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Johnstown Pennsylvania: Mystery Buick and Pontiac Dealership

Johnstown, Pennsylvania, is the location of today’s mystery photograph taken in the showroom of an unidentified Buick and Pontiac sales agency. With the two clues, we expect that old car sleuths in the audience will be able to identify both the name and location of the dealership where the image of the taken by Russell H. Heffley on February 18, 1935.

Of interest in the scene is the Pontiac display chassis equipped with “knee-action” front suspension, along with illustrations and a description of it against the wall on the far-right, below it is a cabinet containing Pontiac accessories, and another display of extra cost options is located behind the Pontiac convertible.

In 1935 Pontiac introduced all-new styling that included a V-shaped two-piece windshield and a “waterfall” grille. The new model was available with either a straight six or eight-cylinder L-head engines. The 1935 Buick stayed for the most part with new styling introduced in 1934. This upscale model was available with three sizes of “Valve in Head” straight-eight engines in the various models offered in 233, 272, 334 cubic inch sizes, and for the first time all of the motors where equipped with down draft carburetors.

The photo is courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh Library.

21 responses to “Johnstown Pennsylvania: Mystery Buick and Pontiac Dealership

  1. Regarding Buick carburettors, it was only the new Series 40 (233), introduced mid season 1934 that had a down draft carb. The three bigger models retained the updraft carbs they had used since 1931 and it was the totally new big engine for 1936 (introduced September 1935) that went to down draft.

    • I’ll bet it is. Cambria Motors was selling Buicks in 1953. The address of the dealership was 566 Vine Street. The building still exists and there’s a garage door in the front of the building that could have been used to drive Buicks into the showroom. Great detective work!

      • Also found an old online auction listing for a photo captioned as the Pontiac-Oakland Dealership in Johnstown 1930. It showed the outside of the dealership with Pontiac Oakland signage and cars.

  2. I have two questions of this photo.

    Under what program did the dealer receive a chassis for display, and what did he do with it afterwards?

    • They may have sent it back to the factory for bodying. After a terrible hailstorm in LaGrange GA in the early eighties, all the damaged new Oldsmobiles were sent back to be “rebodied.” I suspect that would be so labor intensive that they were simply scrapped, the liability for using parts from a totaled car would be a problem.

  3. The Buick & Pontiac divisions of G.M. have their very own “specialty” items — that make their Historical Vehicles significant , –both: In my own memory —and the collective memory of others that share the essence of what an automobile can be — to the “motoring public”. This foundation of quality should be re-visited by any of today’s Auto Manufacturers — as many —have seemed to have forgotten — that : “They stand on the shoulders of Giants” Edwin W.

  4. A technical question: The photo measures 1150 x 1500 pixels and 4.94 megabytes, but quickly becomes pixelated when enlarged in PhotoShop. I’m no graphics expert, but it seems that it should be clear enough to read the signs on the wall and look at car details closely. What am I missing (other than brain cells)?

    • The majority of the photo is not in focus as it is very hard to do that in this type of view.

      All the photos on The Old Motor are reduced to a medium resolution for quicker downloading and some of the detail also gets lost in the process.

    • Sometimes it is possible to view the original image at a higher resolution at the original source since the crew at TOM helpfully provides the source for many of these images, a significant number of which are available for the public to access online.

      THANKS for running a great blog TOM!

  5. I know I speak for all vintage Pontiac lovers. “Waterfall grill”!!!! Good grief! It was the beginning of Franklin Hershey’s famous styling element, the “Silver Streak”. It is that feature which is credited with elevating Pontiac from 7th in sales to 3 rd.

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