The story behind Jerry Preston's mild custom '59 Bonneville is a familiar one. Jerry had a similar car back in the early '60s, and it was always one of his favorites. "It was a fast car in its day," Jerry says, noting that his had the triple-carb setup atop the 389ci mill. Introduced at a time when Pontiac was shedding its stodgy image for a more youthful persona, the '59s debuted the company's now-signature split grille styling, as well as the "wide track" chassis design. They also grew wild, twin-blade fins atop each quarter-panel.
It's worth noting that Jerry grew up in south Los Angeles county and cruised the boulevards in Bellflower, Lakewood, and Long Beach during the area's mild custom heyday. And even though his Bonneville didn't wear a coveted Watson spray job, it sounds like it was plenty cool with custom gold paint, chrome wheels, and a moderately lowered suspension.
A few years back, Jerry picked up another '59 Bonneville, a bright red hardtop that's restored to stock condition with the exception of an airbag suspension. He still longed for a more modified version, however. "My idea was to do what I would have 46 years ago if I had the money," Jerry says. So he tracked down another Bonne and set out to build a mild custom companion to his resto ride.
"Taking advantage of the size of the car, my first thought was to get it as low as possible," Jerry says. Over at the Bag Man in Anaheim, Ponch adjusted the Poncho's altitude with a quartet of air springs, while the addition of full-length lakes pipes and fender skirts offered the illusion of an even lower, longer cruiser. When asked if it's low enough, Jerry declares, "It's almost there!"
Beyond the airbags, the Bonneville's chassis was rebuilt and restored, while Bryce Auto freshened up the 389ci mill with new rings and bearings and an HEI distributor. Ace Muffler, meanwhile, gave the car a classic sound by building a dual exhaust system with 26-inch glasspacks.
Considering the car's bold factory styling, Jerry had R&B Auto Body refrain from making any major metal changes. Instead, the shop stripped the body bare, repaired what little damage there was, shaved the emblems and door handles, and laid down a smooth coat of 2006 Corvette Red Pearl paint. The rich exterior color was contrasted nicely by yards and yards of pearl white tuck 'n' roll with burgundy inserts, ably stitched by OC Custom Upholstery.
Yes, it's a familiar tale: boy gets car; boy loses car; man re-creates car when he's better able to afford and appreciate it. That doesn't make Jerry's land yacht of a Pontiac any less cool, though, and it hasn't kept him from enjoying the wide-track ride and earning awards wherever he cruises.