1948 Pontiac Silver Streak Eight Convertible

A vintage American automobile to say the least, this 1948 Pontiac Silver Streak 8 Convertible is a fine representation of late 1940’s design. The Pontiac Silver Streak was one of four cars offered by Pontiac in 1948. In addition there was the 1948 Pontiac Streamliner Eight Wagon offered.

1948 Pontiac Torpedo
1948 Pontiac Torpedo Silver Streak

Two models were Streamliner and Torpedo. Each came with a six cylinder and an eight cylinder engine. Wheelbases in 1948 were 119.0 inches and 122.0 inches. Two 

The Torpedo Eight was also called the Silver Streak and was built on the 119 inch wheelbase only. The Silver Streak was the name given for the straight eight engine.

Some refer to the car itself as the Silver Streak which we’ve also done in this article but officially to Pontiac the car was a Torpedo model. The Silver Streak / Torpedo was built by Pontiac from 1940 through 1948 with the exception of the war years. Production stopped in February 1942 at which time about 83,500 1942 models were built.

The 1948 Silver Streak Convertible

Pontiac offered the Silver Streak 8 Deluxe Convertible featured in this article on the shorter 119 inch chassis. The convertible was also offered with the six cylinder engine. These were Pontiac’s only convertibles at the time. The Silver Streak Eight Torpedo, some have said, was America’s first muscle car.

1948 pontiac convertible
1948 Pontiac Convertible

The overall car design was similar in a large way to the pre War styles however 1948 was the first year that Pontiac offered both the Standard and Deluxe styling themes.

One of the differences between the Standard and Deluxe models was the amount of bright trim. In addition, Deluxe models had stainless steel gravel guards. The Indian head hood ornament was on both the six and eight cylinder cars. The Silver Streak 8 script appears on those cars with script as shown on our photo. Some design tweaking was done for the 1948 models.

For instance, the 1948 model’s grille was a bit lower than the grilles of 1946 and 1947. The Torpedo was built on the GM A Body which was shared by Chevrolet. The Streamliner was built on a B Body that was shared with Oldsmobile, Cadillac and Buick.

1948 pontiac torpedo dashboard
Pontiac Torpedo Eight interior and dash

1948 Was a Strong Sales Year

Total Pontiac production for 1948 was about 334,000 vehicles of which 84,600 were Torpedo models. Out of these about 11,000 convertible Torpedo models were built.

Sales were terrific in a large part from the pent up consumer demand from the war years. Pontiac sold every single car they produced. The first new post war generation of Pontiacs would debut one year later for the 1949 model year.

1948 Pontiac Silver Streak 8 Torpedo Specs

This Pontiac Torpedo came with a 249 cubic inch Silver Streak Straight Eight engine delivering 107 horsepower.

1948 was the first year of the Hydra-Matic transmission for Pontiac. The Hydra-Matic was the first fully automatic transmission built. The first Hydra-matic, also called Hydramatic, came out for the 1940 model year for Oldsmobile. Cadillac followed one year later. It wouldn’t appear in the Pontiac for another eight years largely because of the war.

Over two-thirds of the 1948 Pontiacs produced had these automatic transmissions.

1948 pontiac torpedo grille
1948 Pontiac Torpedo full width grille

Dimensions for the 1948 Pontiac Torpedo included a wheelbase of 119.0 inches, a width of 75.75 inches and an overall length of 204.5 inches. The convertible weighed about 3,550 lbs.

Suspension included coil springs on the front and semi-elliptic leaf springs on the rear. Brakes were four wheel hydraulic drum.

The car’s serial number is eight numbers long and should be found on the left front side of the dashboard.

Compare this Pontiac Torpedo to the autos in our AutoMuseumOnline articles on the links below…

The 1947 Ford Super Deluxe Convertible

New Post War Design 1949 Cadillac

A Beautiful 1950 Willys Station Wagon


An excellent book available on the Pontiac cars is… 75 Years of Pontiacs by author John Gunnell..

The 1948 Pontiac Torpedo Eight Collector Car

The 1948 Pontiac Torpedo Silver Streak Convertible is the rarest of 1948 Pontiacs. So few were built that model year, some 11,000 convertibles, finding a restored one is not that easy. People that own one or have rode in one know that it’s a classic 40’s cruiser.

1948 Pontiac torpedo interior
Another view of the Pontiac Torpedo dash

The 1948 Pontiacs were significant as they were the last of the pre war designs. Most American automakers unveiled their new post war generation cars in either 1948 or 1949.

These automobiles have the typical convertible allure which is a positive and the inside and outside finish is done well. If the automobile still has the Straight Eight engine so much the better. An originally equipped Torpedo is an iconic American vehicle.

The car is a classic as well as an antique vehicle. In addition to this the Pontiac marquee no longer exists which could be a plus for future appreciation.

While there are several 1948 Torpedo models, sedans,  on the market for prices in the mid to high teens, you’ll also find mint condition convertible restorations priced in the $30,000 range and higher. Like many other collectible cars, the more originality usually leads to better valuations.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)