There is some confusion as to the precise date Pontiac automobile production resumed in 1945, but it is certain that only one model was initially available, the Streamliner Sedan Coupe. A Streamliner Station Wagon soon followed, at first, only the standard trim, 8 passenger model was produced. These were both B-body models that rode on the longer 122 inch wheel base, and were nearly identical to their pre-war ancestors.
The summer and fall of 1945 saw much labor unrest, with strikes by the miners, steel workers and auto workers, among others. This severely hampered automobile production in particular, but also every major product that required any amount of steel. This meant that new cars were arriving at the dealerships without bumpers, as they had in 1942. It was not until June of 1946, that Pontiac had nearly the full compliment of Streamliner and Torpedo models it sold before the war; the only casualty was the Metropolitan sedan.
Since 1937, Pontiac model numbers were listed by series and identified the basic body shell, body style and engine. This nomenclature changed beginning in 1946. The series names and designation numbers; Torpedo Six – 25 series; Torpedo Eight – 27 series; Streamliner Six – 26 series, and Streamliner Eight – 28 series; all remained the same. A 2 letter suffix was added to the series number; LA for the Torpedo models and LB for the Streamliners. The L designated 1946 and the A or B designated which basic Fisher body it was based on.
The Torpedo series, 25LA for the sixes, and 27LA for the eights; offered the following body styles: business coupe, sport coupe, sedan coupe, convertible coupe, plus 2 and 4 door bustle-back sedans.
The Streamliner series, 26LB and 28LB, six and eight cylinder models, respectively; were offered as a Sedan Coupe, a 4 door slope-back sedan; and the station wagons. The standard wagon was fitted with 3 row seating for 8 passengers, while the Deluxe model came with only 2 row, 6 passenger seating.
The outward appearance of these models was very similar; distinguishing features of the A-body, Torpedo models were shorter trim on the tops of the front fenders, painted pin stripes on the fender “speed lines” and raised “feathers” on the hood ornaments. The Streamliners received swept-back hood ornaments, chrome-trimmed “speed lines” and longer moldings on the tops of the front fenders. Unique to the Streamliner Eights were front fender badges just behind the wheel openings, these incorporated into the “speed line” trim moldings.
The interruption in civilian automobile production caused by the war did have the effect of “proving” the durability of automobiles as a whole. Pontiac claimed improved rust proofing and chrome plating on the 1946 models, as a result of what they found to be the case with their pre-war products. Based upon salt-spray testing, they felt the life of chrome plating would be doubled by the new specifications put in place. Sills, doors and the underside of the floors were sprayed with undercoating to prevent rust and corrosion. Pontiac also used a process called Saftiseal, a semi-fluid sealing compound that was applied to floor seams and joints to prevent the intrusion of dust, air or exhaust fumes. Beyond these items, the bodies essentially carried over from 1942.
The dashboard and interior trim were finished to appear as Fiddleback Walnut. Enclosed Torpedo models featured novelty weave tan wool cloth; Streamliners were upholstered in Rendezvous Gray broadcloth with twin pin-stripes. The standard station wagon got tan imitation leather while the Deluxe wagon received genuine leather and wool cloth. The Torpedo convertible tops were either black or natural color; the interior was either hand-buffed genuine grain leather in black red, green, blue or tan; or combination leather and Whipcord.
The Pontiac chassis saw few changes from the pre-war design. The six cylinder clutch disc was upgraded to the same size and torque capacity of the eight cylinder unit. A new clutch release bearing was also utilized. It benefitted from improved ball bearing design learned during the war, plus improved seals which meant that it was lubricated for life. Pontiac continued to offer its economy, 3.90:1 axle ratio at no charge; the same was true for the 4.55:1 mountain ratio. Probably the most significant change was the increase in wheel width from 4.5 to 5 inches. This was done to accommodate the synthetic rubber tires that were being introduced; another war-time innovation. The synthetic tires effectively doubled the life expectancy of natural rubber tires previously used. A new jack was provided that used a ratchet mechanism, the car was raised by either the front or rear bumper. Finally, a new, improved muffler was being fitted to the 1946 models. It featured a thicker steel shell and heavier internal parts, the outer shell continued to be Terne-coated steel to resist corrosion.
Pontiac engines were thoroughly proven by 1946; although they both continued to receive minor detail changes. Shot-peened wrist pins were introduced for both the six and eight cylinder engines. This was done to improve the durability without having to resort to enlarging them, which would have required a redesign of the piston and connecting rod, as well. The water pump shaft was fitted with a brass slinger to prevent any coolant that seeped past the seal from entering the shaft bearings, causing corrosion. The six cylinder carburetor was improved to include vacuum actuation of the metering rod, in addition to the mechanical over-ride. The eight cylinder engines had had this type of system for several years. The terminals on both ends of the spark plug wires were improved to provide a more secure connection to the plug and the distributor cap. The battery tray was strengthened and the hold-down was given a doubled enamel coating to enhance its corrosion protection. The mounting hardware was lead-coated for the same reason.
The standard and optional compression ratio, for either the six or eight cylinder engines, remained unchanged at 6.5 and 7.5 respectively. The straight eight produced 103 horsepower at 3,500 rpm, while the six was for rated 90 horsepower at 3,200 rpm. The eight developed 190 lb.ft. of torque at 2,200 rpm while the torque output for the six was 175@1,400.
A vacuum booster fuel pump was standard on the eight cylinder engine and optional on the six. The remainder of the option list carried over from 1942 with one notable new addition; foam seat cushions appeared for the first time as a Pontiac option.
Production ended on December 30th, 1946 with a total run of 137,640 automobiles. Labor unrest kept production totals far below what had been expected, and also accounted for some the materials shortages, especially steel. One surprising statistic did emerge once all of the figures were in, the demand for eight cylinder engines nearly equaled that for the six cylinder models.
We wish to thank Gary Winters and Dave Luken for providing their Pontiac literature to us.
Gary Winters with his '46