In the 1950s, Americans were fascinated by the future. Newspapers and magazines were full of stories about futuristic technology and their imagery. Car companies were quick to capitalize on this trend and offered a dazzling variety of fantastic, futuristic show cars, some of which toured with the annual General Motors Motoramas. One of these special cars was the Pontiac Bonneville Special.
Renowned GM designer Harley Earl was inspired by a trip to the Bonneville salt flats. He wanted to create a car which captured the essence of the Bonneville racers and show the public that Pontiac was leading the industry in innovative thinking.
Designed as Pontiac’s answer to the Chevrolet Corvette, the flashy 1954 Bonneville Special conveys a look of high speed. Following the trend of jet-age styling, the Bonneville features a distinctive aircraft-style Plexiglas bubble top with gull-wing glass door tops over the cockpit and the a radical continental kit, designed to look like a jet turbine.
Only two of these cars were built so they could be displayed simultaneously at the Los Angeles and Detroit Auto Shows. After touring the country for spectators to see, Motorama concept cars were typically destroyed. However, these two Pontiacs somehow avoided their date with the crusher and survived.
One of the surviving Bonneville Specials will be up for sale at the upcoming Barrett Jackson Auction in December. Since the odometer has logged less than 800 miles, the lucky bidder will be receiving a largely original vintage concept car, a privilege usually reserved for the manufacturers themselves.