Concours Winning 1947 Pontiac Streamliner Woodie ($245,000)
Photography by Ted Gushue
Written by Andrew Golseth
1947 Pontiac Streamliner Ionia Woodie Station Wagon
- Location: Los Angeles, California
- Engine: 240 cu. in. straight-eight
- Transmission: Three-speed column-shift automatic
- Mileage: Unknown mileage from new | ~700 miles since restoration
- Color: Nonmetallic navy blue / Brown leather
The White Picket Fence, A Family Dog, And A Woodie In The Driveway
Today, “American excess” is often a phrase used to negatively describe western world consumerism. Obsessed with the next best thing, dissatisfied with a two-year “old” iPhone the second the new model is released, and jealousy from coveting the Jones’ superficial extravagant lifestyle: it’s easy to see why American excess gets a bad rap with our culture’s incessant “feed refresh” attitude, but it wasn’t always like this.
After the Second World War, The Greatest Generation set out to define the American Dream. Education was inexpensive, jobs were plentiful, and the ever-expanding suburb housing market offered affordable home ownership for young newlyweds ready to pop a bun in the oven. These all-American families needed transportation to take Jimmy Jr. and little sister Sally to and from school, escort the family on cross-country excursions, and pick up visiting family from the airport.
Thankfully, the Big Three in Detroit offered family haulers in spades. From big body coupes and convertibles, four-door sedans, and wagons—the ultimate roadway utility vehicle of the 1950s—when did we collectively trade these in for SUV? Of the many trim levels offered, a five door Woodie made the boldest statement. There’s just something so inviting about warm wood slab sided wagons. All the American Iron makers offered long roofs during the period, but the Pontiac Streamliner might be the most red, white, and blue.
Pontiac’s first Post-War production car was the Streamliner. Initially a fastback coupe, the Streamliner’s cloak was an innovative design that made it instantly distinguishable from much of the era’s monotonous auto market. The Indian chief head ornament adorned hood stretches all the way back to the windshield instead of stopping at a separate cowl panel and the sloped fenders are extended into the front doors, both of which create an elongating effect. The headlamps are spaced farther apart to make room for the wider three bar framed grill and overrider bumper, giving the car a broad highway dominating demeanor.
Measuring in at almost 216 inches in length, the Streamliner station wagon set a new record as the longest Pontiac ever made. By 1947, the “Silver Streak” polished hood strips were upped to five bars, distinguishing the straight-eight model over the base six-cylinder powered variants. The Streamliner station wagons were constructed at Ionia Manufacturing and the top-of-the-line trim package, known as the Deluxe-Eight, was priced around $2,100—making it Pontiac’s most expensive car at the time.
Make no mistake: if you drove a Pontiac Streamliner Woodie estate in the late 1940s and 1950s, your family was doing A-OK. Large, powerful, luxurious, expensive, and finished in enough brightwork to make a B17 Flying Fortress jealous and more bark than the Redwood National Park, the Pontiac Streamliner Woodie was the epitome of American excess when American excess was something to be proud of, guilt free.
This 1947 Pontiac Streamliner Deluxe-Eight Woodie Wagon is probably the cleanest example on earth—likely even nicer than when it left the Ionia factory 70 years ago. In the 1990s, a carpenter by the name of Chris Messano picked up this then battered Pontiac in hopes that some day, he’d restore the car back to its former glory. Over the years, Chris Messano Woodworks earned a well-deserved reputation for being the United States’ (if not the world’s) finest Woodie panel restorer. After a decade of labor totaling more than 5,000 man hours, the no-expense-spared resurrection was complete.
The woodwork alone totaled more than $65,000, the bodywork and dark nonmetallic paint job cost upwards of $25,000, and the upholstery fetched $15,000 to fabricate. But it’s not the restoration expense tally that makes this motorcar exceptional, it’s the inconceivable attention to detail that elevates this restored Woodie from wonderful to extraordinary.
For example, the door hinges are estimated to have more than 80 hours of work, the $3,000 rain channels had to be handmade, and the front floor mats required the construction of custom molds to ensure the carpets sat properly. Under the long hood lies the original numbers-matching Deluxe-Eight engine, rebuilt and topped with the appropriate valve covers. Perhaps most impressively, every bolt was painted with no thread mark scarring on the finish!
Chris unveiled the the car at the 2008 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance where it received 2nd place in the GM Woody Class—which we’re told was a dice roll win and after seeing the car first hand we’re inclined to agree. Since the restoration, the car has seen just 700 miles of use and maintains Chris’ impeccable standards throughout. Every feature on the car works precisely as it should down to the passenger side dash mounted clock and flip-down taillights so the car can be legally driven with the tailgate down—how trick is that?
- Numbers-matching body panels refinished in factory nonmetallic navy blue
- Flawless woodwork from the industry’s best Woodie specialist
- Body trim, chrome, and brightwork in like-new condition
- Exceptional “finger-groove” woodworking joints
- Complete functioning instrumentation to include passenger dash mounted clock
- Bench seats reupholstered in correct “Deluxe-Eight” brown leather
- Custom molded carpet and floor mats form fitted to the floor
- All-new wood woven headliner
- Rebuilt “Deluxe-Eight” 240 cubic inch “Deluxe-Eight” cylinder
- Rebuilt suspension and new brakes at all four
- Numbers-matching powertrain
As previously mentioned, this American cruiser underwent a rigorous restoration, but the steel body panels and rebuilt powertrain are numbers-matching original factory installed parts. The woodwork was completely reproduced by Chris Messano and the work speaks for itself—simply stunning. Every piece of trim, brightwork, and chrome has either been tediously refurbished or replaced with new-old-stock (NOS) equipment. The interior materials, fit-and-finish, and stitch work are in factory new or better presentation. Every mechanical, electrical, and hand-operated function on this vehicle is working properly without issue.
The original owner’s manual and documents related to the restoration.
1947 – Late 90s | Owner(s) History Unknown | California
Late 90s – 2010 | Chris Messano | California
2010 – Current | Mike Malamut | California
MEET THE SELLER
The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is the standard for antique and classic car scrutiny. Only the world’s finest automobiles are permitted and the crop that takes home trophies is all the more special. With a numbers-matching chassis and powertrain, restored to factory specifications, and woodwork constructed by one of the world’s greatest Woodie craftsman, we doubt another Streamliner will be rebuilt to this caliber again. Here’s your chance to own a piece American motoring history.