History of the 1949-1951 Pontiac Streamliner
Pontiac’s lineup was restyled in 1949 by Herman Kaiser along Harley Earl’s guidelines. The cars featured a full-width body and curved two-piece windshield common to Cadillac and Oldsmobile. Two models were built, the Streamliner and Chieftain, and both rode on a 120-inch wheelbase. Both could also be ordered with either a 239-cid six-cylinder L-head engine that made 90 hp, or a 248-cid straight-eight mill that developed 104 hp. Transmissions were the Hydramatic automatic (78%) and three-speed manual.
The Streamliner was Pontiac’s entry-level model. Pontiac Streamliners could be ordered as two-door sedan coupes, four-door fastback sedans, and an eight-passenger station wagon that could come with or without a Di-Noc exterior. DeLuxe trim could be added to any body style, which ultimately amounted to the addition of a full-length side spear and gravel guards to the rear fenders. Unique to the 1949 Streamliner was a sedan delivery body style, of which nearly 2,500 were manufacture. The car was aimed at the fleet market, much like Chevrolet’s sedan delivery, only it offered a V-8 option unlike the Chevy.
The 1950 Pontiac Streamliner was little changed from the previous year, except that the station wagon migrated to the Chieftain model, and the remaining cars wore a bolder grille. The 1951 model year marked the end of the fastback sedan body styles, leaving just a coupe. Options included a big sunvisor and traffic light viewer, seven-tube radio, and Remington auto-home shaver.
As the distinction between the Streamliner and Chieftain was always a subtle one, Pontiac ceased production of the Streamliner following the 1951 model year and opted to instead use differentiating trims within the more recognizable Chieftain nameplate.
Today the Pontiac Streamliner is a true sleeper, much like its Oldsmobile counterpart, in that it is off the radar of most enthusiasts. Pontiac was a top five automaker during this period, however, so cars and parts are fairly easy to source. This fact helps keep cars affordable, and makes the Streamliner a great choice for someone looking to experience early postwar American auto ownership.