For its upcoming auction at St. John’s in Plymouth, Michigan in late July, RM Auctions will offer a most unusual Pontiac – a transparent display car that General Motors built for the 1940s World’s Fair. GM developed two transparent cars for the New York World’s Fair of 1939-1940, one of which was a Deluxe seven-window touring sedan and the other of which was a Torpedo five-window touring sedan.
To prepare the transparent chassis of the 1939 Pontiac Deluxe Six, GM collaborated with Rohm & Haas, the chemical company that had recently developed Plexiglas. Using drawings for the Pontiac four-door Touring Sedan, Rohm & Haas constructed an exact replica body using Plexiglas in place of the outer sheet-metal. The structural metal underneath was given a copper wash, and all hardware, including the dashboard, was chrome plated. Rubber moldings were made in white, as were the car’s tires. It reportedly cost $25,000 to build – an astronomical figure in those days.
A second car, on a Torpedo Eight chassis, was hurriedly constructed for the 1940 Golden Gate Exposition on Treasure Island, a man-made island in San Francisco Bay. Once their respective showcases had closed, both “Plexiglas Pontiacs,” or “Ghost Cars” as they were sometimes known, toured the nation’s dealerships. The 1939-40 Deluxe Six is the only one known to survive.
Following the dealership tour, it went on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. where it remained through the duration of World War II. From there, it went to a couple of Pontiac dealers in Pennsylvania before another Pennsylvanian, Don Barlup, bought it in 1973. Barlup commissioned a partial restoration from S&H Pontiac of Harrisburg and sold it to collector Leo Gephart in 1979. The current owner’s father purchased it from Gephart in the early 1980s, and it has remained in the same family ever since.
[via Hemmings Blog]
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