- The Washington Times - Friday, March 23, 2001

William Sessler's late father, Arthur, was a partner in the Prince Pontiac/Oldsmobile dealership that opened late in 1960 in Manassas, Va.
Since the new operation didn't have any trade-ins to fill the used-car lot, a buyer was sent to scour the auctions far and wide for good used cars.
In the autumn of 1961, as Mr. Sessler recalls, the buyer was in North Carolina at an auction on a cold and rainy day. When the dead last car crossed the block it caught his eye, so he purchased the black 1933 Pontiac with white pinstripes.
The buyer drove the old even then car home to Manassas where Mr. Sessler's father fell in love with it. "My dad saw it," Mr. Sessler recounts, "and took it home."
What wasn't there to like? The handsome Pontiac had a hand brake sprouting from the floor, alongside a gear shift lever that operates a three-speed synchromesh transmission. Most important, Mr. Sessler explains, "This is the first year for this engine. It's the king of the straight eights."
The 223-cubic-inch engine produces 77 horsepower. Four large vertical louvers on each side of the engine hood help keep the eight cylinders running cool.
Three or four years later Mr. Sessler was idly looking through the list of used cars owned by the auto dealership and noticed the 1933 Pontiac on the list even though his father had laid claim to it years before.
After bringing the overlooked fact to his father's attention, his father purchased it and took legal title.
For the next two decades both father and son enjoyed driving the 3,020-pound, four-door sedan on special occasions. Even in the heat of summer the Fisher No-Draft Ventilation system, featuring the wind-stream principle, keeps the occupants comfortable.
From bumper to bumper the Pontiac stretches 1 1/2 inches longer than 15 feet. It rides on a 115-inch wheelbase with a ground clearance of 8 inches.
In 1983 Mr. Sessler steered the 40-spoke wheels toward an antique auto gathering in Hershey, Pa. Fortunately his father was close behind in another vehicle.
They weren't even halfway there when, with no warning, a rod came blasting through the side of the engine. That certainly ruined their outing.
After getting the Pontiac towed, the father and son proceeded on to Hershey and spend the day shopping for a replacement straight eight engine and assorted parts.
With the disabled Pontiac at home, Mr. Sessler's father asked him what he wanted to do with the car.
"We might as well restore it," Mr. Sessler responded.
That's when they began to take apart the entire car. A couple of similar parts cars were bought, one of which provided the engine. The other parts car donated the metal shroud for the spare tire at the rear of the car. A carburetor came from the Hershey flea market.
From the shovel-style V-shaped radiator tilted back gracefully to the gas cap on the 18-gallon tank at the rear, the entire car was restored.
An unhappy surprise occurred when it was discovered that the wooden framework around which the body was formed needed to be replaced. "New wood for the top and the doors was needed," Mr. Sessler said. Each of the four doors required about $1,000 of woodwork, he painfully recalls.
After the body was stripped, Mr. Sessler received a happy surprise. "It had never even been dented," he reports. With a perfectly pristine body before him Mr. Sessler decided to paint the body Martini brown with Wilshire brown fenders accented by apple green wheels and pinstripes. Of course, the insert in the top is black.
The rear window and the farthest rear side windows all are capped with pull-down privacy shades, a nice touch designed to differentiate the Pontiac from the Chevrolet.
Above the three-spoke steering wheel is the single visor. The Pontiac does have two wipers and a 100 mph speedometer. "I've had it up to 65 mph years ago," Mr. Sessler confesses.
A cowl vent helps to cool the interior, and a four-door under-dashboard heater is there to knock off wintry chills.
After about three years of labor the restoration of the Pontiac was as complete as a restoration ever is.
Thereafter, the Sesslers took their car to several Antique Automobile Club of America shows and won several prestigious awards. Since his father's death, Mr. Sessler has, in deference to his dad, retired the car. It only makes occasional appearances now.
When he does take the top-heavy Pontiac on an outing, he makes certain that the radiator, crankcase and gas tank are full, as well as the 5.25x17-inch tires.
Mr. Sessler is a firm believer that if you take care of your car, it will take care of you, even if it is 68 years old.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide