari`s styling at the time. Walt Woron described it as a portent of the future with it`s leaning forward look look. Though considerably different in appearance from the Nomad, the Safari was actually the same from the belt line up; inner wheel housings, glass, doors, roof and tailgate were all identical. The rear quarters and floor pan were however exclusively Pontiac`s, mainly because the safari rode a longer 122-inch wheelbase against the Nomad`s 115.
A $500 price difference was a big one in 1955, but it gave Safari a big edge in luxury over the Nomad. While the Chevy had vinyl upholstery, for example, the Pontiac`s seats were covered in leather. The Nomad`s rear cargo area was covered in linoleum; the Safari was carpeted. Initially the Safari`s rear seat folding arrangement was larger and more comfortable, but for the 1956-57 Nomad it’s rear seat was interchangeable with the Safari.
The Safari was pretty fast for a station wagon, though not in the same league with the lighter hot Pontiac`s. Typical 0 to 60 mph times were around 13 seconds with the 200 bph engine option. The Safari followed the rest of the line in styling and mechanical revisions for 1956 and 57. The last models were probably the best from the performance standpoint because of Pontiac`s newly enlarged 347 cid V-8 offering up 270 bhp or 290/320 via tripower. Pontiac is no longer Grandma`s car, because we don’t think Granny could stand the acceleration built into this torpedo without blacking out. Wrote Tom Cahill “If you put your cigar out the window friction will ignite it you’ll be doing 0-60 before you can yell cop.”
Comparisons between the Safari and Nomad are inevitable despite their common design roots, there is a great difference between the two cars, especially on the road. Engine options for instance, give the two cars approximately equal power-to-weight ratios. The Pontiac 290-bhp gave the Safari about 13:1 pounds per horsepower. Chevrolet`s top engine that year was the 283-bhp, 283-cid, which gave the Nomad a similar figure. Neither of these two engines however was common in the wagons. More typical would be 270-bhp Safari(14:1) and a 250-bhp Nomad (almost identical) Engine for engine, there was no on paper performance advantage for either car. Neither was there an advantage against the watch, model year for model year. For instance we tested a 1956 Safari with the base 227-bhp Starchief V-8 against a 56 Nomad equipped with the base 162-bhp Chevy V-8. We found acceleration times and top speed virtually the same.
No, the real contrasts come in ares other than off the line pickup. The Pontiac definitely had the more sporting ride, for example. It slams itself down on the road letting the occupants know all about surface conditions constantly through the seats of their pants. By comparison the Nomad seems softly sprung. It plows and under steers with all the clumsiness typical of mid fifties Detroit cars, but as long as you don’t try to push it through corners like an Alfa Romeo the roll isn’t really excessive or bothersome. The Nomad has an even gentle ride with a lack of chop that belies it`s shorter wheel base. The Safari constantly seems to be seeking some place on the road other than where you want it to be. In those simpler days, of course the main way to get improved handling was by stiffening the suspension to the level of an oxcart. Thus the Safari usually out handles the Nomad despite it’s greater bulk. Yet some Chevy`s are a little less forgiving than the Safari we drove.
To it`s credit, the 1955-56 Safari stops as well as goes, mainly because it has larger brakes than the Nomad. Pontiac brakes were widely praised by road testers in 1956. This changed dramatically on the 57 models where Pontiac reduced the wheel diameter by an inch to 14 inches. The correspondingly smaller lining area combined with more horsepower rendered the brakes inadequate in hard, all out stops. If hauling your Safari down from speed is as important to you as making it go quickly (and it should be) you`d be better with a 55 or 56. Besides, most people find them better looking than the 57.
As you`d expect, both the Safari and Nomad have excellent outward visibility, the thin pillar roof line and broad expanses of glass making the view literally panoramic. The only factors that limit your observation are the size of the rear view mirrors and, in some situations the wise center post. The driving position in both cars is bolt upright, and the bench seat provides no lateral support whatsoever. Interestingly though, the Pontiac could be ordered with the little known backrest recliner option. Steering wheels are large and, in our view clumsy in both, though strictly normal for the 50`s.
Though the current recession has temporarily at least, put a lid on soaring prices, the Safari remains expensive as a collectors car, rarity does not always guarantee collect-ability, but it sure helps. Though 20 percent of total Nomad production has survived, the Safari`s percentage is half of that. Other factors enhancing desirability are the Safari`s direct connection to the original Carl Renner design and a growing interest in Pontiac performance of all types from 1955 on. But the Safari has thus far trailed the Nomad in enthusiast popularity. Not too long ago, collector settled for a Safari because they couldn’t find a decent Nomad, others used Safaris as parts cars for Nomad restorations.
Now, there`s a small but vociferous group of Safari aficionados devoted to preserving Pontiac’s Nomad. They like the larger, more powerful engine, and they prefer it`s HydraMatic to Chevy`s Powerglide for obvious reasons. They don’t mind the hard ride, and they the lower tuned V-8`s return decent mileage. As for the Safari`s extra helping of gee-gaws and glitter, the Pontiac people have a good rejoinder. The plentiful bright metal, nicer interiors, prettier colors, and wider range of accessories and power options were, they see a better interpretation of the Nomad idea than the Chevy version. They also point out all through it`s three years of production the 2 door Safari remained more faithful to that idea than the Nomad, for example, the belt line dip on the 55 was still present on the 1957 Safari but not the 57 Nomad.
Obtaining parts for a Safari is both more or less difficult than for a Nomad. It`s easier in that demand for a 1955-57 Pontiac parts is not as high as for the corresponding Chevy parts, harder in that there were only a fourth as many Pontiac’s built in these years as Chevys. There are reproduction parts made for Nomads that will also fit Safaris, but few parts unique to Safari have been reproduced. One enthusiast has reproduced the tailgate lettering, but that seems to be it for now. Finding new old stock parts unique to any single model year is almost impossible.
Collectors believe that the Safari`s future as a desirable Pontiac is secure despite the big lead Nomads have in in value. But this current state of affair contrasts sharply with both models slow sales when new. And it`s because these pretty wagons didn’t sell, that they only lasted 3 years. They were the highest priced models in the line, costing more than even the convertibles. They were relatively impractical as station wagons, or at least that`s what we were led to believe, because they had dressy interiors and only two doors. And they all leaked. Of course such factors don’t deter today’s collectors when the price is right and it wont go down. And compared to say a 1957-58 Bonneville, the Safari is relatively more practical for conveying an entire family to car events. As for those notorious rain leaks, there not that important for a collectible that is invariably stored indoors and not often driven in the rain.
25 Years of High Performance
Saturday, 23 November 2013 10:52
Written by Larry
Ask almost any enthusiast to name the make of car most consistently associated with high performance and chances are you`ll hear the name Pontiac. Small wonder. From its first tentative step in 1955, when its long running inline engines gave way to a sparkling new overhead-valve V-8, Pontiac has ladled out performance cars of incredible quantity and variety.
Pontiac`s line of exciting runs long and deep. The `55 lineup included the memorable Safari, along with Chevy`s Nomad the first station wagon equipped for show and go as well as workaday hauling. In 1957 came the fuel-injected Bonneville, the car that demonstrated Pontiac`s firm commitment to enthusiastic motoring. The many hot models hot models that would follow were not only fast off the line but good handlers and good looking too. The 1959 model year saw the first of the famed Wide-Track Pontiac, where even the family models aimed for high road ability as well as good straight line poke. Much later, the division brought forth a worthy rival Europe`s best sedans at half their price, the exciting 1973 Grand Am. And throughout these halcyon days of high performance in the 60`s Pontiac styling was among the best in Detroit and, arguably anywhere in the world. In fact, consistently good styling-clean and smooth yet somehow suggestive of performance was a major factor in forging Pontiac`s reputation for building cars that stood apart from their more mundane Detroit contemporaries.
Engineering played it`s part too. When the age of compacts dawned in the early 60`s Pontiac led the way with the new technology in a performance oriented product. The 1961-63 Tempest with it`s flexible drive shaft and rear trans axel was a novel and interesting approach to small-car design in the US, even though it wasn’t as successful as management had hoped. It quickly evolved in to the Tempest Le Mans, from which sprang the GTO, the most imitated car of it`s type. The GTO was the first of a new breed, the muscle cars, and it has remained the most revered. By the late 1960s you could buy a mighty midsize machine under virtually every Detroit nameplate, but if you owned a GTO you had the original. Today, the GTO is the car for that small army of muscle car devotees for whom there is no worthy substitute.
Pontiac led the way again when a small segment of buyers began to demand American style grand touring cars. For 1967 it issued the Catalina 2+2 a very special Wide-Tracker. Two years later the Tempest Sprint arrived, with the first high performance six-cylinder engine built in America since the fabulous “Hudson” Hornet of the early 1950`s. The overhead cam Sprint six was so good that auto writers eagerly compared it to the immortal Jaguar XK engine.
For 1967 Chevy launched the Camaro to better the Mustang. Pontiac then launched it`s Firebird to better the Camaro.
The f-bird was arguably better looking than it’s Chevy rival, and was initially offered in a wider variety of types, from the six cylinder Sprint to the fire breathing 400 and later, the Trans Am. For 1970 came a stunning new design that was so right it would remain in production for the next dozen model years. The new generation Firebird of today retains a character that’s different from the Camaro`s, once again Pontiac has taken steps to make it special and in many ways better.
It`s important to remember that successes like these were never easy for Pontiac. The reason; it usually started at a disadvantage within the GM hierarchy. Because of it`s higher sales Chevrolet always took precedence when new models were planned, and Pontiac was often forced to “borrow” from Chevrolet. Yet it always managed to make it`s versions different from Chevys. Thus the Safari differed considerably from the Nomad, the Firebird from the Camaro, the Trans Am from the Z-28.
In developing such cars Pontiac never tied itself to hidebound engineering practice nor relied on way out solutions. Though high tech ideas were tried when they seemed necessary, tried and true components were never monkeyed with. The entire line of V-8s from 1955 through the last ones in 1981 stemmed from from the same original design something that can be said of no other make`s performance power plant. But because it`s engineering was so good in the first place, there was no need to change the V-8 much.
Above all, Pontiac`s great performance record was built by people, the division was fortunate through the years in having a succession of enthusiastic leaders, Bunkie Knudsen, Pete Estes, John Delorean, Bill Collins- stylists, engineers, and managers who liked cars and, unlike so many in Detroit, they viewed cars as something more than mere people movers. Even when the GM high command frowned on performance or racing, these people defied authority to provide it, either officially or as often happened under the table. That took a lot of courage, but it resulted in some of the most impressive cars Detroit has ever produced.
Thursday, 21 November 2013 17:51
Written by Larry
A vehicle design that challenged the limits of American engineering and thinking. John DeLorean’s vision for a Pontiac 2-seat sports car, with long sweeping hood and short rear deck styling.
This all original Grey hardtop, with Red interior, and Pontiac Overhead Cam six cylinder engine weighed in at only 2200 pounds and utilized a unique solid-body construction of exterior fiberglass and steel under body. The Banshee had all the elements of an awesome performer. General Motors executives viewed the concept to be too much of a threat to the Corvette and as a result additional development. Only two runnable prototypes were built. The car’s instructed DeLorean to cease influence on future GM products spanned decades.
During its development in 1964 it was called the XP-833 project.
This car was a small two-seater with a long, sweeping hood and a short rear
deck. Several different versions were constructed, but only two drivable
prototypes were ever built. One was a silver hard-top with a straight six
engine and the other is a white convertible with a V-8. Both survive today and
are in the hands of private collectors.
The styling on these cars is highly reminiscent of what appeared on third-
generation Corvettes in 1968. Another styling cue that made production was the
design of the tail lights, which are nearly identical to that found on second-
generation Pontiac Firebirds. Indeed, the high performance and sensuous styling
of the Banshee may have led to its demise. Head of Pontiac John DeLorean called
this car the “Mustang Fighter” and rumor has it he fully intended to bring it
to production. However, his bosses at GM felt that it would be a threat to the
Chevrolet Corvette in that it would steal sales from the Corvette and also that
(if DeLorean had his way) it could out-perform the Corvette as well.
This did not sit well with GM execs who had marketed the Corvette as their
top performer; even today, recent models such as the Camaro and Firebird – even
though using the same engine as Corvette – have those engines de-tuned slightly
so they will not have as high a horsepower rating as a Corvette. The Banshee
would have had equivalent horsepower, yet weighed 500 lb (227 kg) less than the
Corvette and so would have been a potent package. It was able to reach 60 mph
(97 km/h) in second gear. GM executives instructed DeLorean to cease further
development in 1966.
Banshee II Made in 1968, the Banshee II was the second in the Banshee
The 1968 Pontiac Banshee II had aerodynamic fiberglass skins over stock
Firebird inner panels and a near stock black interior.
In 1969, the Banshee II was modified with white paint and graphics,
including a chicken decal on the nose. It was then re-christened the Firebird
It had flush wheel covers, a deep louvered hood, cut down glass, brake
cooling vents, minimal ground clearance, and separate headrests for passenger
and driver. It was powered by a 400 C.I.D. V8 engine.
Banshee III Made in 1974, the Banshee III was the third in the Banshee
series. The front end bears some similarities to the later Trans-Ams. The
1974 Pontiac Banshee III was developed from a Pontiac Firebird platform with a
long sloping front end and more aerodynamic rear styling. The front was a
smooth blend of bumper sheet metal and covered headlamps for improved
aerodynamics. The soft face bumper system consisted of body color urethane over
an energy absorbing foam base, and the quartz halogen rectangular headlamps had
a three-beam system, low, freeway and high.
Side glass was fixed and flush to sheet metal for improved aerodynamics and
reduced wind noise, and an electrically operated access panel or toll window,
was provided in the fixed side glass design.
The interior had red leather upholstery. The rear seat folded for additional
luggage space and the seat harness system was anchored in the structural seat.
A 455 CID Super Duty V8 Pontiac engine powered it.
The metallic maroon Banshee III made its public debut in 1974. It had four
slit style taillights, but these became twenty “high-tech, round-hole”
taillights when it was updated in 1976.
Banshee IV Known within GM as the “Banshee IV”, this car was unveiled
in 1988 the two-door, four-seat Banshee IV had a sleek and sensuous futuristic
design. Its fiberglass body was painted bright red, while its triangular hood
was matte black. A 230 horsepower fuel-injected, single overhead cam V8 engine
powered the rear wheels. A heads-up display system (HUD) projected information
about speed, engine RPM, and fuel level on the windshield in the driver’s field
of vision. The dashboard featured video displays and numerous buttons; the
steering wheel alone contained about twenty. The dual rear wings were also
adjustable. Like its predecessors, it was intended to establish exterior and
interior design themes that would be modified for production versions of the
Pontiac Firebird and Pontiac Trans Am sports cars. The Banshee IV successfully
influenced the overall appearance for the fourth generation of those cars.
Okay, so where do I start? I was going to go point-for-point and just correct the article. But, that’s about as exciting as watching paint dry. I thought it’d be more fun to just tell the story the way it happened. How do I know the story? Well, if you ask any APA member about me, after they finish rolling their eyes and saying something like, “Oh, Dan Gallo! Well, he’s a “different one”, they’ll go on to tell you that I’m only a step down from obsessive about those `53/’54 Pontiacs. That, in itself is a long story, and I won’t get into it here. How `bout a future article for that? For Pontiac enthusiasts, the name “Parisienne”, may mean those early to mid Eighties full-size Pontiacs that looked like glorified Caprices. You’re not wrong. But, _ the Parisienne arrived long before that, in Canada. It was, basically, the Canadian version of the Bonneville. In other words, it was a Pontiac body, stuffed with a Chevy dive train and a Pontiac dash. Blame that on the U.S./Canadian currency exchange rate. Where I grew up, we were’ accustomed to seeing those strange cars on occasion. My older brother and I would call them “Cheviacs”.
To be sure, the Parsienne first materialized as a GM Motorama show car. Truth be told, it was an after thought, more than anything else. In preparation for the 1953 Motorama show in New York, each GM division’s design studio was responsible for a concept car. The Pontiac Division received their mandate a little late in the game. Designers were hard pressed to come up with an idea on such short notice, but, if you worked for the legendary Harley Earl, you jumped when he said, Jump! Now, before you look at the photo of the ’53 Pontiac show car and dismiss it as an easy customizing job, understand that Pontiac’s design and engineering teams had to burn the midnight oil to get this project done, and the modifications were many. But first, what to do?
It was decided that Pontiac’s Motorama entry would be a tribute to the Landau Cars of the 1930’s. You know, those cars that required a chauffeur. What was interesting was that Pontiac`s design team chose a two-door motif! How radical was that? To accomplish this, a regular production Pontiac Chieftain convertible was lifted from the production line and commandeered to the design studio, where it was lowered to a height of just 56 inches. The windshield was replaced with a new wraparound windshield similar to the one that appeared on the Oldsmobile Fiesta and the Cadillac Eldorado limited production cars of ’53. Sure, it sounds easy enough, but to accommodate the wraparound windshield, the standard issue Pontiac dash had to be modified sufficiently to allow for the new position of the A pillar which was a good six, or seven inches further back from the stock version. It took a lot more than proficiency in the sheet metal shop to pull this off.