Car Collector's Corner. This 1947 "Pontota" Police Transport Wagon is Definitely One of a Kind
The first thing that drew us to this 1947 Pontiac was its history. It was originally a paddy wagon or “Black Maria,” where a ride in this police vehicle meant that you were running out of luck in a hurry.
These days a ride in Hugh Thurston’s retro-wagon means a whole lot of happiness for him. He calls it a “Pontota”, because it is a Pontiac body on top of a Toyota 4-Runner frame and power train.
It took Hugh three long winters to forge a bond between the Pontiac body and Toyota frame, and he would not recommend the experience to the faint of heart.
The result is a driver quality vehicle that will fulfill its primary purpose as a great road vehicle until the snow flies and the next round of restoration begins over the winter. Right now Hugh wants to enjoy the view from behind the wheel of his Pontota. He’s already logged thousands of miles behind the wheel with many more to come with a journey to the East Coast planned for the fall.
It can double as a camper on road trips for Hugh, plus it pulls down around 30 mpg on the highway although Hugh allowed that a recent trip of several thousand miles was “closer to 27 mpg”. He admits that he “was probably driving the old wagon a lot faster on that trip”.
Nevertheless, the high 20s to low 30s miles per gallon range tell you that this is a very good combination when Hugh and the old paddy wagon hit the open road together.
Hugh seemed mildly surprised when he found that his vehicle drew so much attention when we met him at a car show. We weren’t surprised. A 1947 Pontiac paddy wagon is a story by itself. A 1947 Pontota is in a class by itself.
Together they make one of the most interesting resto-mods that we have ever seen in our travels.
For more of J Sutherland’s work go to mystarcollectorcar.com
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This drivetrain gets 18-20 mpg in its original body. How does is get 30 here? Part of driving an old car to me is the sound and feel of the old drivetrain. Guess that's not important to others.
Gotta call BS on 30mpg. Even in original form it the 4runner wasn't getting anywhere near that and it's not like the Pontiac body weighs less.