Oops, daring dream Pontiac was scrapped!

Here’s the third instalment in our retrospective gaze at GM’s 1955 Motorama dream cars. This time we focus on the Pontiac Strato-Star, styled by long time GM designer Paul Gillan.

He was head of Pontiac’s design studio at the time and was instrumental in transitioning Pontiac from a being seen as an old man’s car into a sports luxury offering.

He also helped devise the brand’s iconic split grille.

Painted in Dark Silver and Vermilion, the Strato-Star was a six-passenger, two-door sedan that sought to maximise interior space and yet deliver a stunningly shaped exterior.

And Gillan succeeded on both counts. 

GM Motorama publicity boldly stated the car was “the most daring new design ever displayed.”

The roof was basically flat. 

It was supported by ultra slim A and B pillars and two cantilevered C pillars.

The C pillars were located well inboard of the body. 

The base of the pillars joined two fins which ran down the boot and into the rear tail lights.

Two wind splits extended forward of the pillars and across the roof to the top of the windscreen. 

With an aggressively wrapped windscreen and rear window, the Strato-Star offered all round visibility.

The front wheel wells were scooped out and painted Vermilion as were the inside of the rear wheel wells. 

Any exposed suspension components were chrome plated.

Bench seating front and rear was upholstered in Vermilion leather. 

The car was not operational but was advertised as being “powered” by Pontiac’s 287 cubic inch OHV V8.

Sitting only 53.1 inches (1350mm) off the ground, exit and entry to the car was facilitated by a panel in the roof above the doors which flipped up when they were opened.

The flip-up panel was one of the few working parts on the Strato-Star.

The car was 75.6 inches (1920mm) wide, making it the widest of the 1955 Motorama cars.

The legacy of the Strato-Star is that its almost flat roof shape and rear pillars were re-worked to become the GM four-door hardtop roof line of 1959, the famed “flat roof” cars which are coveted by collectors these days.

The hooded headlights were actually a feature on the production 1955 Pontiac and were included to give run of mill Pontiacs some “dream car” mystique.

Unfortunately the Strato-Star was scrapped in the late 1950s.

David Burrell is the editor of retroautos.com.au

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