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1935-1936 Pontiac

1935 Pontiac Mechanics

The 1935 Pontiac mechanics were an updated and improved version of the basic "double-drop" chassis design that was used in the two previous model years. This chassis was available in two different wheelbases and with two different front suspension systems, depending on model.

The woodgrained instrument panel imposed strict symmetry on the 1935 Pontiac dash.
The wood-grained instrument panel imposed
strict symmetry on the 1935 Pontiac dash.

The DeLuxe Six and Improved Eights continued to use an independent front suspension carried over from the 1934 Pontiacs, designed by French racer and inventor, André Dubonnet. It was marketed as the "Knee-Action" front suspension.

Chevrolet and Pontiac used this system, while Oldsmobile, Cadillac, LaSalle, and Buick used a better system designed by Cadillac. Interest­ingly, both designs used the Knee-Action moniker.

Perhaps the most significant change from the past came in the braking department. Gone was the previous mechanical braking system and in its place was a better-performing and more reliable hydraulic system featuring drums at all four corners.

This new design was part of an industry-wide shift to the safer hy­draulics, though it would be a while before all manufacturers would make the conversion.

Two wheelbases were used for the 1935 Pontiac. Six-cylinder models used a 112-inch wheelbase, while eights were perched on a 116.6-inch chassis. Eights used longer front sheetmetal and running boards to make up the difference. Overall lengths checked in at 189 inches and 193.6 inches, respectively.

When the 1935 Pontiacs were introduced on December 29, 1934, there were two series, the aforementioned DeLuxe Six and Improved Eight. Body styles included a pair of coupes, a two-seater and a "sport coupe" with rumble seat; two- and four-door sedans; and two- and four-door Touring sedans.

The Touring sedans had extended built-in trunks, while the sedans had flat backs with a hatch that gave access to the spare tire stored within. A cabriolet convertible with a rumble seat was also offered in each series.

There were also a couple of interesting variations on the coupe body, including the "Doctor's Special" and an "Opera Coupe." The Doctor's Special used a specially designed front seat with a compartment in the back that housed a matching medical bag.

The Opera Coupe featured a single jump seat that folded out of the rear bulkhead on the driver's side. It was actually a preproduction experiment, of which approximately 50 were built. A handful survive today, including one original-condition Im­proved Eight model.

The only available transmission was a fully synchronized floor-shifted three-speed manual unit. It transferred power through a torque tube to the semifloating rear axle.

Six-cylinder cars came with a 4.44:1 differential ratio, while eights received a 4.55:1 ratio. Six-cylinder models came with 16×6.00 balloon-type tires mounted on wire-spoke wheels. Eights used 16×6.50 balloon tires affixed to steel artillery-spoke wheels.

Optional equipment for DeLuxe Six and Improved Eight models was not extensive by modern standards, but was on par with other makes in the medium-price field in that era.

One could choose such available equipment as antifreeze, wheel discs, trim rings, dual sidemount spares, bumper guards, a couple of kinds of heaters, "Air Mate" and "Air Chief" radios, a vanity mirror, luggage set, dash-mounted watch, and a glovebox smoker set.

In February 1935, a new price-leader Standard Six series was introduced in all body styles except the cabriolet and rumble-seat coupe. Prices were $50-$60 cheaper than their DeLuxe Six counterparts.

While $60 doesn't seem like much, it was about nine percent of the cost of a Deluxe Six business coupe. Knock nine percent off the price of a new car today and one can get an idea of what $60 meant to a car shopper 72 years ago.

The differences between the Standard and DeLuxe were mostly mechanical. The most significant changes were located in the front suspension. The Dubonnet design was not used on the Standard. In its stead was a simpler and, as it would turn out, a more reliable solid I-beam front axle supported by semi-elliptic leaf springs.

Other changes in the interest of cost savings included a three-speed manual transmission with a nonsynchronized first gear, a lack of fender-top parking lamps, and a single taillamp. The rear-quarter windows of four-door Standards lacked the crank-open vents of their costlier siblings.

Black fenders and running boards were used in this series regardless of body color. The dual sidemounts available as optional equipment on the DeLuxe Six and Improved Eight models could not be ordered on the Standard Six.

The new model lineup and the addition of the six-cylinder engine proved to be a very profitable move for Pontiac. Like most other manufacturers during the Great Depression, Pontiac had lost ground in sales.

While many other manufacturers were not able to survive the grave economic situation, Klingler and his management team had hit upon just the right mix of attractive products and affordable pricing.

Production numbers were up dramatically from the previous model year and actually firmed up Pontiac's position in the lower mid-price field. Pontiac turned out 129,468 of the 1935s, an increase of 50,609 cars from the 1934 model year.

Though sales of eight-cylinder Pontiacs dropped considerably, the production total of the new sixes alone surpassed 1934's output tally. Clearly, the six-cylinder models were the right cars for the time.

To follow the evolution with the 1936 Pontiac, continue on to the next page.

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