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 My 59 Bonneville Vista acquisition

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Brucenan



Posts : 6
Join date : 2014-04-11
Age : 66
Location : Cairns FNQ Australia

PostSubject: My 59 Bonneville Vista acquisition   Fri May 23, 2014 4:34 am

Purchased my Bonneville in Brisbane 2 months ago. It had not been on the road for over 10 years but looked ok in the ad and the photos the seller sent me. Took the plunge and purchased it then me and a mate flew to Brisbane to drive it home. After the first 20 Km we realised we had a problem when she failed to proceed on a freeway. Found the fuel filter was filthy and soon found out the tank was very rusty. Used approx 15 filters and needed a change each 80 to 100 miles on the way back. Only other problem  was one of the hoses from the head to the water pump burst. It was an original hose. We could not get it started after a filter change at 6.30pm on day 2 and needed a flatbed to carry us approx 60 miles to the next town. Over nighted there, charged the battery and she fired right up in the morning.Took us 3 and a half days to get home, just over 1000 miles and got 15 miles to our gallon.
The car was imported new to Aust, converted to RHD and sold new here. It is in reasonable condition, still has original plastic on the seats, the front door trims have been redone, the rears are original. It has had a least one repaint and the bumpers could do with a rechrome. All in all it is a good old relic and I will be leaving it as it is. I have cleaned the tank out and given it the Red Kote treatment and put in a new sender unit. Picked the spats up on Ebay from Colorado, good match and were here in 12 days from the US.  Bruce



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Cat SS 59

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Posts : 84
Join date : 2010-10-12
Age : 58
Location : Westmoreland, NH

PostSubject: Re: My 59 Bonneville Vista acquisition   Fri May 23, 2014 3:10 pm

Great looking car Brucenan. You had guts driving her home 1000 miles with not knowing exactly what to expect. Love that RHD conversion. Looks like it's in excellent shape. Thanks for the pics and story. Jim
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Finfan

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Posts : 106
Join date : 2011-10-09
Location : SF Bay Area California

PostSubject: Re: My 59 Bonneville Vista acquisition   Sun May 25, 2014 11:24 am

Awesome Bruce!
I agree on the long haul, huge gnads but the memories you made right?
Your car looks to be in amazing shape, where in that part of the world was it advertised?

Enjoy your new car, thanks for sharing-love that dash pic.
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Brucenan



Posts : 6
Join date : 2014-04-11
Age : 66
Location : Cairns FNQ Australia

PostSubject: Re: My 59 Bonneville Vista acquisition   Sun May 25, 2014 5:52 pm

Hi, The car was for sale in Brisbane, Queensland,Aust. I live in Cairns, Far North Queensland Aust. Great Barrier Reef country.
Bruce
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don_weston

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Posts : 72
Join date : 2012-09-08

PostSubject: Re: My 59 Bonneville Vista acquisition   Sun Jun 01, 2014 9:52 am

Hi Bruce.   Your car is indeed interesting!   From what I know about Australian 59 Pontiacs it should have a Chevrolet dashboard.  Is your car an American or Canadian 59 Pontiac?  The Canadian 59's was assembled by Holden in Australia and would have a 59 Chevy chassis and engine.   Also the Holden Canadian 59's were all Laurentians with a 6 Cyl Chevrolet engine not Bonnevilles with.  Given your car has a 59 Pontiac dashboard I suspect it is an American 59 that someone converted themselves to RHD?  If so, it is a one of a kind car.  Please post more pictures showing the engine.   Thanks, Don Weston.
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Brucenan



Posts : 6
Join date : 2014-04-11
Age : 66
Location : Cairns FNQ Australia

PostSubject: Re: My 59 Bonneville Vista acquisition   Sun Jun 01, 2014 9:00 pm




Hi Don, Thanks for the answer to the bezel riddle. I have had a look at the ID plate on the  car and the number after PO is 979 so it looks like it was produced early in the run.
It is US manufactured car made in Pontiac Mich. A couple of prestige car dealers in the southern capital cities back then imported up market models, had them converted and sold them new. One such GM dealer was Stacks in Sydney who sold Holden, Chev and Pontiac. Bill Buckle Autos was a large RHD converter in Sydney in the 60's. This car was sold new to a doctor in Sydney.
A little side story, I am 62 and when I was young I collected car cards which came in breakfast cereals. After I got the Bonneville I remembered a 59 Pontiac card and dug out the old collection. Looks like the illustration for the Pontiac was the 59 Bonneville, although the description is of the vehicle you mentioned, a 6 cylinder, No 59 Strato Chiefs were sold new here. I do not think there would have been more then one 59 Canyon Copper Bonneville in Aust at that time.
I have seen photos of a white RHD 59  Bonneville with a dash conversion not as good as this one.
I have attached a photo of the engine, as you can see it is not a restored car, just a well maintained relic. The large shaft running right to left on the firewall is the shifter.
Bruce
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don_weston

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Posts : 72
Join date : 2012-09-08

PostSubject: Re: My 59 Bonneville Vista acquisition   Mon Jun 02, 2014 12:01 am

Hi Bruce,
You truly do own a one of a kind car!   The work that went into converting to RHD is quite extensive and would have added significantly to the already high cost of the car!  And yet they still didn't want to spend a few more dollars for power steering, how strange!  I have never seen anything like your car and I have been a 59 Pontiac enthusiast for 50 years!   Truly beyond amazing.   I am not sure what you mean about a bezel?   The highlight switch on your car is wrong so perhaps that is what you are referring to?  As for the ad you posted showing the 59 StratoChief being sold in Australia that is also news to me.   If you send me your email address I will send you the articles and information I have collected on the Holden 59 Pontiacs that were imported from Canada and assembled in Australia.  The articles only talk about Holden RHD 59 six cylinder Pontiac Laurentians and even go as far as to say only 236 of them were sold in the 1959 model year in Australia.   I also have some information on 59 RHD StratoChiefs that were sold in South Africa and probably England as well.  So Pontiac of Canada did made both RHD StratoChiefs and Laurentians for export but not Parisiennes to the best of my knowledge.  All of them were on Chevrolet chassis of course.

I am confused about the VIN number on your 59 Bonneville.  The first number of any 59 Pontiac model to be build on a given assembly line was always 1000.  For example, the very first 59 Bonneville assembled in Pontiac, Michigan would have been number 859P1000.   The first 59 Catalina made in Southgate, California would have been 159C1000, etc. for each particular model and assembly plant in the United States.   What is the full VIN number on your car?  If it does not match the numbering system I just mentioned, then it would have to be come sort of special export only VIN number that I have never heard of.

Finally, I notice that the relay for the large three bulb each 59 Pontiac taillights is missing on your car.  It should be located on the curved black steel panel between the regulator and the battery.  I assume your car has the full three bulb Bonneville/StarChief taillights and not the smaller single bulb Catalina taillights?
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Brucenan



Posts : 6
Join date : 2014-04-11
Age : 66
Location : Cairns FNQ Australia

PostSubject: Re: My 59 Bonneville Vista acquisition   Mon Jun 02, 2014 1:39 am


Hi again Don, the 959 number came off the plate on top of the firewall. The number on the left door is 859P3168. Do you have records to decode this ID plate ? if so I would be interested to know what it all means. The car does have the wide Bonneville tail lights. We need to have orange indicators and they are located where the reverse lights were. It still has the white lens with an orange bulb.

This other photo may interest you also. This RHD 59 Parisienne was for sale in this state  appox 2 years ago, in the ad it said is had a 348 Chev Engine. I have not seen the car and do not know if it was an original import or imported later.
I would be interested in the info you have on 59 Aust delivered Pontiacs. My email is ga32958@bigpond.net.au.
Bruce
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don_weston

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Posts : 72
Join date : 2012-09-08

PostSubject: Re: My 59 Bonneville Vista acquisition   Mon Jun 02, 2014 9:52 am

Hi Bruce,  the decal information breaks down as follows:
59-2839= Bonneville Vista body style
F= Backup lights
B= Circ-L-Aire heater and defroster
I= E-Z eye glass
SW= 6-way power seat
JX= Instrument panel cushion
RR= Canyon Copper colored body and top
Trim 279= Copper, Beige, and Mahogany Morrokide (vinyl) interior.
The body number PO 979 is the sequential Fisher Body number
VIN number 859P3168= indicates your car was the 2168th 1959 Bonneville assembled at the Pontiac, Michigan assembly plant.

I will scan and send you the information on the Holden 59 Pontiacs. Also I am familiar with the requirement for the Orange colored lights on the rear as it is mentioned in the references and they even show a new 59 Chevrolet with strange looking orange lights hanging down from the rear batwings!

Regards and thanks for sharing this information on your ultra rare and beautiful car.

Don Weston
Port Hueneme, California
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