Saturday, August 1, 2015

Brown Streak

I found myself in a far corner of Astoria recently when I saw a rotted old hulk crouching at the curb. I mean look at this thing!
This is a 1950 Pontiac Straight-Eight (or Silver Streak as it was alternately called) that might have been black 65 years ago. At first glance it is the most beat up ride in town.
The Straight-Eight got its name from the inline 8 cylinder engine beneath the hood. The big straight eights were common from the 1930s with most domestic auto makers. By 1950 they were heading towards extinction thanks to the more powerful and efficient V8s. Packard was the last to produce one in 1954, a year after Pontiac went for the V8.
Even the wheels are tired on this thing, but they match. After looking at them for a minute it dawned on me that they were very much on purpose.
This logo is so futuristic! Nobody did the future as well as the past during the '40s and '50s.
Oh yeah look at this monster! This is like a big muddy catfish trolling the lakebed looking for children to eat. Those headlights confirm what the wheels were hinting at; this is actually somebody's ultimate rat rod. I like this so much better than the standard flat black paint with red wheels and baby moon caps. Every second of the 65 years this has existed is written on its rusty mug.
That fat chrome stripe is where the Silver Streak name originated. This was also the last gasp for split windshields. In many ways this car has more in common with cars from the '20s than even those built 5 years later.
It's obscured behind the scratched glass covering but within that circle is the stylized head of Chief Pontiac residing within. Originally his image would've been the hood ornament too (in chrome on this car but in lit-up amber glass on the Super Chief!). 
Grumpy punk.
For a 2-door coupe this ride is pretty huge. I imagine fitting 4 people in the backseat wouldn't be an issue.
That little blue sticker on the vent window is the only other visual clue that this is a well loved car.
Inside we can see what's really going on here! There is a very short stick shift hiding beneath some terrible but newer seats. That massive dash mounted aftermarket tach with the red light telling the driver when to shift, the 4 gauges below, and the two red switches amidst those gauges all tell me this is a serious drag racing machine!
The dual exhaust is barely visible here as they used dark or possibly rust-treated metal. It looks to me to be 2.5" or 3" exhaust though so whatever's under the hood these days has plenty of grunt. I really like how the pipes angle outward in an effort at even more subtlety. The taillights have a blue dot in the center which is a classic hot rod detail.
You can just make out EIGHT in art deco lettering on that half circle over the propeller. Even better is the cheesiest/worst/best license plate holder I've ever seen!
Hats off to the mystery owner of this masterpiece hiding in plain sight. I've seen a lot of junky cars, rat rods, and hot rods, but this is the single best combination of the three I've witnessed. I would love to see this pull up to a light and get challenged by some chump in a Mustang only to blow its doors off.
Bravo, Pontiac owner!

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