Well known tomato farmer Herm Dick and I were having coffee recently around 6 a.m. at Tim Hortons on Erie Street South in Leamington when he mentioned that his dad was fond of buying Pontiacs. The list included a ’46, a ’50, a ’52, a ’56 and others. A photo of a 1950 Streamliner is reproduced here to bring back memories for Herm, who remembers driving all his dad’s Pontiacs.
The family Pontiacs were purchased from Ray A. Young, a Pontiac-Buick dealer in Leamington for many years. Ray was born in nearby Wheatley in 1899 and sold his first GM car when he was still a teenager. When he finally retired in 1981, he had been selling cars for GM for 64 years, a cross-Canada record that is probably still unbroken.
I landed my first summer job at age 15 in 1957 as the “wash boy” at 50 cents an hour on Ray Young’s used car lot. I still remember a 1950 Pontiac parked on the lot with that big dazzling grille. The car was seven years old at the time and I spent lots of elbow grease trying to bring out the best shine possible on all that chrome. It was a fastback, just like the one pictured here, and I enjoyed looking at its sleek silhouette and at the famous Pontiac streaks on the hood and trunk lid.
The car you see in the picture is currently owned by Paul Calderone of Toronto, who purchased his dark blue metallic 1950 Pontiac Streamliner two-door fastback four years ago from Al Webster, a classic car dealer north of Toronto. A decoding of the V.I.N. indicated Paul’s car had been built in Southgate, California. Under the hood is a 239 cubic inch flathead inline six cylinder cranking out 90 horsepower and bolted to a three-speed column-shift transmission. Also available that year was a flathead straight eight with 268 cubic inches cranking out 108 horsepower.
Nineteen-fifty was a record year for Pontiac with nearly 466,500 cars, breaking the previous all-time record in 1941. Also noteworthy for 1950 was the arrival of the first Pontiac hardtop, the Catalina, available in the Chieftain series, and instantly popular with almost ten per cent of all 1950 Pontiacs sold. Chevrolet also brought out its first hardtop that same year, the Bel Air.
The Pontiac nameplate has now been discontinued, but as long as Pontiacs like Paul Calderone’s 1950 Streamliner show up at car shows and cruise nights, these cars will never be forgotten.
Written by Bill Sherk The Old Car Detective
I’m always looking for more stories. Email email@example.com or write Bill Sherk, 25 John St., P.O. Box 255, Leamington, ON N8H 3W2. Everyone whose story is published in this column will receive a free autographed copy of my latest book: “OLD CAR DETECTIVE FAVOURITE STORIES, 1925 to 1965.”