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Pontiac Palace: 1948

Pontiac Palace: 1948

From San Francisco circa 1948 comes this nighttime shot of a Pontiac showroom, which our learned commenters reveal was at 1560 Van Ness Avenue. 8x10 inch Kodak safety negative, photographer unknown. View full size.


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On the Wall in Living Color

The poster on the wall states: A fine car made even finer . . . Pontiac for 1948. Photo below.

I think it can be argued that the 1948 body styles actually go all the way back to 1940. The real difference between the looks of the 1940 - 1948 models was the lowering of the headlights fully into the fenders, the dramatic extension of the front fenders deep into the front doors, and the annual changes to the front grille. Other than trim changes, the basic body shells of both the Streamliner and Torpedo models barely changed throughout these years.


The first Pontiac was built in 1926, as a companion car to the existing Oakland line. In subsequent years, Pontiac became the more popular vehicle, and the Oakland was no more by 1931.


In those post-war years, virtually every year another brand would come out with its own automatic transmission, probably the most revolutionary advancement in driving up to that time. Hydra-Matic had been around since 1940, but Pontiac would have to wait until 1948 before it became available to that make, along with Dynaflow in the Buicks and PowerGlide two years later in Chevrolets. In each instance, cars so equipped carried script either on the trunk lid or somewhere on the side. For whatever reason, the Pontiacs kept you guessing until you looked inside to know whether or not that car had the new automatic or not as they chose not to announce its presence. After '49, Oldsmobile no longer used external designation either but Buick kept on all the way through 1952.

Oh wow!

More like this, please.


The photo is beautiful

The cars? Maybe not so much, even for the time period.

[Post-war design came for Pontiac in 1949; 1948s were still variations on the 1942 model. -tterrace]

A Fine car made even FINER!

Love the Hydra-Matic display and, to my surprise, nobody has mentioned the reflected Shorpy "watermark". Love it!

His Best Pal & His Best Wheels

At the end of 1948, Neal Cassady, then a resident of San Francisco, used earnings from his railroad job to make a down payment on a brand-new 1949 Hudson, which he immediately drove cross-country to visit his friend Jack Kerouac. Though Cassady would soon lose the Hudson when he didn't keep up the payments, it would much later emerge as a kind of co-star of those frantic journeys in Kerouac's novel "On the Road". I wonder whether Cassady had shopped for his sleek Hudson at the Stater agency across the street -- somehow he must have known even then that a Pontiac wouldn't provide quite so much narrative edge someday.

Auto Row Survey

Wow, that's really great! Thank you for the link 200002ist.

1560 Van Ness

As 20002ist notes, the key to the riddle is Glen C. Stater's Hudson showroom across the street.

We build excitement!

This is almost certainly the George Daniels Pontiac showroom at 1560 Van Ness. Glen Stater's Hudson dealership was at 1600 Van Ness, directly across California Street.

[Both are indeed listed at those addresses in the 1948-9 Polk's Crocker-Langley city directory. -tterrace]

There's an excellent survey of historic Auto Row structures published by the S.F. planning office.

Van Ness

Possibly 1560 Van Ness. There was a Pontiac Hupmobile dealership there before 1920.

Van Ness

Across from the Glen Stater Hudson agency, on Van Ness Ave. That's all I got.

Auto Row

Almost certainly this showroom was on Van Ness Avenue.

Guy in window

I bet the man peering inside the showroom from outside would know the name of the Pontiac store. And looks like the store owner was maybe was a sport fisherman with one of his prized marlin up on the wall.

[I think that's a sailfish. - Dave]

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