Car of the Week: 1936 Pontiac Deluxe Six

1936 Deluxe Six that’s been in the family four generations
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Car of the Week 2020
 The ‘36 Pontiac styling has an obvious art deco look. The bullet headlights were moved to the sides of the radiator surround and these appear to have sealed beams bulbs.

The ‘36 Pontiac styling has an obvious art deco look. The bullet headlights were moved to the sides of the radiator surround and these appear to have sealed beams bulbs.

It is always fun to go to a car show and see a vehicle that’s similar to one you own. That was the case when we attended a car show in East Troy, Wis., and noticed a car similar to ours. The 1936 Pontiac Deluxe Six two-door touring sedan belonged to the Goggins family (our car is a 1936 Pontiac with two additional doors).

The window card on the Goggins’ car read, “In our family for four generations. In memory of John Mitchell of East Troy.” The car looked very nice with its recent green paint. The dashboard was painted rather than wood-grained and the upholstery was nicely done in materials a bit newer than the car.

On the side window of the car was a sign written by the Goggins’ son, Jordan, that provided some additional information about the Pontiac’s ownership history. It read as follows:

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“Hi, I’m Jordan and I am 10 years old. This ’36 Pontiac was my great-great grandfather’s car. Just last year (2013) we entered it in our first car show in East Troy, Wis., where the car lived before we got it.

“The reason it says ‘Troy Land’ is because that is where my great-great grandfather, my great grandfather, my grandfather and my mother all went to swim.

“This car was my grandfather’s car later on. But when he died (before I was born), the car was passed down to us. At the beginning, we couldn’t drive this car because there were problems with it. Later on, my mom and dad found out that when my family was working on the car, they accidentally mixed the radiator cap and gas cap.

“Today, this car is one of our family’s prize possessions. We hope you enjoyed looking at our car.”

 '30s lines follow the Deco influence as shown in this rear shot of the Pontiac.

'30s lines follow the Deco influence as shown in this rear shot of the Pontiac.

Coaches gain popularity

Two-door sedans of the 1920s and 1930s were often called “coaches,” especially at General Motors. The popularity of this body style can be traced to the Hudson Essex, a car that made closed-body models more affordable during the 1910s. Until cars such as the Essex arrived, about 90 percent of the cars made were roadsters or touring cars. As more and more coaches came on the market and the price became more affordable, this body style popularity trend changed and closed cars sold better and better.

Two-door sedans were typically among the lower-priced body styles. They were usually slightly more expensive than a business coupe and about the same in cost as a Sport Coupe. Regular two-door sedans were known as “straight back” or “slant back” models. In the early ’30s, trunks were sold as accessories for coaches. Touring Sedans arrived in the mid ’30s and had a built-in trunk. They were called “hump back” sedans.

Pontiac’s multiple ’36 models

The 1936 Pontiac had a new waterfall grille with a thinner shell, fewer “silver streaks” and the outer sections finished in body color. The horizontal hood louvers came to a point at the front. Longer, slimmer headlamps were mounted on the sides of the hood. The fenders no longer had “speed lines” sculpted into them as they had in 1935.

 Though advertised as a five-passenger car, the Pontiac interior dimensions are a tight fit for 6-footers, On coaches the front seat backs fold forward for rear passenger entry. The 1936 dashboard layout is pretty simple. The translucent knobs were used on Deluxe models. Knob below windshield division bar operates the vacuum wipers.

Though advertised as a five-passenger car, the Pontiac interior dimensions are a tight fit for 6-footers, On coaches the front seat backs fold forward for rear passenger entry. The 1936 dashboard layout is pretty simple. The translucent knobs were used on Deluxe models. Knob below windshield division bar operates the vacuum wipers.

The Pontiac Master Six could most easily be identified by its solid front axle. It also had a non-locking glove box, taupe mohair or brown pattern broadcloth upholstery and black Bakelite door handle and instrument panel hardware. Two-door sedans at first came only with bucket front seats. A bench seat option was introduced at midyear. Standard equipment included DELCO-Remy ignition, hydraulic brakes, cross-flow cooling and foot-operated starter buttons. Flush-mounted taillamps were used on some Master Sixes built early in the model year. Later cars had a bullet-type taillamp on the driver’s side.

The Deluxe Six was virtually identical to the Master Six, except that it had “Knee Action” independent front suspension. The upholstery in closed cars was taupe mohair or modified tweed pattern taupe woolen cloth. Deluxe sixes also had translucent dash knobs and door handle knobs. Additional standard equipment in this series included a larger gas tank, a higher capacity six-volt battery and an automatic choke. The Goggins’ car is a Deluxe Six two-door five-passenger sedan that went out the door for $745.

 Here is a photo of the car prior to its restoration. It’s pretty apparent that the family didn’t baby the Pontiac and put a lot of labor and love into bring it back.

Here is a photo of the car prior to its restoration. It’s pretty apparent that the family didn’t baby the Pontiac and put a lot of labor and love into bring it back.

Pontiac also offered a Deluxe Eight line that had a longer wheelbase. The extra length was taken up in the hood and running boards. Fenders varied slightly in the manner in which they overlapped the cowl, but were actually the same with the attachment holes drilled differently. The words “Pontiac 8” appeared on the grille and the hood ornament was a distinctive, circular design instead of the oblong loop style used on sixes. Standard sedan equipment included front and rear armrests, twin assist straps, oriental grain interior moldings and a dash-mounted clock. All eights had “Knee-Action” front suspension, a pressurized cooling system, an automatic choke and a new type of clutch.

One family’s 1936 Pontiac Deluxe Six

The Goggins’ Deluxe Six is one of 44,040 cars built in that series, but there is no breakout of production by body style available. The window card indicated that the featured car has its original 208-cid inline, L-head six with a cast-iron block. This engine has a 6.2: 1 compression ratio and a Carter one-barrel model 342S carburetor. It produces 81 hp. The family has added Firestone reproduction whitewall tires, bolt on amber-colored rear turn indicators, an aftermarket outside rearview mirror (the original style attaches to the driver’s door hinge) and an aftermarket under-dash water temperature gauge.

Everything on the car is very nicely carried out and the Pontiac also has a couple of factory options such as bumper over-riders and a glove box-mounted clock. The blue-and-red Wisconsin Collector plate at the rear even has a vintage “tag topper.” And of course, there’s that “Troy Land” sticker on the driver’s side rear window that highlights the fact that the Pontiac has been in the same family for four generations. Not many old-car owners can make a claim like that!

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