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Phil Brinkley's Flamed 1929 Pontiac Roadster Pickup

Phil Brinkley's Flamed 1929 Pontiac Roadster Pickup


The first Pontiac arrived in 1926. By 1928, a stripped down Pontiac that a dealer made into a racing car became the first Pontiac street rod. LIn the ‘50s, at least one Bonneville streamliner was built around a Pontiac straight eight, but it wasn’t until 1955 that rodders really got interested in Pontiacs.

Early in 1956, after the launch of its OHV V-8, Pontiac formed an association with Lou Moore, a racing mechanic who had long experience with the Indy 500. Moore was hired to build two Pontiacs for NASCAR drivers Cotton Owens and Buddy Krebs to pilot at Daytona Speed Weeks. The cars had a special 285-hp 317-cid Pontiac V-8 that was then made available for all models.

In 1960, Pontiac ad man Jim Wangers took the NHRA’s Top Stock Eliminator title with a 363-hp Pontiac built by Royal Pontiac. Another of Knudsen’s hot rodding friends—Mickey Thompson—also did a lot to promote the Pontiac name in the 1959-1960 period. His electric blue Challenger I Bonneville streamliner, powered by a four Pontiac V-8s, set the World Land Speed Record at 363.67 mph. This set the stage for the some legendary ‘60s Pontiac racecars such as “Swiss Cheese” and Super-Duty Catalinas and the original 1964 GTO.

Today, things have changed. The Pontiac Oakland Club International ( even has a special Pontiac hot rod chapter. Craftsmen like Lou Calisibetta of Old Stillwater Garage in Stillwater, N.J., have become specialists in customizing or hot rodding Pontiacs. Calisibetta is famous for his redo of the Alexander Brothers “Golden Indian,” a radically customized ‘60 Pontiac hardtop.

Still, compared to Fords and Mercurys—and even Buicks and Lincolns—it is rare to see a Pontiac custom or hot rod. That’s why the 1929 Pontiac roadster pickup that Phillip Brinkley of Rose Hill, Kansas took to the 42nd Annual POCI Convention in Wichita was such an attention getter. The build quality and detailing this car encompassed were simply amazing,

The car was finished in a steely gray color with blue-tipped lighter gray “ghost flames.” Then, the flame motif was duplicated in sheet metal on the top of the front radius rods and with a panel that bolted to the radiator shell and flowed back over the drive belt system and the front top of the Pontiac V-8 engine.  Charcoal flames were also molded into the light gray interior door panels.

The engine featured a Tri-Power unit with three two-barrel carburetors and Mickey Thompson M/T ribbed valve covers. A straight-line automatic transmission handled gear shifting. A traditional 1929 Pontiac Indian head radiator mascot complete with a bronze-faced warrior and nickel silver feathers.  Gray sheet metal flames also trimmed the edge of the pickup box. Polished 5-spoke wheels and BF Goodrich Radial T/A tires were other nice touches.  These rare rods are always a treat to see in person.