2016 Shannons Melbourne Spring Classic Auction

1938 Pontiac Business Coupe (RHD)


Passed In


Engine In-line 6-cylinder, 223-cid
Gearbox 3-speed manual
Body Work Coupe
Colour Dark Blue
Interior Tan
Trim Vinyl
Wheels Steel Disc
Brakes Drum


This lot is no longer available

Officially launched at the 1926 New York Automobile Show, the Pontiac marque enjoyed an impressive debut, setting a new sales record for parent company General Motors in its maiden year. Filling a gap in GM’s line-up between the lower priced Chevrolet and more upmarket Oldsmobiles, the Pontiac name was taken from the township in Michigan where the first plant was established, the town itself named after a legendary Indian Chief. Initially powered by an in-line six, Pontiac’s model range expanded to include a V8 in 1932, but it proved expensive to produce and consequently was offered for one year only. From 1933 the only engine available was a straight eight but two years later a six was reintroduced to the line-up; both engines grew in size and power for 1937, capacity of the six rising to 223-cid, with a healthy output of 85 horsepower. The sturdy X-member frame chassis was longer too, by five inches, to accommodate larger bodywork on the 117-inch wheelbase while other notable features included improved steering and two-piece propeller shaft. The styling of Pontiac’s Series 26 Deluxe – the official name given to the six – was all new for 1937 as well, with one-piece all-steel bodywork, taller bonnet line and turret tops on closed models. No less than nine body styles were catalogued, including the usual range of coupes, convertibles, sedans and for the first time, a station wagon, priced from $781 to $1,197. Imported in chassis form and bodied locally by Holden’s Motor Body Builders Ltd, Pontiacs were sold in Australia from as early as 1927, with local content including tyres, batteries and paint. Given the costs of tooling to make these bodies, Holden’s body range was limited to the coupe and sedan models, both sharing a number of panels also used on Chevrolet, Buick and Oldsmobiles sold here, giving the Australian-bodied Pontiacs a unique appearance. Production figures of the Pontiac coupe, known as coloquially as a ‘Sloper’, at the Woodville plant were relatively low. Respected author and historian Norm Darwin records that 166 sixes and 23 eights were made in 1937, followed by 138 sixes and no eights the following year, with few survivors on the road today. Production of the ‘Sloper’ came to an end in 1940, ironically around the same time GM’s parent company began offering it on the American market.