Back in 1940, a lot of things we take for granted today were then the peak of technical progress. Helicopters, for example had just been invented a year prior by Igor Sikorsky. In 1940, the first color television was invented and the first of what would become known as the Jeep rolled on to the Army’s proving grounds. Another new invention was Plexiglas. While just a year later it would be used for the noses and canopies of Allied Bombers, in 1939 chemical company Rohm & Haas didn’t know how to show off their useful new invention. So, in honor of the 1940 New York World’s Fair, they decided to team up with General Motors’ Pontiac division to create the America’s first Plexiglas bodied car, the 1939-40 Pontiac Plexiglas Deluxe Six, which is now up for auction.
The 1939-40 Pontiac Plexiglas Deluxe Six as the name implies was built on the chassis of a 1939 Pontiac Deluxe in 1940; hence the 1939-40 model year. The Plexiglas Deluxe Six was based on drawings of a Pontiac Four-Door Touring Sedan and Rohm & Haas replaced all of the sheet metal with their new Plexiglas. All of the structural components underneath were built by GM and were given a copper wash before being wrapped in Plexiglas. To complete the see-through look, all of the Plexiglas Deluxe Six’s trim and hardware was chromed and then all of its rubber (including the original U.S. Royal tires which it still rolls on), was painted white.
Like the rest of the car, even the engine received a unique cosmetic treatment. Under the hood, the Plexiglas Deluxe Six received an 85-hp 222.7-cubic inch L-Head I-6 painted in a special white coloring to match the tires and other rubber bits of the car. Power was routed through a three-speed column-mounted manual transmission. How much did all of this cutting-edge technology cost? Back in 1940 it cost GM and Rohm & Haas $25,000 to build. Taking inflation into account, that’s a whopping $388,209 today.
After its successful display at the New York World’s Fair in 1940, GM and Rohm & Haas rushed to build a second “ghost car” as it was now know for the Golden Gate Exposition in San Francisco. Both vehicles then together toured Pontiac dealerships across the country. After the tour, the original Plexiglas Deluxe Six was put on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., while the fate of its sister was lost.
In 1947 the car was removed from display and it spent the next 30 years being passed around Pennsylvania Pontiac dealers, before it was purchased by a collector in 1980 where it remained; the still-running Plexiglas Deluxe Six collecting only 86 miles on its odometer until this day.
This one-of-a-kind Plexiglas Pontiac still looks just like it did at the New York World’s Fair back in 1940. It’ll now be up for sale at RM Auctions’ July 30 Plymouth, Mich. auction and the unique Pontiac is expected to fetch a hefty $475,000 at auction.
Source: RM Auctions