The Bonneville name first appeared in 1954 on a pair of bubble-topped GM Motorama concept cars called the Bonneville Special. It entered the production lineup as a high-performance, fuel-injected luxury convertible in the 1957 model year and was loaded with every conceivable option as standard equipment with the exception of optional air conditioning. This put the Bonneville in a Cadillac-like price range of $5,000 - more than double the base price of a Chieftain four-door sedan. A fully equipped Bonneville could cost more than a Cadillac. Only 630 units were produced that first year, making it one of the most collectible Pontiacs of all time. The Bonneville endured until 2005 as the division's top-of-the-line model. The name was taken from the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, the site of much early auto racing and most of the world's land speed record runs.
The Bonneville added a coupe in 1958, and it paced the Indianapolis 500 that year. This year's Bonneville had a significantly lower price tag of around $3,000 thanks to the demotion of most of the luxury items found on the '57 model from standard equipment to the option list. Also a 300horsepower (220kW) 370cubic inches (6,100cc) V8 with four-barrel carburetor and dual exhausts was now standard equipment. The fuel-injection system offered with the standard engine on the '57 model was now listed as an extra cost option but very few '58 Bonnevilles were so equipped due to a towering price tag of over $500 USD, which was not considered a very good value considering that for less than $100 USD, a Tri-Power option was available with three two-barrel carburetors and even more power.