What is in this article?:
- WardsAuto Flashback â€“ December 2013
- 70 Years Ago (December 1943): Civilian Truck Output Allocated; Packard Merlin Production to Double; Electric Window Motors Seen
- 60 Years Ago (December 1953): Pontiac’s ’54 Firsts; New Yorker Adds HP
- 50 Years Ago (December 1963): Record 1963 Sales; Studebaker U.S. Output; New Chrysler Plants
- 25 Years Ago (December 1988): AWD Car Sales Off; Beretta Ragtop Confirmed; Chrysler TC Arrives
Plymouth leads, Packard's Merlin soars, Star Chief rises, Studebaker quits, Baretta goes ragtop in December news from the WardsAuto archives
60 Years Ago (December 1953): Pontiac’s ’54 Firsts; New Yorker Adds HP
Pontiac’s revamped ’54 lineup, introduced Friday, Dec. 20, 1953, includes a new model and several “firsts.” At the top is a new Star Chief series on a longer 124-in. (3,150-mm) wheelbase compared with 122 ins. (3,099 mm) for other models with an overall length of 213.7 ins. (5,428 mm) vs. 202.7 ins. (5,148 mm) for Chieftains and wagons.
The Star Chief’s I-8 engine delivers 127 hp, 5-hp more than lesser Pontiacs, thanks to a higher 7.7:1 compression ratio. One Pontiac “first” is an optional air conditioning system fully integrated into and under the instrument panel. It delivers cold air through adjustable nozzles at each end on the dash as well as a center-mounted outlet.
Having shed the previous trunk-mounted apparatus, “air conditioning now can be installed in station wagons as well and sedans and hardtops.” (Convertible buyers were not yet viewed needing air conditioning.)
The system uses Freon 12 “a non-toxic, non-flammable gas that is practically odorless and has a low boiling point,” as a refrigerant. Another “first” is an optional Comfort Control front (bench) seat that can be adjusted to any of 360 positions. Adjustment is mechanical, by means of two levers mounted on the driver’s side of the seat.
The New Yorker Deluxe variant is dominating-brand sales, accounting for upward of 70% of New Yorker output compared with 35% at the car’s September ’54 model launch. The car’s more powerful 235 hp Hemi V-8 is credited for the increased volume as it fits neatly into rising public demand for more powerful engines.
“Additional proof that the public is power conscious is the fact that the standard New Yorker, selling for $227 less, but with only 195 hp and lower performance, is comparatively unwanted.”