Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah is where the Pontiac Bonneville got its inspiration. Located just in west of Great Salt Lake’s, it’s the home of many land speed records, many of these are still in hold today.
Take a ride with me as we explore the car that characterized the very best the GM has to offer for 47 years. Learn more about the first automobiles to wear the nameplate and uncover the most precious, rare and collectible versions of the Pontiac Bonneville.
General Motors division Pontiac used the Bonneville moniker to assign a luxury trim level. Though the name first surfaced in 1954, coined after a concept car. The experimental two door sport coupe called Bonneville Special appeared at the General Motors Motorama Show. Designed by Harley J. Earl, this futuristic car gave us a peek of what the Pontiac version of the Chevrolet Corvette could look like.
With the crowd-pleasing response for the name, Pontiac decided to use it as a top-of-the-line trim designation. Pontiac Star Chief Custom Bonneville convertible proudly wore the emblem in 1957. Along with this level of trim, Pontiac includes every option in their arsenal that raised the price to $5800.
It was a huge amount of money back in the late 50’s that’s why it puts the automobile in direct contest with the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham Edition. There’s only about 600 Bonneville Star Chief sold but on the bright side of that, it became one of the most treasured Pontiac’s of all time.
The Most Collectible Bonneville
Pontiac made the Bonneville as a stand-alone model for the first time in 1958. One of the reasons why the 1958 model collectible is that they only made the car in two door editions which you can choose whether a convertible or a hardtop version.
The body style was changed on the following year; you could get a hold of a two-door, four-door and even a station wagon version. The 370 CID engine became standard equipment in 1958. Equipped with a four barrel carburetor and dual exhaust, the standard engine produced a satisfactory 225 HP.
If you add $500, the 370 CID Tempest fuel injected-engines would produce 310 HP. There are only few built of these because you also get the Tri Power option Tempest engine with three 2 barrel carburetors. This configuration can produce 300 HP. This is $400 less than the fuel injected model. Because of that, the 1958 Bonneville with fuel injection are extremely rare. An estimated few hundreds are only built.
The Affordable Pontiac Bonneville
In previous years, General Motors lined up the quad headlamps in horizontal positions and in 1963, they stacked them in a vertical arrangement. This makes the car to look more aggressive with different front grille and bumper assembly. The super Duty 389 Tri Power V8 that is included in the flexible engine selection made the third generation Bonneville a little more interesting.
All the same standard equipment stayed. The same 2 barrel 389 they put in the Pontiac Catalina, but buyers had the option of upgrading to a 400 CID V8 generating 340 HP. The impressive 421 CID Super Duty V8 was the most powerful engine at that time; with two 4 barrel carburetors they conventionally rated the engine at close to 400 HP.