In 1958, Pontiac’s optional “Sportable” transistor AM radio could be slid out from the dash to be taken anywhere. It operated on its own batteries and had its own antenna. When it was returned to the dash, it would then play through the car’s speaker system using the car’s electrical system to power it. Oldsmobile had a version in 1958, as well. Art is from Pontiac accessory catalogs and the other photos are by the author.
If you enjoy learning about vintage General Motors factory options and dealer-installed accessories as much as I do, this blog is for you. Perusing the listings from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, it soon becomes apparent option/accessory offerings were extensive.
This Remington electric shaver is for a mid-1950s Pontiac. Throughout much of the 1950s, the various GM divisions offered accessory shavers that plugged into the cigarette lighter receptacle in the car via an adapter—great for traveling salesmen. It could also be plugged into the wall for home use.
Generally, it was a “win win” situation for customers and the automaker. Base prices for the cars could be kept relatively low for the frugal buyer by selling models sans price-inflating equipment. For those who wanted their vehicle to be more extravagant, however, myriad extra-cost options and dealer-installed accessories could be specified. Consequently, buyers were afforded the opportunity to personalize their vehicles to match their wants, needs and wallets, and the automakers and dealers were able to increase profits with each item that was added.
For 1959 and 1960, the aforementioned, transistor radio’s design had changed to a small unit that was separate from the in-dash radio. It stored in its own holder in the glovebox. Here’s Pontiac’s “Sportable” transistor radio circa 1960. In the 1959 Oldsmobile it was the “Trans-Portable” and the 1959 Buick it was called the “Transistor-Portable.” Its styling differed somewhat between the divisions.
Though there were hundreds of options and accessories offered each year by each division in this era, for this blog, I chose a few from Pontiac that I felt were thought-provoking and not seen too often. Many of them were also offered from other GM Divisions with the same or different names and/or styling.
Have you ever seen someone “stylin” in their 1967 Tempest, LeMans or GTO like this? That’s a vinyl tonneau cover for convertibles to protect the interior from the sun and dust. The driver’s area zipped out so the driver could keep the cover in place while he was in the car. It was held onto the car by snaps, and likely required a lot of them. Are those snaps added to the door sheet-metal? Ouch. The tonneau cover was available for a few years in the 1960s.
Take a look at the photos and captions and see if you recall any of them or, better, have actually owned a few.
I know that the 8-track player was fairly common in Pontiacs of the era, but the important aspect of this photo is where it’s located. The 8-track is mounted on the transmission tunnel behind the console—not exactly convenient for the driver to operate it. Why would Pontiac do that? Probably because there was no other choice in the 1969-72 GPs equipped with the console, as its design was integrated into the dash to cultivate the cockpit-like appearance. This left no room for the optional 8-track, so behind the console is where it was placed.
The Instant-Aire Pump, first offered in 1969, inflated tires or just about anything else up to 32 psi using vacuum from a port on the engine to power it. It wasn’t available with six-cylinder engine or the Ram Air III and Ram Air IVs.
The Rear Lamp Monitoring was offered in 1970 by Pontiac. It employed fiber optics to tell the driver that the rear lamps were functioning…or not. This small box was mounted on the package tray, so the driver could see the two indicators light up via the rearview mirror. Other divisions also offered the system, some, years before Pontiac, others, for years after.
Sunroofs were starting to become popular in the 1970s, but most were glass popups or sliding metal ones. For the Ventura II in the early 1970s, however, the folding sunroof was made of vinyl and was offered in back, Pewter, Covert Beige or tan, but the underside matched the interior color. The sunroof opened to 26 x 31-inches, featured an adjustable wind deflector and was said to be completely weatherproof. The Nova version was the “Sky Roof” and Buick offered it on the Skylark, as the “Sun Coupe.”
Take your Ventura or your Astre (later) camping with this nylon tent that could be employed with the hatchback models. It sleeps two and was said to store in its own case.
In the early to mid-1970s, GM seemingly really wanted its customers to not be litter bugs. By 1975, there were these four variations on in-car litter containers. The first and last even incorporated the tissue dispenser.
If you had a GM CB radio in your Pontiac in the 1970s, it’s only fitting that you should’ve had a 23-channel GM base station CB at home as well, right? These units featured telephone-style handsets, available loud speaker reception and public address capability. They look just like Johnson Messenger units of the era except for the GM logo.
Article courtesy of Hemmings Daily, written by Thomas A. DeMauro.