mericans in the '50s were fascinated by the future. Newspapers and magazines were full of stories about futuristic technology-rocket ships, jet airplanes, and even television. Car companies were quick to capitalize on the trend, offering a dizzying variety of fantastic show cars. They were shipped from one city to another, and people would line up around the block for a glimpse of the latest chromed and finned creation.

One of these special cars was the Pontiac Bonneville Special. Designed by renowned GM designer Harley Earl, the car was inspired by a trip to the Bonneville salt flats. The car was never intended for production; the idea was to show the public that Pontiac was leading the industry in innovative thinking. Features like a plexiglass roof with gull wing door panels, a sleek fiberglass body, bucket seats, and a futuristic interior gave the public an insight into what the car of the future might look like.

Two of these cars were built so they could be displayed simultaneously at the Los Angeles and Detroit Auto Shows. The example offered here is believed to be the California car. With repair and conservation, it should be possible to preserve much of the car's originality. Of course, a full restoration would allow an astute collector to recreate the amazing impact the Bonneville Special had when new.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special
Years Produced:1954
Number Produced:2
Tune Up Cost:$50
Chassis Number Location:Plate on front door hinge pillar
Engine Number Location:Front left block corner
Club Info:Pontiac-Oakland Club Intl., PO Box 9569, Bradenton, FL, 34206. 941.750.9234
Alternatives:Chrysler Turbine, Giugiaro Scarabao

RM sold this car for $236,250 at the Meadowbrook Concours in Rochester, MI, on July 31, 1999.

Comments are closed.