Although it wasn’t approved for production, the concept car inspired the second-generation Chieftain and Star Chief models that arrived in 1955. It wasn’t until 1958 that Pontiac launched the Bonneville, but it used the name on a very special version of the Star Chief in 1957.
Launched as a two-door convertible only, the 1957 Bonneville was very similar to the Star Chief on the outside except for a bit of extra chrome, but it had lots of extra goodies in the convenience department.
The list of standard features included everything Pontiac had to offer at the time, including a passed dashboard, leather interior, eight-way power bench seat, Wonderbar radio, power windows, steering, and brakes.
The uniqueness of the 1957 Bonneville also extended under the hood because Pontiac used the limited-edition drop-top to launch a fuel-injected V8 engine.
Similar to the Rochester Ramjet unit that Chevrolet was offering in the Bel Air at the time, the 347-cubic-inch (5.7-liter) mill delivered 315 horsepower. For reference, the Strato Streak that powered the regular Star Chief came with 290 horses on tap.
But all of the above made the Bonneville quite expensive. Priced at almost $5,800 in 1957 (about $56,000 in 2022 dollars), the range-topping model was almost two times more expensive than the Star Chief it was based on.
More importantly, it was pricier than the Cadillac Series 62 De Ville and Lincoln Premiere.
And since Pontiac was well aware that it couldn’t outrun its rivals, it built only 630 cars, one for each U.S. dealer. Come 2022 and the 1957 Bonneville is a one-year wonder that commands six-figure sums at public auctions.
Leave a Reply