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Mystery Streamline Speedster at a Buick-Pontiac Agency

By Hampton Wayt:

Updated – Automobile designers have long turned to aviation for inspiration, and today’s mystery car is no exception. Wearing 1930 Ontario dealer license plates and parked in front of a Buick-Pontiac dealership, this finely constructed fender-less roadster displays many interesting airplane styling cues.

Immediately noticeable is the pointed “sweep panel” decoration and two-tone paint scheme, resembling that found on the Dutch KLM Koolhoven F.K. 40 airplane (see below) introduced two years earlier in 1928. The car’s conical hood vents and rear fin certainly speak to airplanes as well, although the shape of the entire tail of the car (as can be best determined from this singular photograph) appears to be inspired directly by Sir Henry Segrave’s 231.45 mph “Golden Arrow” land speed record car (see below) of the year before.

Mystery Pontiac Speedster

Custom grille shell and Edmund & Jones Model 20 “Torpedo” headlamps give the speedster a futurist look. Frame details, springs, shock absorbers and hubcaps suggest it may be based on a Buick?

Sitting prominently under a 1930 Pontiac “Big 6” advertising sign, the car features no apparent Pontiac badging. The chrome grill, however, does appear to be a modified 1930 Pontiac shell—its sides rounded and smoothed out in order to flow into the hood. Teardrop shaped chrome headlights as well as chrome exhaust pipes nicely accent the grill.

The reverse of the photograph offers some possible clues as to the car’s origins. It mentions that the vehicle is in the “South Bay area” and offers an address that may read “316 North Resco.” Also found is the note: “This is very good of Frank but you can’t see our name its just at top of snap.”

Too bad for us! But perhaps one of our readers can identify the car and the dealership?

Update – A photo and details have been added at the bottom of the post th show one of the “Maytag” children’s cars that appear to have been influenced by the mystery car.

View Hampton Hayt’s earlier work here on The Old Motor.

Rear of Circa 1930 Mystery Pontiac Speedster

  • Close-up shows inset “sweep panel,” tasteful windshield, side pipe, step plate, and tail fin.

Dutch KLM Koolhoven F.K. 40 airplane

  • Flight magazine image above of a Dutch KLM Koolhoven F.K. 40 airplane in the Febuary 14, 1930, issue shows a similar design and paint scene.
  • Model below of Sir Henry Segrave’s “Golden Arrow” land speed record car and tail fin.                                                               Henry Segrave’s Golden Arrow Land Speed Record car
  • .
  • Contributor Robert Cunningham commented about the “Maytag” children’s cars were built from around 1932-’34 through to 1941. The photo of one below is courtesy of Miner Descent. The styling of this little car, built between two to three years later apparently was inspired by the mystery car.

Maytag Childrens Car

16 responses to “Mystery Streamline Speedster at a Buick-Pontiac Agency

  1. It appears that the owner of this car may have been heavily influenced by the Maytag Toy Racer, the one- and two-cylinder juvenile car manufactured during the 1930s by the same Maytag company that produced washing machines. The split grille design, conical air scoops, shape of the rear deck, two-tone paint and other details are very similar. I believe Maytag built nearly 500 of the cars. Of course, the other option may be that Maytag was been inspired by this car!

    • Robert,

      Being unfamiliar with the Maytag car, I just looked it up. Looks like they were made some years after this car. The conical vents, however, are dead-on. So, clearly Maytag was either looking at this car, or both were looking at the same airplane or ??? for their inspiration. If anyone can point out where the inspiration for these vents came from, I’d love to know.


      • Hampton, you’re right. The Maytag cars were built from 1932 through 1941. So the Maytag men were either inspired by this Pontiac or the source of this Pontiac’s inspiration.

  2. Per my friend Glenn Brummer’s research, this is a 1930 Pontiac custom streamliner. He has the same but original picture.

    • Wayne,

      Glenn’s photo is actually MY photograph, used for this piece–except prior to my digitally restoring it.


    • Glenn, I was sceptical that the frame and other parts of this car were to heavy duty for a Pontiac.

      Photos of Pontiac chassis’ show a much lighter construction and no lever-action shocks.

      A 1930 Buick chassis appears identical to that used for this car and the wire wheels and hubcaps are the same.

      • No, the only information I have is what the seller of the photo offered on eBay. No detail as to who is behind the wheel of the car or the dealership in the background.

  3. I cropped the reflection of the sign and reversed it, and there is definitely text above the Pontiac, but I can’t read it with irfanview, if someone has photoshop they may be able to read it with the tools it has available.

    The sign on the wall behind the gas pump definitely says, BUICK, if one plays with the image a bit, again photoshop might bring it out better.

    Until I was looking into this sign problem, I completely missed the two hose gas pump behind the speedster.

    • Upon closer inspection, it appears to say, BUICK and PON…, the rest is obscured by the gas pump.


  4. The Edmund & jones headlamps MUST be like the Woodlites : STYLING, YES OPTICAL OUTPUT Questionable ! NOTE — that OF these “STYLE” lamps, the RHS one is spotting gophers!!! The DUDE could care less, because nightime highways are not his cup of moonshine!!! Edwin W.

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