Pontiac Bonneville Fuel-Injected Convertible
While Pontiac was generally well regarded as a maker of reliable but somewhat mundane family sedans during the mid-1950s, this image was shattered soon after the legendary Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen assumed leadership, becoming the youngest GM general manager in the process. Knudsen, who remains famous for the statement “You can sell a young car to old people, but you can’t sell an old car to young people”, formed the nucleus of his engineering team around E.M. “Pete” Estes and John Z. DeLorean. Together, they promptly set about building Pontiac’s performance image, one that remained intact for several decades.
Soon, a line of high-performance powertrain options were developed and made available, specifically targeted towards NASCAR competition. Consistent sales increases and growing market share quickly followed, and despite GM’s adoption of the AMA racing ban in 1957, Pontiac continued to emphasize performance. Developed as a traffic-generator for Pontiac dealers, the 1957 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible was a truly limited production car, with just 630 units produced. Unveiled to the public in December of 1956, the Bonneville Convertible was also the rarest Pontiac built at the time. With a lofty base price of $5,782, the Bonneville came equipped with virtually every accessory Pontiac offered. In fact, there was only one way you could get it – fully loaded. Air conditioning and an externally mounted spare were the only available options.
The Bonneville's other true distinction was in the area of high performance. Contemporary published reports estimated the fuel-injected engine’s horsepower to be somewhere between 295 and 310. Meanwhile, Pontiac never released a specific rating for this engine, simply stating that its output was "in excess of 300 horsepower". Despite their size and bulk, the Bonneville proved effective when put to the test, reaching 60 miles per hour in 8.1 seconds from a standing start. The marketing plan for the debut of the Bonneville was also unique. Each dealer in the United States was allocated just one car to sell, which earned Pontiac a great deal of publicity. While Pontiac buyers realized that it meant something to have a fuel-injected engine, it really meant something to own a fuel-injected Pontiac Bonneville Convertible.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2009 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona, in November of 2010 at the Robson Estate, Gainesville, Georgia and in January of 2011 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona.
315bhp, 347 cu. in. V8 engine with Rochester mechanical fuel injection, Hydra-Matic automatic transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, with rear semi-elliptic leaf springs and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 124"
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Aaron Summerfield and Simon Clay