World War II was over, the Korean War had not yet begun, and the auto industry was in full production, with more model changes in 1949 than in any previous year. At General Motors, legendary designer Harley Earl brought his first postwar efforts to the 1949 Pontiac, a sleek envelope body style shared by Chevrolets and the smaller Oldsmobiles. The Pontiac Chieftain Deluxe, shown here with the optional windshield sun visor, was the top-of-the-line model. (Pontiac also offered a Catalina hardtop coupe.) The pioneering pillarless hardtop design helped make the Chevy, Buick, Pontiac and Olds divisions among the seven top-selling cars in 1949. Pontiacs came in two basic shapes, the notchback shown here and the Streamliner fastbacks. They came with a straight-six or straight-eight engine, and buyers could choose from a list of options that included under-seat heaters, illuminated hood ornaments, rear Venetian blinds and rear fender skirts.
Engine: 248.9-cubic-inch straight-eight
Horsepower: 106 at 3,800 rpm
Wheelbase: 120 inches
Overall length: 202 1/2 inches
Seating capacity: 5
President: Harry S. Truman
Dow Jones industrial average (year-end): 200.10
Academy Award movie: "All the King's Men"
Milestone: Minimum wage raised to 70 cents an hour