Under The Hood

Euro Poncho has mysterious origins

American history is filled with the stories of Europeans landing in North America among the indigenous “Indians.” Well, here’s a tale of a unique Indian landing in Europe.

Tim Dye of the Pontiac Oakland Automobile Museum in Pontiac, Ill., recently received this mysterious photo of a European 1933 Pontiac . For anyone acquainted with “Chiefs,” or even General Motors products of the 1930s, there’s  something noticeably different about this  Pontiac — it wears convertible victoria coachwork often seen in Europe, but rarely fitted on production cars in the United States.

This 1933 Pontiac is certainly a coachbuilt car built for the European market, but what coachbuilder constructed the body? Where was that company based? European coachbuilders that fit their work to mass-produced chassis often fitted similar bodies to many different makes, so how many were built? What other cars used this same (or very similar) victoria body fitted on this Pontiac?

This isn't an ordinary 1933 Pontiac - the car carries a coachbuilt convertible victoria body of unknown origins.


From the cowl rearward, and above the running boards, this convertible victoria shares nothing with a Michigan-built 1933 Pontiac. The coachbuilder's tag is visible beneath the bottom edge of the door and its shape should offer a clue as to the company that built the convertible victoria body.

During this time, open Pontiacs were only available as roadsters or convertible coupes, which meant only the front seat passengers could be protected by a roof and rear passengers were left to the elements in a rumble seat. This convertible victoria could also have enclosed the rear seat passengers once rain drops fell.

Related Resources

Get all the Pontiac facts, figures and photos in Standard Catalog of Pontiac 1926-2002

4 thoughts on “Euro Poncho has mysterious origins

  1. Rob Reilly

    The dumpy tail and the way the top folds down in a big high pointy heap suggests to me a German coachbuilder, not 1933 but probably couple of years after the car was new. Not one of the great ones like Singelfingen that did the Mercedes 540Ks but one of the also-rans like Tuscher or Beutler.
    I would check books and websites covering the German coachbulders.

  2. Dick Absher

    With regard to Angelo’s “Under the Hood” blog dated April 19, 2012. The 1933 Pontiac (Poncho) with non-US coachwork, as pictured has a Zurich, Switzerland (prefix ZH), license plate. The Swiss license plate could suggest that the coachwork is in fact Swiss. I don’t know if any of the modern-day Swiss coach builders were in business in the 1930s; suggestions include Graber, Worblauen, Waibel, and Franco Sbarro.

    1. Max Bertschinger


      this is the first Car from my grandfather. the persons in the car are my family and the license plate ZH 26999 is today in my property. I search this or a same car for my oldtimer-collection. Please see my homepage under ARCHIV. Thank you for answer and sorry for my bad english.

      Greetings from switzerland!

      Max Bertschinger

  3. Max Bertschinger

    I have found the name of the manufacturer of this convertible victoria body:
    The small swiss company RUCKSTUHL of Lucerne manufactured from 1925-38 unique pieces or small series of sedans and cabriolets on luxury-chassis. I am momentary at further clarifications.


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