1960 Pon­tiac Bon­neville’s 30-year va­ca­tion ends

The Washington Times Daily - - Auto -

Joe Pas­cale of Vi­enna was not in the mar­ket for a Pon­tiac when he saw an ad for a 1960 Bon­neville in a car trader mag­a­zine. Nev­er­the­less, he made a note of the phone num­ber, then dis­missed the mat­ter from his mind. ‘About a month later, I no­ticed the num­ber in my book and hap­pened to be by a phone. It was time to call for more in­for­ma­tion,’ Mr. Pas­cale says.

Pon­tiac was into the sec­ond year of be­ing the ‘Wide Track’ auto com­pany in 1960 when a beau­ti­ful black twodoor hard­top Bon­neville Sport Coupe was sent to Renn Pon­tiac in Fred­er­ick, re­port­edly for use as the owner’s per­sonal demon­stra­tor.

Charles E. Miller had to have the 18foot, 4.7-inch-long Pon­tiac af­ter see­ing it once. He traded his 1956 Ford Vic­to­ria for the Pon­tiac and drove it to his Jef­fer­son, Md., home.

Mr. Miller clamped a cou­ple of Cit­i­zens Band ra­dio an­ten­nas on the ex­pan­sive trunk lid and, un­til 1974, en­joyed driv­ing his pow­er­ful Pon­tiac with the 389-cu­bic-inch V-8 en­gine pro­duc­ing 303 horse­power. All that power was trans­ferred to the rear drive wheels via a four-speed Hy­dra-matic trans­mis­sion.

With 77,456 miles on the car, Mr. Miller re­turned to the deal­er­ship with the idea of trad­ing it in on a new Pon­tiac. De­spite its be­ing in ex­cel­lent, garaged con­di­tion, the dealer did not want to deal and of­fered next to noth­ing for a trade.

An an­gry Mr. Miller de­cided he was not go­ing to give his car away. He drove it home and parked it in his garage where it would re­main for the next 30 years. The car was washed a

cou­ple of times a year un­til de­clin­ing health kept Mr. Miller from tak­ing care of his prized Pon­tiac.

That’s when he placed the ad: ‘Pon­tiac Bon­neville 1960 black, one owner, ex­cel­lent con­di­tion.’

‘I was not in the mar­ket for a 1960 Pon­tiac and fig­ured it was prob­a­bly in poor shape,’ Mr. Pas­cale says. Nev­er­the­less, he made the call.

‘When I asked how long has it been since the car was re­painted, Mr. Miller replied, ‘Never,’’ That’s when Mr. Pas­cale be­came more in­ter­ested in the old car.

Be­cause Mr. Pas­cale’s sales po­si­tion at Washington Valve and Fit­ting is based in Fred­er­ick, he was able to stop by and see the car dur­ing day­light hours.

‘At first glance, the car would make most peo­ple run,’ Mr. Pas­cale says. ‘All oth­ers who looked at it did ap­par­ently.’ Es­pe­cially when they learned the owner was ask­ing top dol­lar.

Mr. Pas­cale re­calls there was a quar­ter inch of dust on all the flat sur­faces and green mold was grow­ing on all the chrome. On the in­side all the glass was cloudy and there was a white film on all the chrome trim.

On the plus side was the fact there was no rust or mouse dam­age any­where. ‘The in­te­rior was re­mark­ably pre­served,’ Mr. Pas­cale says. ‘I was in love.’

Mr. Miller re­fused any sort of test drive be­cause, he said, ‘You can’t buy parts for it any more.’ That isn’t the best sales pitch but Mr. Pas­cale bought the car any­way af­ter ne­go­ti­at­ing the orig­i­nal very high price down to a more rea­son­able merely high price.

‘I felt con­fi­dent that I could buff out the orig­i­nal paint,’ Mr. Pas­cale says. The car was towed to Virginia, where it was brought back to good health.

‘All the tires were mis­matched,’ Mr. Pas­cale says. ‘There was a long list of things to do to a car that had been off the road for so long. For­tu­nately, the driv­e­train turned out to be in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion, as did the elec­tri­cal sys­tem. I love the sound of the dual ex­hausts.’

Faint scratches on the out­side of the driver’s door led Mr. Pas­cale to de­duce the pre­vi­ous owner had a dog that was al­ways happy to see him.

He also de­duced that Mr. Miller’s wife usu­ally wore high-heeled shoes be­cause the front pas­sen­ger seat car­pet had many small holes and tears.

Mr. Pas­cale’s 3,985-pound wide­track Pon­tiac is equipped with the fol­low­ing fac­tory op­tions: • Ba­sic group • Lamp group • Mir­ror group • Power brakes • E-Z-EYE glass • White­wall tires • Power steer­ing • Deluxe AM ra­dio • Reel-out trunk light • Deluxe wheel discs • Rear power an­tenna Hours spent com­pound­ing the fin­ish brought out the beauty that had faded over the years. Sun beat­ing through the big wrap­around wind­shield had bleached the dash­board and the same thing had hap­pened to the pack­age shelf be­neath the rear win­dow.

Mr. Pas­cale dyed both the dash­board and pack­age shelf a deep ma­roon.

What isn’t chrome plated on the face of the dash­board is cov­ered in wal­nut ve­neer.

Mr. Pas­cale drives the big car on its 124-inch wheel­base with a two-spoke steer­ing wheel. He is amazed by the ex­cel­lent vis­i­bil­ity. ‘There’s so much glass that there’s no blind spots,’ he says.

Un­til March Mr. Pas­cale spent all his ex­tra time pol­ish­ing, clean­ing, buff­ing, re­plac­ing small lenses and do­ing ba­sic me­chan­i­cal work on his Pon­tiac.

‘When I was fin­ished, the car came out a lot bet­ter than I ever ex­pected,’ he says. He’s grate­ful that Mr. Miller pre­served the Bon­neville so well be­cause, he says, ‘I got a di­a­mond in the rough.’

A ra­dio speaker is mounted in the cen­ter of the rear seat back.

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