1953 Pontiac

By: David Palmeter 

Return with us now to way back when. My modeling career started in about 1949.

Back in the day, I bought a 1953 Pontiac flywheel, or coaster, promotional model like this one. As I remember, they were sold a the local five and dime; or was it the local hobby shop….? I am pretty sure I didn’t get it at a Pontiac dealer.


Not long after the purchase, I disassembled it, sanded off all the trim (the hood and trunk spears were separate metal pieces), sanded off the taillights, chopped the top, bent the metal chassis to lower the car, made a custom grille out of balsa and added wire wheels and a spare tire ‘continental kit’.



It was painted bright green and black.

The wire wheels were made by pushing cut off straight pins into the rubber tires. Ouch, ouch, ouch….


Wish I still had it. So…….


Above (eBay picture) – March 21, 2016 – I got so overwhelmed with nostalgia when reminiscing about the old missing Pontiac, I had to have another. Got this on eBay, arrived today, cost $27.18 with shipping. Now what…..?

Below – March 22, 2016 – First, let’s waste no time having a good look at what I actually have…..






Looks like a complete, minimum warpage car. The worst deformation was caused by the rear wheels not being properly reseated on the rear axle making the first “Wide Track” Pontiac. This pushed on the rear fenders for 50 or 60 years and bulged them out at the fender skirts.

The mild steel chassis is amazingly clean, they usually rust badly if handled at all.

Below – What a difference 9 years makes…..


Below – Okay, enough debate about whether to –
– restore it back to an original 1953 Pontiac model since it is complete and not cut
– or to make a replica of the custom I did when I was 14 years old.

Below – March 24, 2016 – I bought it to relive my childhood so let’s get hackin’. I did remember clearly from back in the day that the “Silver Streak” hood and trunk trim were separate pieces. Wonder if any other promo, flywheel, coaster models had separate trim? Interesting side note – the chassis, which was still shiny on the exposed bottom side, had total surface rust on the unexposed inside.


Below – I assume it was painted 50 or 60 years ago and was not painted with an easy-to-remove hobby paint. Maybe house or barn paint? I tried a few potions but nothing made an immediate impression on the paint. Lacquer thinner did melt away the plastic around the paint but hardly touched the actual paint itself.

Also shown, the brown discoloration from the rubber tire pressed against the inner fender.


Well, one way to remove some of the paint is to start sanding off the trim. Since the fender skirt area is bowed out, and the plastic is thick, I decided to start the trim removal in that area, reducing the bulge at the same time. You can see below how it is working –


Below – March 28, 2016 – The bulge in the middle of the skirt is leveling out.


Below – March 30, 2016 – All the right side trim is gone.


Below – March 31, 2016 – All the trim has been wet sanded off with 220 grit paper.



Below – April 2, 2016 – Time to remove all the remaining paint. I have ‘Super Clean’ and ‘Simple Green’ on hand but decided, on recommendation, to try 91% alcohol first on a small part of the body.


I checked frequently and, after about 90 minutes, noticed the 63 year old plastic was getting soft.


Above – The plastic rehardened after I took it out of the alcohol and washed it thoroughly. Next?

Below – How about if I sand or smooth all the paint, per suggestion of some modelling buddies, to eliminate the risk of total meltdown?


Above – April 14, 2016 – Can’t resist seeing how the continental kit will look….


Above – Back to work – Some Squadron Shop White Putty and the ‘Silver Streak’ ditches are gone. (History note – by 1957, the Silver Streaks were gone from all Pontiacs.)


Above – A cheering crowd loves the look!

Above – Smoothing things out….

And next?

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