By Bobby Webb
1958 Pontiac Bonneville. The 1957 model year had been a difficult year for Pontiac as it had lost a large number of sales. To try and win back some of those lost sales, Pontiac introduced the ’58 Pontiac Bonneville with some major changes. Prior, the Pontiac Bonneville was billed as a limited-production vehicle. This was no more as it hit full production. Also, in addition to a ’58 Bonneville convertible, a hardtop Sport Coupe was added to make the Pontiac Bonneville a complete top-line series. In essence, the 1958 Pontiac Bonneville was a new automobile from the ground up, even the bodyshell was restyled; inspired from the X-member frame used on the Cadillac.
The 1958 Pontiac Bonneville had a number of improvements made to pique the interest of buyers. The trim was top grade and the price of the Bonneville was reduced by $2,300 by making much of the lavish equipment “optional”. The ’58 Bonneville was also put on a shorter platform, the “Chieftain”, which gave the car better handling. Probably the most interesting feature that was added to the ’58 Bonneville was the “Ever-Level” air suspension that was optional for an extra $175. Although a fascinating feature, the feature’s setup and price proved hard to overcome and not many customer opted for it.
A Performance Boost
All ’58 Bonnevilles came equipped with a very capable 370 V-8 engine, called the Tempest. Pontiac offered six versions of the engine but most were sold with the single-four-barrel unit which offered a 10:1 compression and 285 horsepower and a Hydra-Matic automatic transmission.
When timed at the 0-60 mph sprint, Motor Trend timed the 1958 Pontiac Bonneville at a swift 8.2 seconds. It hit 88 mph in 18.8 seconds in the standing quarter mile, according to Motor Trend. Tom McCahill, from Mechanix Illustrated, took the 285 horsepower up to 125 mph which made him state:
“The 1958 Pontiacs are hotter than a blowtorch.”
The Bonneville Sold Well Amid A Tough Economy
The ’58 Pontiac Bonneville sold much better than the ’57 model. In all, the 1958 Pontiac Bonneville sold 3,096 convertibles and 9,144 hardtops. Although sales were healthy, just about everybody in the auto industry was down. Chevrolet’s sales were down nearly 18 percent and Oldsmobile’s sales were down 20 percent. Even Pontiac was down by over 30 percent. Even amid the tough year in the auto industry, the ’58 Bonneville was a proven vehicle and when compared to other 1958s, it is a fairly appealing car.
If you enjoyed this article and would like to read many more like it please visit my blog, http://www.ClassicCarCrazy.com.