Saturday, March 29, 2014

Danville Street Sighting - 1948 Pontiac DeLuxe Torpedo Convertible

This was easily one of my favorite cars to photograph so far this year. Which is funny, given that the 1948 Pontiacs have never been on my short list of favorite cars. There are just so many cool Art Deco details on this beast, I couldn't help myself.

Pontiac was getting ready to reveal its all-new 1949 lineup when their postwar Torpedo range was refreshed for one more year. The DeLuxe Torpedo was available with a straight six or eight-cylinder engine, neither of which were particularly notable. What was notable, however, was the addition of the Hydra-Matic automatic transmission as an option. Pontiac was the third GM brand to receive the fully automatic gearbox (Buick's Dynaflow automatic was a different design), and buyers must have loved it because 71% of all 1948 Pontiacs came equipped with one.

It was news to me to learn that Silver Streak 8 is not the car's model name, but rather the sales name of the L-head straight-eight engine. Silver Streak was also a design theme lasting from the 1930s into the mid-1950s, consisting of bright chrome "streaks" extending from the center of the grille up over the hood and, on occasion, down the trunk lid as well. Perhaps Silver Streak should have been the actual model name, as "DeLuxe" sounds generic and in 1948 was used by Ford, Plymouth, Dodge, DeSoto, Oldsmobile, Packard, Chevrolet and Kaiser. Torpedo was a less common name, used by Buick and more famously by Tucker that year.

This Torpedo is a beautiful example, a fine driver that could hold its own at local shows. The body is lovely, the trim is all there, and the chrome is good. The only blemishes I found were a couple of rock chips and a small dent in one of the hubcaps. I'm sure it's a fairly recent restoration but it looks gorgeous, down to the tan and brown interior with its beige Bakelite knobs and steering wheel, wonderful Art Deco AM radio and clock. It was a lucky find on a sunny Saturday and I'm very happy to have had the chance to shoot it. This blog needs more '40s cars!


  1. Great find, great car. I own one myself, a 4 door sedan model. In 1948 there were two models. The Torpedo and the Streamliner. Both had 2 and 4 door sedan models, the Torpedo had the Convertible and the Streamliner had the woodie wagon. The difference between them was the wheelbase. The Streamliner being the longer one. There was a base trim and a DeLuxe trim. DeLuxe meant full hubcaps (dog dish with additional beauty ring), chrome trim on the fender and door, luxurious steering wheel and some other parts.

    You can (if you'd like) look at mine at

    1. I looked at your website. Beautiful car. I'm finding that I like old sedans and wagons sometimes more than the fancy coupes and convertibles favored by collectors. It looks like you've owned quite a few classic cars. When I looked through your gallery I wondered where was this "California Classics" place you purchased many of them from? There was a dealership in my area that called itself Kassabian's California Classics for years, but has relocated and renamed itself My Hot Cars. Now I see that your California Classics is a place in the Netherlands that imports cars from my state to sell in Europe. Interesting. I know that big old American cars have a pretty strong following in certain areas of the continent. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Thanks for the nice words. I also favour the sedans and wagons. The Pontiac we now have is the 6th US classic in 17 years. I started at the age of 18 with a 1960 Fleetwood, 4 more followed and now we have this 1948 Pontiac. I love it!

    California Classics is a company in the Netherlands. The guy buys his cars in Arizona where he has a house. So California is only a part of the name.

    Europe has a lot of US cars, especially Sweden and England. But in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium are a lot of them too. We go to many events to see them.

    Greetings from the Netherlands,