Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen’s Incredible 1957 Fuel Injected Pontiac Convertible
When Bunkie took over the Pontiac division of GM in the mid-1950s, he set out to change the brand’s image.
He wanted a car bit more youthful − Pontiac had an image fit for “Casper Milquetoast”
(a word originating from a comic strip character in the 1920’s named Casper Milquetoast)
The word has come to define someone unassertive and timid.
Knudsen got Pontiac into racing to prove it could perform with best….and it did.
When introduced on January 11th of 1957, the Bonneville was the fastest Pontiac ever produced. Zero to sixty took just 8.1 seconds to achieve. A Bonneville won the Grand National Championship with a top speed of 101. 6 mph and broke all existing records during NASCAR trials at Daytona. The 300+ horsepower fuel injected V8 engine changed the image of the Pontiac nameplate into one that was backed by performance
In 1957 Pontiac Motor Division had 630 franchised dealers so Bunkie had a very special car
built…but limited the production to just one car for each of it’s 630 dealers.
He introduced the 1957 Bonneville convertible as a showcase for a fuel-injected 347 as well as a sporty cruiser. Priced at $5,782, the 1957 Bonneville was more expensive than any other Pontiac by at least $2,000.
It featured just about every feature as standard equipment, including white-wall tires, spinner wheelcovers, anodized-aluminum trim, Strato-Flight Hydra-Matic transmission, power steering and brakes, heater/defroster, light package, “Wonderbar” signal-seeking radio with electric antenna, eight-way power seat, power windows, power top, leather upholstery, deluxe carpeting, and more.
However, the “cherry” on the cake was the fuel-injected 347 cid V-8..Fuel injection had already been introduced for Chevrolets earlier in the year, but until then it was merely an exotic piece of equipment that very few cars in the world could claim to have.
In 1958, the Bonneville’s limited-edition status was discarded, becoming Pontiac’s top-of-the-line model along with the addition of a hardtop. By 1959 and the introduction of the “Wide-Track” Pontiac, the Bonneville became a full-fledged model with all kinds of body styles and completing Pontiac’s turn-around.