Before starting our '65 program, we first had to find out what needed the most improvement. This information came largely from three sources: General Motors market research, some 25,000 questionnaires sent to selected Pontiac owners, and about 8000 unsolicited letters (we get that many in an average year). I read every owner letter we get so I can develop an overall owner reaction to the cars. But we're most strongly influenced by GM market research on our car and all the other cars in our price class.
We don't use market research to outguess the public's reception of a new car or design, but we do believe it has great value on a historical basis to show what buyers think of the cars they've already used. This information is carefully summarized, categorized, and then made into a booklet called Brickbats and Bouquets. Our edition compares and rates all the medium-priced cars on a wide variety of subjects, including quality, quietness, economy, ride, handling, transmission performance, power brakes, etc., etc.
We'll usually carry over the features that get good ratings in Brickbats and Bouquets, but we try to make substantial changes in weak areas. In many respects, our cars are only our opinion about how certain compromises should be resolved. As a result of this research, our opinion on the compromise will occasionally be wrong, and we'll make a change.
The Brickbats and Bouquets survey does produce one big problem for us. We actually ask for trouble. If you ask a man what's wrong with his car, you then have an obligation to fix it. Often, the owner mentions some petty annoyances he'd never have thought of mentioning if we hadn't asked. But once it's mentioned, we have to take care of it.
Besides the things suggested by these surveys and letters, we incorporate a great many other changes that come from Pontiac proper and GM in general plus innovations that our suppliers or competitors have developed.
One important change on the '65 Pontiac is the swept-hip perimeter frame, which we adopted this year. Several other cars were adopting the conventional perimeter frame we introduced in 1961. This frame, much like the Tempest frame, started as a weight-reduction program. It does reduce weight, but we also found several other advantages, including an improvement in the floor, because the side rails are lower. Sill heights are lowered on all Pontiacs, making entrance and exit easier. It eliminates the sharp kick-up in the floor at the sill. In terms of ride and strength, the new frame is about the same as the older one. Our 1965 B-body chassis (Pontiac) turns out to be a lot like the 1964 A-body chassis (Tempest), except that the steering gear is ahead of the front suspension in the Tempest.
New ideas include some most people would consider minor. A good example is our new articulated windshield wiper. We feel it's one of the most worthwhile wiper improvements since windshield washers. Although this wiper is rather expensive to make, we feel it's worth the extra cost this year, especially, because it increases the wiped area by 11.5%. Most of the increase is in the critical areas next to the pillars. Another advantage of this wiper is that the blade's pressed more firmly against the glass.
We almost had to use the articulated wiper on the new Pontiac. We'd changed our windshield design so it has less curvature (to accommodate the curved side glass and for improved vision). Since the pillars are curved, too, the windshield is now narrower at the top than at the belt line. With conventional wipers on this type of windshield, there's a lot less wiped area, because the movement of the wiper arm has to be restricted to keep the blade from hitting the pillar. A conventional wiper on this windshield, especially, cuts down forward vision for a short person, because there's a much larger unwiped triangle at each lower corner.
To solve this problem, we've come up with a wiper that moves across the windshield in a parallelogram. This is only possible when there's a relative movement between the wiper arm and the blade as they sweep the windshield. To get this articulation, a blade-control link connects the blade assembly to a fixed pin on the wiper transmission housing. The length and location of the wiper arm, blade-arm length, and blade-control link were all critical. We had to do considerable cut-and-try experimentation before we got the right parallelism between the outer blade position and the windshield pillar.
Both the windshield and the rear window of this year's Pontiacs are bonded to the body with a new room-temperature-cured rubber sealing compound. It gives a neater, slimmer look to the molding; also results in a tighter bond than the former rubber gaskets, while eliminating squeaks and noises.
We got a big increase in interior space by using curved side glass. Because this glass has about the same contour as the lower part of the doors, it gives us thinner doors and a more efficient use of space. The cars look better, both inside and out. Hardtop and convertible models have frameless curved side glass for a further extension of their sporty look.
There are several other advantages to curved windows. Because of the reduced wind noise, we discovered that we could open the rear side windows of our car and still carry on a conversation. This was impossible before. Also, there's extra shoulder room. The cars are a little more aerodynamically shaped, and the curvature of the glass and door gives a nice, sleek, integrated look.
All Pontiac convertibles now have a rear window made of 1/8-inch tempered glass. This gives the best combination of visibility and durability. It does away entirely with crinkling and scratching. Although you can unzip and lower the window for added ventilation, you don't have to remove it when the top comes down. As a matter of fact, it's recommended that the glass be in position when you lower the top.