Engines usually don't dominate the picture in "Auto Album." Even though my files contain many views of the 1951 Pontiacs, I was never able, until 2005, to find any good, clear pictures of 1951 Pontiac engines. Then a faithful reader and friend, Bruce Gilbert, kindly gave me a brochure on 1951 Pontiacs, which included great photos of both the six and eight-cylinder L-head engines Pontiac had used for years.
Since General Motors had introduced Pontiac in 1926, 1951 was the Silver Anniversary year! Pontiac's choice of sixes or straight-8's had continued since 1935, the year Pontiac also began its famed "Silver Streak" set of parallel chrome bands running lengthwise atop the hood. This was an identifying characteristic of Pontiacs from 1935 to 1956.
As for the mighty but sluggish-on-pickup straight-8's, Pontiac and Packard were the last to give them up, following the 1954 model year, and in 1955, they both joined the V-8 bandwagon, along with Chevrolet, Plymouth, Hudson and Nash. The horsepower race was on! Incidentally, most L-head engines (with the spark plugs on top) were discontinued by the mid-1960s.
If you, like many, have never seen a straight-8 engine before, now you know what one looks like.
Pontiac kept its pleasing "pontoon-style" body profile from 1949 to 1952 with just minor facelifts each year -- making more of a restyle in 1953.
Pontiacs of the early 1950s are attractive today to most car collectors.