1959 Pontiac Star Chief 389 TriPower 4-Speed!

Here’s a listing that’s loaded with potential. It’s not a convertible or coupe, but a plain vanilla two-door sedan. It’s undoubtedly full of character, though: a 1959 Pontiac Star Chief, rarely seen in this configuration. The car is here on eBay in Gorham, Maine with a $12,600 bid, reserve not met, and not much time left.

This car, from an honest vendor, has a lot going for it. The photos were shot in a dark garage, but they convey that this is a real dry western car, with next to no rust in the floors and rockers. The trunk evidently was pinholed, but the previous owner replaced it with a new panel. The chrome is there and looks mostly good. It’s relatively subdued for a 1959 Pontiac.

The vendor, an experienced collector, is “thinning out my projects.” He is 76 years old and “getting tired.” Who can blame him? But he (or the previous owner) had enough energy to rebuild the engine, which has zero miles and “runs great.” The non-original four-speed manual trans was also rebuilt, as was the positraction rear end. You may be realizing at this point that this is shaping up to be a performance car!

The engine is a 389, and the owner has a tri-power carb setup for it. The carbs need to be rebuilt, but a kit is included. Originally it was an automatic with a single four-barrel, and the original transmission is included. Also needed are “reconnecting some wiring” and “minor tinkering.” But it should be easily put on the road.

Other new parts include the hydraulic clutch and dual exhaust. What can be seen of the original seats look quite good, and very evocative. “Usable trim panels” are also included, but are off of the car. A new headliner and carpets are required.

My family had a ’57 Star Chief as our chauffeured ride during a stint in Iran working for the U.S. government, circa 1963 to 1965. They’re tanks! What we’re seeing here is the fourth generation of the Star Chief, which was 1959 and 1960 only. Unlike the Bonneville, the ’59 Star Chief was only available as a sedan or hardtop. It was about 18 percent of Pontiac “wide track” sales that year.

The Bonneville and Catalina were Pontiac’s stars in ’59, but cars like this Star Chief—even in this entry-level, dechromed edition—have a lot of appeal.

“This would be a great winter project,” the owner says. And how!

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Always liked Pontiacs from this era, but t’was no drag racer,,not yet. The earliest Pontiac drag cars I can find, were 1960, and even then, not many. While they certainly had the power, they were just too heavy. That all changed in ’61 with the “Super Duty”, with lightened frame and body panels. It literally dominated the race tracks, until Ford and Chrysler put an end to that. So, since very few Pontiacs were equipped this way in ’59, this is someones rendition of a Pontiac drag racer, that probably never was. It’s a really neat find.

    Like 10
  2. Jim stein

    289 was Ford motor 389 was Pontiac

    Like 5
    • 19sixty5 Member

      289 was also a Studebaker engine, no relation to the Ford engine at all.

      Like 7
    • Joshua Mortensen Staff

      Sorry for the typo! I accidentally hit the “2” key instead of the “3”. It’s since been corrected. Thanks for catching that!

      Like 1
  3. PaulG

    Jim, Nice write up, however the title says 289, as you know it’s a 389.
    Surprised no one has hit the 16.5 K buy-it-now.
    Could be because it’s in Maine!
    Super nice project at a reasonable price…

    Like 11
    • jim motavalli Staff

      Editorial typo. It’s correct in the story. We will fix.

      Like 3
  4. Ragtop Man

    Valve covers have an odd shape for a Pontiac – but it sure looks original; the “collars and cuffs” appear to match. Good winter project for someone, I think the price plateaus pretty soon considering the non-running condition.

    Like 2
  5. John P

    Great car.. I always find it strange however when the car with active bidding gets so close to the buy it now and no one slams a hammer home and takes it for the buy it now price… 🤷‍♂️

    Like 3
  6. Joe Haska

    Its worth the Buy Now price.

  7. Mike

    If I didn’t have too many projects going I would buy this car in a heartbeat I always loved these cars!

  8. S

    Someone wisely made an upgrade to a dual reservoir master cylinder on this.

    Like 1
  9. Bill

    My first car as a kid 389 automatic four-barrel carburetor and that car flew!!!! love that car

    Like 1

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