A car for "every purse and purpose" was the aim of General Motors chief Alfred Sloan in the 1920s, which inspired the company to make the 1930 Pontiac 6-30-8.
A $250 gap existed between the two-door sedans built by Chevrolet and the next step up, Oldsmobile. At a time when $260 could buy a Ford roadster, Sloan knew GM was missing a few purses.
Meanwhile, many owners of four-cylinder Fords and Chevrolets aspired to move up to a car with six cylinders. In 1926, GM met both of those needs when the Pontiac was introduced to fill the gap with an affordable six-cylinder car.
To keep production costs low, Pontiac shared many components with Chevrolet, although Pontiac was built and marketed by GM's Oakland Division. With Oakland sales falling, Sloan thought a companion make was needed to prop up the division and its dealers.
Pontiac was named for Oakland's hometown of Pontiac, Michigan. The town was named for an Ottawa Indian chief who united the Great Lakes Native American tribes to attack Fort Detroit.
Although a two-year siege (1763-1764) was unsuccessful, Chief Pontiac gained a reputation as a skilled warrior. His image would appear on Pontiac emblems and in company advertising. Pontiac would continue to use an American Indian motif into the late 1950s.
The Pontiac "Chief of the Sixes" was a hit and it outsold parent Oakland every year. Sales of Oaklands continued to falter and it was discontinued after 1931. Pontiac made steady improvements to the original design through 1930, when the Pontiac 6-30-8 was built. Four-wheel mechanical brakes were adopted in 1928. In 1929, when Chevrolet got its own six, Pontiac's L-head engine grew from 186 to 200 cid to maintain Pontiac's step-up position. The 60-bhp six provided a 45-mph cruising speed. The mohair-lined interior was spacious thanks to a 110-inch wheelbase. The Pontiac New Series Big Six line of 1930 offered an eight-model range: two- and four-door sedans, coupes, roadsters, and a touring car. At $875, the Custom sedan was the most expensive offering, but was reduced to $785 midyear to stimulate sales during the first full year of the Great Depression. The price did not include the spare tires, bumpers, or trunk.
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