The Most Beautiful Thing on Wheels”…Pontiac for 1936
The Pontiac line-up for 1936 featured the same 3 series as the previous year with revised names. The Master Six series was readily identified by the straight front axle; the Deluxe Sixes carried Dubonnet independent front suspension and so did the Deluxe Eight series models. The six cylinder jobs both rode a 112” wheelbase; the eight used a 116 5/8” span between the axles to house its longer engine. All 3 series’ featured the same 7 models in their respective lines; business coupe, sport coupe, cabriolet, 2 and 4 door sedans plus 2 and 4 door touring sedans.
The most obvious change for 1936 was that the front doors were again hinged on the A-pillar; the “suicide” doors of ’35 became a single model year oddity. The rear doors of 4 door models remained hinged on the C-pillar and would continue to be through 1940. The grille bars on either side of center lost their bright finish, creating a waterfall effect as the “Silver Streaks” ran from the base of the windshield forward and down to end behind the front bumper. The headlamp nacelles were somewhat slimmer and mounted to either side of the hood as opposed to being mounted atop the fenders. The front parking lamps were integral with the headlamps, although accessory fender-mounted running lights were available. The six cylinder models featured an Indianhead hood ornament while the eights were adorned with a delightful art deco design. The front and rear fenders were smooth for 1936, gone were the “speed lines” that first appeared in 1933. Side-mount spare tires were available on any model at extra cost. All models were fitted with safety plate glass for the windshield; at extra cost safety glass was available for the remaining windows.
The Pontiac Six interior offered a choice of taupe mohair or brown pattern broadcloth upholstery. The glove box door did not include a lock and the interior hardware and dash knobs were of black Bakelite. The starter control was a separate foot pedal and a hand choke was fitted. The early model-year 2 door sedans were fitted with front bucket seats, only the drivers’ was adjustable; a mid-year change offered a bench seat in these models.
The Deluxe Six models could be upholstered in taupe mohair or a modified tweed pattern taupe woolen cloth. The instrument panel featured 2 round dials with the speedometer on the left and ancillary gauges for fuel level, temperature and oil pressure. The generator and high beam indicator were red warning lamps. The control knobs were translucent Tenite plastic and grouped symmetrically in the center of the dashboard. Choking was automatic and starter control was a foot pedal.
The 4 door sedans featured rear compartment arm rests, assist straps, a central ash tray and robe cord on the back of the front seat. A recessed foot rest was also installed for passenger comfort. The rear quarter windows opened for additional ventilation.
Pontiac Eight models were available with taupe mohair or brown pin-stripe broadcloth upholstery. The instrument panel and driver’s compartment were the same as the Deluxe Six, although the starter was controlled by stepping on the accelerator. The rear compartments of the 2 and 4 door sedans were outfitted in a similar manner to the Deluxe Sixes as well, but added an ashtray in each armrest for additional convenience.
The cabriolet upholstery offered the choice of hand-buffed crushed grain Spanish leather in tan or taupe colored worsted Bedford cord fabric.
Optional equipment included a choice of Master or Deluxe radio, plus standard or Deluxe heater or an electric clock. In addition, there were several accessory “groups” for ordering convenience. Group “Y” included the electric clock, visor vanity mirror, gear shift ball, cigar lighter and ash tray. Group “X” consisted of a rear view mirror watch, visor vanity mirror, gear shift ball, cigar lighter and ash tray. Group “D” offered matched electric horns, passenger side sun visor and a passenger side tail lamp.
The Pontiac Six, introduced in 1935, remained at 208 cubic inches and produced 81 horsepower @ 3,600 rpm. The Eight’s displacement increased to 232 cid thanks to a bore of 3 ¼ inches; horsepower also increased to 87 @ 3,800 rpm. The engine block was a new casting which featured full-length water jackets to improve cooling; the cylinder barrels were no longer visible on the driver’s side of the engine as they had been in previous years. The Indianhead logo was retained above the starter. Both Six and Eight cylinder engines utilized a standard compression ratio of 6.2:1; I find no reference to any high compression ratio being available for either engine. The cooling system utilized a cross-flow radiator, water distribution tube and was fitted with a thermostat for quick warm-up to operating temperature. The Eights had a pressure cap rated at 4 psi, the Six cylinder models did not pressurize the cooling system.
Chassis features were very similar between all models; they all shared the new 10 inch diameter clutch assembly, triple sealed hydraulic brakes and rear spring covers at additional cost. The frame was a K-Y style for rigidity; steering was of the worm and roller type with a ratio of 17.5:1. A helical gear 3 speed transmission was used, with Synchromesh on second and high gear. The standard axle ratio was 4.55:1; the “mountain” ratio was 4.85:1 and the “plains” ratio was 4.11:1. Six cylinder models rode on 6.00x16 low pressure tires while the Eights were fitted with 6.50x16 tires. The Eight cylinder cars carried 18 gallons of gasoline but the Sixes only had a 15 gallon tank.
Pontiac sales were up for 1936; they produced 93,475 standard Six models; 44,040 Deluxe Six automobiles and 38,755 Eight cylinder jobs. The new models were introduced on September 25th of 1935 and a total of 176,270 ’36 Pontiacs rolled off the assembly lines. Pontiac remained America’s 6th largest automobile company.