Friday, November 26, 2010

1931 Pontiac: "Chief Jalopy?"

Cardboard window filler optional. As was tread on the tires, apparently! At least the owner had an AAA membership.

V I N T A G E   P H O T O S — Written underneath these photos in the album I found them in is, "What a car." I don't remember anyone in my family ever talking about a 1931 Pontiac sedan, so I think it might have been borrowed or possibly belonged to a friend. The photo was dated 1946, making this car 15 years old at the time and a survivor of wartime metal drives. The lack of tread on the tires is a result of the times as well—I'd bet the owner had to use those tires for the duration of the Second World War, and even afterwards, rubber was in short supply. I'm pretty sure the inscription was sarcastic, judging from the bald tires, dented fenders, missing spare tire and the cardboard covering a broken window in the rear door. Even though it is, at first, a jalopy, a closer look shows it was rust free, and would be considered an "easy" restoration today. It's interesting that this '31 has a dividing trim piece on its radiator grille, as the divided grille would become a Pontiac trademark from 1959 until its recent demise in 2009, with very few exceptions.

Pontiac was introduced in 1926 as a companion marque to GM's Oakland division, but outsold the parent line almost immediately and replaced it completely in 1932. This '31 sported an L-Head (flathead, sidevalve) six cylinder engine, making 60 horsepower, a step up from a Ford Model A's 4 cylinders and 40 hp. The '31 offered a 112" wheelbase, also a step above the Ford's 106 inches. Beginning the next year, Pontiac offered its first straight-eight engine, basically the Oakland unit from the year before, and Ford rewrote history with its famed flathead V8.

• There is this one, too.
• And here's the Wiki for Oakland-Pontiac.



  2. My friend just got back from Botswana. I have posted some of her photos and her email story. An incredible adventure. If you are interested check it out.

  3. Hi Granny and Annie. Hi Casey and all those who haunt Casey's site!

    I love that car, Casey! It looks like people probably had a ton of fun in it. It reminds me of the Bonnie and Clyde car! And do I detect your favorite? Suicide doors!? Thanks for posting this. :)


  4. Awesome story, I remember watching some old news reels on video showing how rugged these jalopies were on snow. From one snowbank to the next, they were able to dodge in and out of them without an advanced AWD system.

    I'm also wondering if the 31 Ford was the same car that the 'good' mob boss used in Johnny Dangerously.

    - "Ya little muskrat, ya"...

  5. I think their snow abilities must have been from a combination of the very narrow and tall tires/wheels, and high ground clearance. I remember hearing stories of my mother's uncles driving their Model T Fords out onto the ice of Long Island sound one winter when the coastline froze for a mile or so!

  6. Could this actually be a 1930 Pontiac? There are no running/parking lights on the fenders so is this really an earlier year model? -AceZ

    1. It's marked '31 on the album page but people have been known to make mistakes. It could also have some pieces missing perhaps, after those hard 16 years, or perhaps had earlier fenders put on it at some point. I think most of it looks like a '31. Thanks for checking out the blog!