Classic American

EL CATALINA

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There were a lot of changes taking place around the Pontiac Motor Division when the planning was taking place for the release of the new 1959 model year cars. The major news was the debut of the Wide Track design, a term used to describe the new five-inch wider front and rear track of the 1958 models, which Pontiac advertising touted as being “a dramatic, provable advance in fundamental design”. Combined with the new lower, sleeker styling, the new body design of the 1959 line did a lot to dissipate the ‘old person’s car’ image that the division had been suffering from for several years.

One of the first things noticeable on these new Pontiacs, besides the aggressive, wider stance, was the stylish split grille used in the front. Also, Pontiac stylists resisted using wild, outrageous fins as some of the other auto makers did in the era. In addition, magazine gave it their Car of The Year award, and rated it as being the “best buy in the $2000 to $3000 class” which really said a lot, as there were several marques in that price bracket. Things were looking good for the automaker, and it was all done under the direction of Bunkie Knudsen, the general manager, who was brought in for the 1956 model year. His goal was to turn the division around and to give it a fresh and youthful appearance to gain younger buyers.

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