Pontiac Bonneville Coupe 1959






scale 1:18

Model number: 5173


Review of the model:

If you as me, like low wide US cars from the fifties, you may have heard of the Pontiac Bonneville Coupe from 1959. Or you have seen fantastic drawings of cars, there was so low and wide like no others. It might be art work from the famous Advertising campaign “Wide track” by the artists Art Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman. Yes we are talking of, in my opinion, on of the most gorgeous cars ever! -The Pontiac Bonneville.

We are so lucky that Sun Star in scale 1:18, have made the models of Convertible-open and closed, but also the beautiful Coupe hardtop. Mine here is the hardtop in the fantastic color Cameo Ivory / Dundee Green. Mr. Richard Rawlings of Gas Monkey Garage also just love that color. I’m all in to this. There is something about a big car in metallic light green.

When we speak about the paint work; Sun Star has again made a marvelous job here. The small metal flakes in the paint are very realistic in their size. The prep work and spraying is flawless. This color goes well to all the chrome panels and ornaments. If I could pick a car from that year, this car, in this color will be a first choice. When we open the doors a modern and stylish interior welcomes us. This model car, give us the same feeling. Nothing here needs to be hided away from praying eyes. Take a look at the seats, with a design and color combination, which will challenge a high-end car manufacturer. One of the features of this Pontiac is the vast panoramic glass area. Here the model is well made with only minor distortions in the windows.

As with many cars from this period, the rear end is a bold statement in chrome, lights and fins. We have double fins at the top, but under the car fins are also protruding, as they were a matter of self-defense for the car. Imagine the time well spent, on polish these sharp teeth. When we open the trunk a whole cargo-bay emerge. Here there’s space for lots of suitcases and a kitchen sink too. Note how fine SunStar have included the carpet and cover for the spare wheel. The inside of the trunk lid is padded with sound insulation just as the real car.

Photo etched grill and emblems decorate the model, all small things here are well made.

If you are a new collector and will only have one car in your collection. This model car should be in your consideration. This very model is one of the best in mine. I can highly recommend Sun Star Pontiac Bonneville Coupe 1959.

I will give this model 6 out of 6 stars  ******

Below here are pictures of the model, historical description, old brochures, technical data and a little movie clip for the real car. So please enjoy!





Motorama style picture



Wide track - over 2 meters in span

  A fast car with an attitude  
Oh what a rear end!
Note the small gab between the door and fenders
A beautiful color combination out and inside
Fine details all over
Bonneville is the leader of the pack from Pontiac
Fins fins fins!
A trunk as vast as an apartment
This model car is good looking from all angels
Lots of chrome on the instrument panel and gauges
The car looked modern way up in the sixties
Sun star have a well made model car here
Big white walls on the tires
A true rocket ship for the common man in the fifties
A must have item for the collector





If you saw a Pontiac ad or brochure from 1959 through 1971, you were probably admiring the work of Arthur Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick, along with his collaborator, Van Kaufman, produced all of Pontiac’s illustrations, and Pontiac relied more heavily on artwork than other automakers in the Sixties. Their work is identified by the initials “AF VK.”

Art Fitzpatrick started as an auto stylist. Preferring the freelance life to the corporate world, he switched to advertising illustrations after World War II. He did work for Mercury, Kaiser, Buick, and others before signing an exclusive contract with Pontiac.

Fitzpatrick had a talent for capturing shadows and reflections on cars. He also admitted that he “enhanced” the proportions. Pontiac was touting its “Wide Track” stance, so Fitzpatrick naturally made his cars wide. With Fitzpatrick’s deft hand, this enhancement made the drawings more stunning.

Fitzpatrick drew the cars while Kaufman rendered the backgrounds. Both men traveled extensively and took photos for potential backgrounds. Pontiacs are shown on beaches, European streets, and ski slopes. Part of the appeal of a Fitzpatrick illustration is the sophisticated lifestyle shown. Fitzpatrick’s Pontiac world was never mundane.

Tempus fugit.  The classic Pontiac arrowhead hasn’t graced a motor vehicle in roughly five years now. Considering its ignominious end, it may be unbelievable to some that Pontiac was perhaps the most successful American automotive brand from 1959 to 1970.  Sure, it might have technically ranked third in sales, but Chevrolet and Ford have historically run on their own inertia, like boulders rolling down a hill.  Pontiac, on the other hand, excelled for a number of reasons, but it all really started with the “Wide-Track” advertising campaign and this jet-age Catalina.

Pontiac’s success depended largely on three car-loving executives: Bunkie Knudsen, Pete Estes, and John DeLorean.  Bunkie Knudsen, of course, was the man who drastically changed Pontiac’s image in the 1950s, and the “wide-track” moniker may or may not be directly attributable to him.  Perhaps apocryphally, Bunkie Knudsen told stylists to widen the track of the prototype ’59s because they looked like “football players wearing ballet slippers.”  In his article titled “Wide Track: Bunkie Knudsen, Pete Estes, and the Pontiac Renaissance,” however, Aaron Severson of “Ate up with Motor” explains that it was Chuck Jordan of GM Styling that initiated the “wide-track” stance, and Knudsen in particular latched on to the look.

Regardless, the “Wide-Track Pontiac” became a successful advertising campaign that led to a successful car. Pontiac’s gracefully illustrated advertisements by Art Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman were no less responsible for the new image than the “wide-track” wording.  Pontiac portrayed a youthful, vigorous image at just the right time, thanks to its forward-thinking executives.

Bunkie Knudsen gave them the credit they deserved: “Your efforts played a great part in bringing us to third place in the industry. Without them our job of moving Pontiac up the ladder would have been impossible".


 Mike McNessor

Pontiac was GM's shining star in 1959 and the refinements that set the brand apart in the Eisenhower era are still dazzling collectors today.

"In looks and behavior, the Pontiac, in a manner of speaking has moved into a better neighborhood," Popular Science wrote of the all-new 1959 models. "It's no longer merely an older, gawky brother of the Chevrolet."

"Wide Track" was a new buzzword cooked up by Pontiac's advertising agency to draw attention to the big car's broad stance. The old 347-cu.in. and 370-cu.in. Engines were out, in favor of the now-legendary 389--the only power plant available, but in six different horsepower ratings. Pontiac's signature split grille made its debut in 1959, while the familiar silver streaks and Indian-themed ornaments were gone. The entire lineup was reworked as well, for 1959, reflecting Pontiac's new direction: The Catalina was now the entry-level car, replacing the Chieftain; the Super Chief was gone and the Star Chief Custom was renamed Star Chief; the Safari wagon was promoted to the Bonneville series and Bonneville gained a four-door "Vista" hardtop; finally, convertibles were offered in the Catalina and Bonneville lines.

In all, there were 14 styles, ranging from the Catalina two-door sport sedan, the value leader at $2,633, all the way up to the top-of-the-line Bonneville Custom Safari Wagon, which started at $3,532. From there, you could start piling on the options: Circ-L-Aire Conditioning climate control; Sport able Transistor Radio, a radio that could be pulled from the dash to serve as a portable radio; power windows; E-Z-Eye tinted glass; six-way power seats; and Wonder Touch power brakes.

The buying public responded to the makeover, snapping up 382,940 Pontiacs in 1959 compared to 216,982 in 1958. The division's market share moved up a percentage point, and the company went from sixth to fourth place in the industry--foretelling Pontiac's ascendance as GM's sophisticated performance brand through the 1960s.

This was a complete turnaround from where Pontiac was in the years immediately following WWII. In the post-war years, Pontiac picked up where the company left off before the war--building good, reliable cars with flathead straight-six and straight-eight engines that were anything but exciting. That needed to change, and Pontiac started developing V-8 engines in 1949, but didn't produce a car with a V-8 until 1955. In 1956, Semon E. "Bunkie" Knudsen, son of former GM president William S. Knudsen and an engineer took the helm as Pontiac's general manager. Faced with the challenge of remaking the company's stodgy image, he ordered the signature silver streaks 86'ed for 1957 and enlisted the aid of a group of forward-thinking enthusiasts who would become synonymous with the brand's new image: engineers E.M. Pete Estes and John Z. DeLorean, as well as ad man Jim Wangers. Midway through '56, dual carburetors and aggressive camshafts woke up sleepy Pontiacs, and soon the cars joined the rest of Detroit on the oval tracks and drag strips of America.

The tipping point was 1959, and the Bonneville was leading the charge. Compared to the Impala's somewhat confusing, over-the-top styling, the Bonneville looked contemporary and relatively clean. The car's look benefited greatly from the decision to move the wheels further outboard than the rest of GM's full-size X-frame cars. While new wide-bodied Chevrolets seemed to have their wheels sunk deep inside the wells, Wide Track Pontiacs looked right from all angles. The media, too, responded enthusiastically.

"Wide Track is the outstanding automotive advance of the year.... We firmly believe that in moving the wheels farther apart, to develop the widest stance of any American car, Pontiac has created an entirely new sense of balance of handling security."

The Wide Track era had begun, and the term would resonate with Pontiac buyers until the division stopped producing cars at the end of 2009. Collectors today treasure 1959 Pontiacs, though the cars don't enjoy the widespread popularity of Chevrolet's X-frame cars. What that means to buyers is that you might find Bonnevilles priced slightly less than similarly equipped Impalas, even though they are arguably superior cars to drive. Restoring a Pontiac of this vintage can be slightly more expensive and more difficult than restoring a Chevrolet, as the aftermarket support isn't as vast, and commercial parts vendors specializing in Pontiac full-size car parts aren't as plentiful. None of this is necessarily a bad thing, though, especially if you like the thought of owning and driving a unique car.

27,769 two door Bonneville hardtops was produced in 1959.          


Technical specification:

Full-size GM cars of this vintage tend to rust in the lower front fenders, lower portions of the door skins, rocker panels and around the rear wheel wells. The floor pans and trunk pans are also susceptible to rust. Floor panels specific to full-size 1959 Pontiacs are available from the aftermarket. At one time, patch panels for fenders were being produced, but as of this writing we had difficulty finding anyone manufacturing them. (We did, however, find some leftover panels available for sale on the internet.) Rocker panels are being manufactured, as are trunk floor repair panels.

Hoods, fenders, doors, quarter panels, bumpers and trim will all have to be hunted up used.

If you're considering a project, paying a little more for a car with a rust-free body and its trim intact would pay dividends down the road.

Full-size Pontiacs rode on an X-frame chassis with coil springs at all four corners. Catalina and Bonneville Custom Safaris rode on a 122-inch wheelbase, while Star Chiefs and Bonnevilles (except Safari) rode on a 124-inch wheelbase. The tread width up front was 63.72 inches and 64 inches in the rear. (By comparison, the stance of the 1958 Pontiacs was about 59 inches wide.) A Saginaw steering box was standard issue across the board; optional power assist was provided by a small hydraulic ram attached to the steering linkage.

As an option, Pontiac offered its Ever-Level Air suspension with four independent cylindrical air chambers, a high-pressure air tank, compressor, and levelizer valves. The system proved troublesome, however, and most were replaced with conventional springs.

Full-size Pontiacs used 11-inch front and rear drum brakes with a single chamber master cylinder and optional vacuum assist.

Everything you need to make your 1959 Pontiac drive, handle and stop as good as new is available, in many cases from your corner parts store. Chassis work on a post-war GM car is approachable for the DIY'er as well.

Engine and Drive train
There were several different production versions of the 389 offered in 1959 (excluding the two racing versions) ranging from 215hp to 315hp. All were based on the same short-stroke design, with a cast-iron block and cast-iron heads, but used different camshafts, carburetion setups and compression ratios to conjure increasing levels of power. On the entry-level end was the base "Tempest 420-E" with a two-barrel carburetor and 8.6:1 compression conspiring to make 215hp. Pontiacs with this engine also used a prairie-tackling 2.87:1 final drive ratio. Automotive writer Tom McCahill made a coast-to-coast dash in a Catalina equipped with this power train and averaged 21.7 MPG over 60.72 hours and 2,442.7 miles of driving. One step up from the economy engine was the 245hp engine standard on the Catalina and Star Chief (with manual transmission); followed by the 260hp engine standard on the Bonneville (with manual transmission); the 280hp engine used in the Catalina and Star Chief with an automatic transmission; the 300hp four-barrel engine used in the Bonneville (with Hydra-Matic) and optional on others. Finally, at the top of the performance heap for regular production Pontiacs was the 315hp Tri-Power engine.

To further up the ante over Chevrolet's two-speed Powerglide transmission, Pontiac offered the four-speed Hydra-Matic as an option over the base three-speed-manual synchromesh. The standard rear-axle ratio with the three-speed manual was 3.23:1. With the Hydra-Matic, the standard rear-axle ratio was a 3.08:1 (except with the Tempest 420-E).

Pontiac engine and drive train parts aren't difficult to find, and the components are easily serviced. Properly set-up and maintained, the engines, transmissions and rear axles will withstand untold years and miles of driving.

Legroom, hip room and headroom were emphasized during the design of the '59 Pontiacs, so even full-figured drivers won't feel cramped behind the wheel. Though the number of available options was down overall from the year prior, Pontiac drivers hardly felt like they were roughing it: Power windows, a power adjustable seat, tinted glass, a removable "Sportable Transistor Radio" and air conditioning were all available. Upholstery included Morrokide (vinyl) with nylon pattern cloth, three-tone Morrokide, two-tone Morrokide and Morrokide with Jacquard woven nylon faced cloth. There are companies who specialize in interior for vintage Pontiacs and sell seat upholstery kits for Bonnevilles and others. There are also companies that offer headliners, carpet kits and OEM style upholstery by the yard. The Pontiac Parts, Services etc., and Services Offered sections of Hemmings are good places to begin looking for interior specialists if you're embarking on a restoration.

While 1959 Pontiacs might not enjoy the widespread popularity of their corporate stable mates from Chevrolet, they definitely make as bold a styling statement today as they did when new. Though 1959 Pontiacs are less commonly seen and less commonly restored than Chevrolets (and Fords), fans of GM's luxury performance division are no less enthusiastic about their favorite cars, ensuring the future collectability of post-war Pontiacs.


Model years



Pontiac, Michigan, United States
Flint, Michigan, United States
Ypsilanti, Michigan, United States
Wentzville, Missouri, United States

Body and chassis

Body style

2-door convertible
2-door coupe
4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
4-door hardtop


FR layout



Power train


389CID Tempest 420 300 hp V8


3-speed manual; Super Hydra-Matic



124 in (3,150 mm)


220.7 in (5,606 mm)


80.7 in (2,050 mm)

Curb weight

4,086 lb (1,853 kg)




Old brochures of the Pontiac 1959






























Video of the real car from Youtube








1959 Pontiac Car Of The Year Commercial





If you have any question or comment your are free to contact me at: aeronautic@stofanet.dk



Dealers are welcome to get their models reviewed too.






Aeronautic Sep. 2017


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