1947 Pontiac, a Fine Car Made Finer
The Pontiac line for ’47 was a complete carry-over of the models that Pontiac had in production by the end of the ’46 model year. The major automobile manufacturers were struggling with labor unrest and materials shortages, while trying to satisfy the demand for new cars that was caused by the lack of civilian automobile production due to World War II. Studebaker released new models this year, the first major manufacturer to offer post-war designs to the public. Kaiser-Frazier released their respective cars as well; the company set up production at Willow Run in part of the huge assembly plant built by Henry Ford to build B-24 Liberator bombers. The Kaiser-Frazier nameplates didn’t exist prior to the war, but the automobiles they released in 1947 were absolutely conventional in construction and styling, so hardly could be considered “new” post-war machines.
Pontiac continued with the Torpedo and Streamliner designations. The short wheelbase Torpedo, Series 25 or 27 depending upon the use of the six or eight cylinder engine; offered a Business Coupe, Sport Coupe, Sedan Coupe, Convertible Coupe, plus 2 and 4 door Sedans. The Streamliner models used the larger B-body, Series 26 or28 designating the engine installed; was limited to the Sedan Coupe, a 4 door Sedan and 2 Station Wagons, in either Standard or Deluxe trim. It is a matter of fact that the Series designations were not strictly adhered to; there were Series 25/26 cars built with the straight eight. In some cases, a supplementary body tag listed this fact; in others, the “option” line on the standard body plate was stamped with the number “8” to indicate the installation of the larger engine. It would appear that Pontiac did not expect the demand for eight cylinder engines to be so great, regardless of why Series 25/26 cars received straight eights, it is also a fact that for the first time in Pontiac history, eight cylinder automobile production exceeded that of the six cylinder models when the final count was tallied.
Pontiac designers revised the front-end styling slightly for 1947, the grille consisting of 4 rounded horizontal bars while the parking lamps remained within the grille just below the headlights. The Pontiac name and a highly stylized Indianhead adorned the top of the grille; the famous Silver Streaks began just above, with 5 bright lines running along the centerline of the hood to the base of the windshield. There was no engine identification on the grille or the hood side trim; nor was there any difference in the hood ornament to distinguish which engine was used. This broke a long-standing tradition at Pontiac, in years’ past, the eight cylinder models were always identified by a unique hood ornament and/or by the number “8” or lettering to denote the fact the car had an eight cylinder engine under the hood.
There were seven solid colors and 3 two-tone combinations available this year. The Streamliner sedans got Grey Stripe cloth upholstery; the Torpedoes were either Grey Tan cloth or Tan and Blue Dark Pattern cloth. Convertibles featured five colors of genuine leather in combination with Tan Bedford cloth; Black, Tan, Green, Blue or Red. There were also 3 combinations of imitation leather and Tan Bedford cloth; Red, Tan or Blue. Genuine leather was apparently also in short supply during 1947, some convertible are known to have been built using the imitation leather in its place. The dashboard and window garnish moldings were Berwick Beige and Autumn Brown. All models featured dual sun visors, automatic dome light, cigar lighter, front and rear ashtrays and an inside hood release.
Dual windshield wipers and tail lamps were also standard equipment on all Pontiac models. The station wagon tail lamps pivoted so they still shone rearward when the tailgate was in the open (horizontal) position.
The chassis specifications remained tried and true; the Torpedo models used a 119 inch wheelbase and rode 6.00x16 tires; the Streamliner was slightly longer at 122 inches and used larger 6.50x16 tires. The steering gear ratio was 19:1 and link-parallelogram type linkage connected the front wheels on either chassis.
The rear springs were wrapped in metal jackets to retain the lubricant and keep out dirt, this feature was offered as optional equipment on some other brands of cars.
Telescopic shock absorbers were fitted to stabilize the rear axle. The standard axle ratios also remained unchanged; the Torpedo at 4.10:1 and the Streamliner used 4.30:1, plus Pontiac continued to offer an “economy” (3.90:1) and a “mountain” (4.55:1) axle ratio in either series at no charge. The three speed transmission was synchronized on second and third gears, with a column mounted shifter standard on all models.
Pontiac engines carried over as well; their reputation for durability and longevity was already well established. The engines shared all technical features, including the installation of Pontiac’s exclusive oil cleaner in the oil pan. The only real differences were the use of a two barrel carburetor on the Eight, and that the compound fuel / vacuum pump was standard on the Eight but optional on the Six. According to Pontiac figures, the 239cid Six produced 90 horsepower @ 3,200rpm and the 248cid straight Eight was rated for 103hp @ 3,500rpm. It is interesting to note that the 16th edition (1953) of the Motor’s Manual rates the Six for 93hp @ 3,400rpm and 175lbft of torque @ 1,400rpm; the Eight was rated 107hp @ 3,700rpm and 190lbft of torque at 2,000rpm. I suspect this difference might be attributed to Pontiac showing power figures for the standard 6.5:1 engines and Motor using specifications for the optional 7.5:1 high compression engines. Later Pontiac service information does list horsepower and torque numbers for both low and high compression engines. (If anyone can offer additional insight on this, please contact the editor.)
The only noteworthy change for 1947 was the use of a new carburetor on the Eight. The Carter WDO unit, tagged 548S, was used through engine number 12,388; beginning with engine 12,389, a model WCD Carter unit, tag No. 630S was installed. A conversion package, Group No. 3.727, Part No. 510614, appeared in the 1948 Wholesale Parts Catalog that enabled the installation of the WCD carburetor on any Pontiac Eight that was originally equipped with the WDO carburetor.
The list of optional equipment available to the Pontiac buyer was extensive, including probably the finest heater and defroster unit available in any automobile. The Pontiac Venti-Heat unit featured an under-seat heater and separate defroster for the windshield. The heater was thermostatically controlled and could vary the temperature inside the car based upon the temperature of the outside air. A less expensive cowl-mounted heater/defroster was available, as well. There were 3 radio sets to choose from: the 5-tube Master, 7-tube Air Mate and 8-tube Air King units, all utilizing a mast type antenna. A wide variety of additional lights were also available; turn signals, fog lights, “spot” lights and a back-up lamp all contributed to driver safety. The luggage compartment light, under-hood trouble light, lighted visor vanity mirror and an electric clock offered driver and passenger convenience. Outside mirrors were available, plus a non-glare inside rear view mirror, windshield washers and a dealer-installed rear window wiper. Foam rubber seat cushions were available, as were a wide selection of seat covers to protect the upholstery. Bumper guards and rear fender panels, (skirts) could be fitted to all models, as could bright wheel trim rings and white-wall tires.
Pontiac offered 2 no-cost options from the factory, the 7.5:1 high compression cylinder head and either the “economy” or “mountain” axle ratio.
Production began in December, 1946 and 230,600 cars were produced for the model year; with 109,461 Six cylinder cars and 121,139 Eight cylinder cars. The break-down along model lines was 101,940 for the Torpedo, while the larger B-body Streamliner accounted for 128,660 cars.
Thank you to Bob Graves for providing the 1947 Pontiac Brochure used for this model year feature.