Pageside Classics: When Pontiac Was At The Top Of Its Game

If Paul’s 1994-96 GP post yesterday got you CCers down, here’s the antidote: Pontiac in its prime. While the cars themselves looked awfully good, the wonderful artwork by Van Kaufman and Art Fitzpatrick, seen in advertisements and dealer brochures from the ’50s through 1971, made them timeless.

What’s the polar opposite of the rather plain blue 1994-96 GP? Why, a pink-and-black 1958 Chieftain convertible, of course. This one doesn’t appear to be a V&F illustration, but still looks pretty cool. In ’58 the Chieftain wasn’t even the top-of-the-line Pontiac, but it still had flair in spades. And how about that matching interior on the left?

Life was a beach in 1959 if you had a copper ’59 Bonnie convertible. Gas was cheap, cars had fins, and Studebaker was still in business, thanks to the Lark. My grandmother had one of these in Catalina trim, but it was even more dramatic, in metallic lilac with a white interior. Yes, you could get colors back then. You were spoiled for colors!

Some of Van and Fitz’s most excellent artwork were the nighttime shots, like this ’60 drop-top Bonneville. In fact, my favorite V&F picture is the one at the very top of this post, with another ’60 convertible speeding towards a marina with docked boats. A far cry from today’s brochures, which usually show a black or gray car in a plain background, with no people or interesting architecture around. Sometimes, you’d think you were reading a Kenmore appliance catalog!

Not so with the Poncho brochures of the ’50s, ’60s and early ’70s. The images shown here are some of my favorite pictures from that time period. They were so neat.

Even into the beginning of the Great Brougham Epoch, you could walk into a Pontiac showroom and come out with your own small piece of automotive art. Sadly, 1971 was the last year the V&F team illustrated for Pontiac, though later on they did similar work for Opel in Germany.

If these lovely images don’t take the sting of later badge-engineered Pontiacs, check out the earlier V&F post on CC, which you can find here. And there’s always the Pontiac section at, if that isn’t enough for you. I don’t know about you, but I feel better already!