In GM’s hierarchy, the Cadillac companion car was the LaSalle, produced from 1927 to 1940. Buick built the Marquette from 1929 to 1931 while Oldsmobile offered the Viking from 1929 to 1930.
The most successful was Pontiac, which was the companion car to the Oakland. Pontiac was introduced in 1926 and the last Oakland was built in 1931.
As the Great Depression engulfed the entire country the base price of a Pontiac Deluxe four-door sedan was $725. A total of 62,888 Pontiac cars were produced in 1930. Beneath the long engine hood was a 200-cubic-inch, in-line, six-cylinder engine that developed 60 horsepower, more than sufficient to propel the 2,745-pound sedan.
One of those four-door sedans reportedly was purchased on the west coast by a man named Gander. After 30 years he took the Pontiac out of service, simply parking it in his garage in Columbia Hill, Calif.
In the mid-1960s, a logger driving by spotted the old car under the collapsed roof of a decaying garage. He approached the owner and offered to buy the car. His offer was rejected.
A few years later the same logger was on the same road and saw the same car. Once more he stopped to see if the owner had changed his mind. On this occasion the widow owner answered the door and she was pleased to transfer ownership of the Pontiac.
The once-handsome Pontiac was in need of a complete restoration. The new owner set about breathing new life into the car. The engine was overhauled, all six of the 16-inch tires were replaced, new gray mohair upholstery was installed and the bi-wing bumpers were replated with chrome. The car rolled on a 110-inch wheelbase.
While air passing through the radiator helps keep the engine cool, the 31 vertical louvers on each side of the hood allow a place for engine heat to escape. Each front fender provides a base for the side-mounted spare tires. Behind each spare tire is a cowl light.
The restoration was deemed complete when the lemon-colored pinstriping was applied to the freshly painted black fenders and dark maroon body. As gorgeous as the rejuvenated car was the second owner could never get the engine performing properly. Adding to the dilemma, the mechanic who overhauled the engine had died. The frustrated owner then parked the Pontiac in the garage of his Strawberry, Calif., home and left it there for 18 years.
This is where Russell Noble, the current owner, enters the picture. Noble saw the Pontiac in his neighbor’s garage and for more than a decade the Pontiac owner rejected his offers to buy the car. In the summer of 2007 perseverance was rewarded and Noble bought the Pontiac.
“It wasn’t running and was infested with rodents,” but Noble admits, “I just loved the car.”
After the car was dormant for such a long time Noble needed a plan of attack to bring it back to life. A systematic cleaning seemed to be the first order.
“Surprisingly,” he says, “a lot of elbow grease showed it was still in pretty good shape.”
A shop manual was found on the eBay that instructed Noble in several areas. “I put break-in oil in the engine and methodically hand-cranked it over and over for a couple of weeks to get the engine thoroughly lubricated,” he explains.
With new points, spark plugs and a condenser in place, Noble turned to a retired mechanic for help in getting the old car running.
“He discovered that the previous power problem had everything to do with the incorrect firing order. Now it is purring like a kitten,” Noble says. — Vern Parker, Motor Matters