28k Miles! 1954 Pontiac Chieftain Wagon

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This original 1954 Pontiac Chieftain wagon is yet another reason for me to be jealous of people who live in the drier southwest portions of the U.S. compared to where I live. This ultra-cool wagon can be found here on craigslist in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The seller is asking $9,500. Thanks to Ikey H. for sending in this great tip!

Roof rack not included, says the seller, but the perfect patina is very much included. As if I needed another reason to like Albuquerque, finding nice, original cars like this Pontiac just makes it even sweeter. Dig that chrome on the front! Let’s hope that it won’t have to be sent off to the chrome shop any time soon.

This appears to really be an honest car, worn by time and regular use – although with only 28,000 miles of regular use. Albuquerque can and does get snow (9.6-inches a year on average) but I don’t know if they use salt on the roads there in the winter – anyone? Someone out there in Barn Finds land has to live in Albuquerque. From what I’ve read they have used it but as a rule, vehicles don’t rust that badly in New Mexico, in general. Enough of that, back to this solid Pontiac.

This car is actually from Sante Fe, NM and it was owned by a Pontiac dealer until they closed up shop in 1990 and then it went to the son of the dealership owner. The current owner bought it from the son but they don’t say how long they’ve owned it. The rear seats look great and hopefully the next owner will restore the front seat. The rear cargo area looks like the rest of the car does, honest and pretty clean. 1954 would be the last year for the first-generation Chieftain and big changes were coming in 1955.

Part of the big change in the second-generation cars that came out in 1955 would be their first V8 engine and also a 12-volt charging system. You can see the 6-volt battery here sans its cover. The seller says that the engine is original but they don’t say what it is. I believe that it’s Pontiac’s 268 cubic-inch L-head inline-eight which would have had 127 hp with the Dual-Range Hydra-Matic. It runs and shifts perfectly, according to the seller. This car needs a master cylinder but other than that it sounds like it’s ready to go. The question is: would you restore or keep it maintained and looking original?

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  1. BlondeUXBMember

    Looks like a lot of steering wheel wear for 28k.
    I grew up with ‘53 Chieftain convertible in the family, cream w/green top and 2-tone green leather…

    Like 4
    • Norman

      I agree with BlondeUXB, way too much steering wheel wear for that to be 28k miles. Here’s a pic of my 53 Catalina wheel with no visible wear or fading and it has 42k original miles, my Dad bought it from the original owner in 1979 with 35k documented miles.
      I’d need to see a lot of documentation before I would believe anything less than 128k.
      Having said that, it is a very cool car and pretty rare to find one not totally rotted………..or fully restored for big $.
      I’d be all over this if I didn’t have a couple other projects already!

      Like 3
  2. Kenneth Carney

    Is it just me, or is the rear glass missing
    from the upper half of the tailgate? Small
    problem I know, but it looks like it is.
    Anyone know what color this car is? Will
    make a great portrait later on. Just finished the ’37 Ford woodie portrait
    yesterday, but haven’t posted it yet.
    Planning to put it on Let Go after I
    post it here. Feels good to be putt-
    puttin’ around my workshop again!

    Like 7
    • dpmarty

      Glass appears to be in place in images 2, 8 & 9 on Craigslist.

      Like 2
  3. bobk

    I don’t live in ABQ yet, but will by this time next year. However, we do make trips every quarter to attend HOA meetings for the airpark where I own a lot.

    I think that the use of salt is rare, but driving back from our January 2018 HOA meeting, we came up behind a NMDOT truck on I-40 spreading salt, at night, in heavy snow, showing nothing but a couple of minimal taillights. Damn near ran into his rear end because we couldn’t see him till it was almost too late. Won’t be doing that again anytime soon.

    Like 4
  4. chris RECKER

    very cool car, but im thinking 128k, 228k .. car had a very rough 28 thousand miles if origanal.. if this was someones low miledge one owner prize posetion , would the body and interior be that rough. by the way , old cars roll back to zero every 100k.. still a very cool car but if you dont have alot of doccumentaion to prove the miles, dont try and pass off something thats not true..

    Like 8
    • PatrickM


      Like 0
  5. Jeff

    Its really a kewl wagon and it seems like a fair price too!

    Like 2
  6. NotSure

    I think the seller needs to let that roof rack stay with the if a buyer wanted it. Also, isn’t the paint missing to the right of the gas filler door rather odd? Too many overfills and gasoline migrated rearward as the wagon drove up the road?

    Like 3
    • Little_Cars Alexander

      Looks like the owner may have always pulled up to the gas pumps on the wrong side, time and time again. Over the years the hose and nozzle kept grazing that fender behind the filler door. Just a thought.

      Like 1
  7. Bob C.

    The fact that it’s the last year for the straight 8 flathead makes it special. My dad had a 54 Star Chief before I was born. He told me once you got it going, it flew. He loved that car, but unfortunately he wrecked it.

    Like 2
    • local_sheriff

      Agree on the I-8, IMHO that engine is the only way to go with that Pontiac. It would of course be ‘medieval’ compared to newer Pontiac V8s, but it sure fits a cruiser like this cool wagon. I’m always thrilled every time an I-8 car arrives at a car show, they produce a very unique rumble indeed

      Like 5
  8. Doug B

    It’s amazing how stupid some sellers think buyers are. 28k miles is completely ridiculous, obvious even from the photographs. I wish I had a dollar for every “low mileage” car that was stated so because that’s what the odometer says. There are an amazing number of unscrupulous people (dealers in particular) out there. Unless a seller can verify mileage with service records, I pass. If they’re misleading people on that, it’s probably the tip of the iceberg.

    Like 3
    • HoA Howard AMember

      Hey Doug, I know, so much mileage baloney comes through here, I almost expect it and a tip of the hat to the author(s) to do the job to describe it, no matter how they may really feel. Of course it doesn’t have 28K miles, bogus mileage goes back to the 1st used cars with odometers. I knew a salesman once, that could sell air conditioners to the Eskimoes, so, for some, it’s worth a shot, they figure. Someone, not familiar with old cars, but wants one, may not be trained to see what 28K looks like,( BF’s inspections would be great for those folks) they may be blinded by “it’s just like grandpa’s”, and may foolishly go for it. Seems what the classic car hobby has become, how badly someone can bamboozle good, honest people for large sums of money.

      Like 5
  9. Solosolo UK ken tillyMember

    Are those long, narrow batteries still available in US? Many years ago I had a 1951 Star Chief I think it was, but sold it because those batteries were no longer available in Southern Rhodesia in 1958

    Like 1
    • HoA Howard AMember

      Yes, those long 6 volts are sold at tractor or farm supply stores still.

      Like 4
      • norman

        NAPA carries them as well, about $175

        Like 0
    • Tony Fields

      Yes they are six volt tractor batteries Tractor supply store has them and you can get them from NAPA.

      Like 0
  10. Robert L Roberge

    My aunt and uncle had a ’54 Star Chief that, because of the fire in the Hydromatic plant in August 1953, came with a DynaFlow tranny. The seller doesn’t state what tranny this one has.

    Like 1
    • James Starks

      The post said it had a dual-range Hydramatic.

      Like 1
  11. TortMember

    Nice car to restore back to original condition. As far as miles go the odometer was probably turned back which was a common practice. Seats are rough but could that be from wear or being baked in the southwest sun for all these years? If the roof rack came with the car I would tell the owner he could keep it if he wanted.

    Like 1
  12. rod444

    The ol’ brake pedal inspection on this one (blown up and enhanced courtesy of everything I learned from CSI Miami) would indicate very little wear. High mileage usually shows up as wear in the bottom right corner from heel and toe driving, but this one looks like it has very even wear.

    That’s about as ‘sciencey’ as can be determined from my telescope 2000 miles away :)

    Like 3
    • Doug B

      Substantiating original mileage based on pedal wear is no bueno. That’s one of the first thing most novices look at. It could have easily been replaced in the 70’s, eighties etc. or picked up at a junkyard or off of eBay. Again the only way to substantiate provenance on a car is to be an expert and have records to back it up. Just ask Craig Jackson (Barrett-Jackson)

      Like 1
      • rod444

        Ya musta missed the ‘from my telescope 2000 miles away’ part there, Doug-O :)

        Like 0
    • Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

      Ha! Nice work, doctor! I love it.

      Like 1
  13. GrahamR

    “Roof rack not included” OK, then why not spend 10 minutes to just remove it before taking photos? The gaps on the rear passenger door seem to be inconsistent….is that significant or just a ‘sign of the times’ with build quality?

    Like 2
  14. IkeyHeyman

    A guy down the road from me has 2 of these in his yard.

    Like 5
    • Doug B

      lemme guess. 12k original miles?

      Like 0
  15. Calipag

    If that’s worth $9500, I need to increase my coverage on my 54 Ford!

    Like 7
  16. canadainmarkseh

    Milage isn’t reall going to matter it’s still going to need a bunch of work. Nice enough old car I like it but not at $9500.00 more like $4000.00 on a good day. The straight 8 is cool but I wonder if it’s a full pressure oiling system like all the Chrysler cars of that era. If this were a 2 door it would be less practical but more valuable, just the way it goes I guess. Nice find.

    Like 0
    • HoA Howard AMember

      I agree, mileage shouldn’t be a concern here, it’s that neat of a car. It should really sell itself.

      Like 0
  17. PatrickM

    I would have to see documentation to support the mileage claim. Yet, that being said, I believe the asking price is too high. There are no underside pics, either. This is a really cool looking car, though. Dad had a ’48 sedan and then a ’47 wagon. I learned to drive in the wagon. Slow at the start. But, once up t speed she would run all day. And the ride was smooth, too. I really like these old Pontiac wagons. Wish I had the space, time, money…. You know the story. Thanks for this one.

    Like 1
  18. Kenneth Carney

    Hey calipag, love your wagon! Very nice
    indeed. Is it an 8 or a 6? Haven’t seen one of these since the late ’60’s. Sad to
    say, but the rust monster got most of
    them. Had a ’53 2-door sedan and loved
    it. I rebuilt the flathead myself using Rod
    and Custom Magazine as a guide. When
    my kid sister blew the flattie, I dropped in
    a 289 V-8 backed by a C-6 tranny. Man
    what a sleeper! Just wish I had the cash
    to buy your wagon. Just right for cruisin’
    here in Sunny Florida!

    Like 1
    • Calipag

      Kenneth- Thank you!
      I bought it from a family friend, his Dad was the second owner with a documented 75,000+ miles on it. It is a “survivor” at least that’s what I call it. It’s had one respray on the exterior and I had the wheels painted the same as the body; it’s the original color glacier blue.
      It’s still has the original Y block 239 with the OD transmission.
      I got very lucky with this buy. It still had the instructions on how to use the in dash clock tied to the wiring tucked up under the dash!
      Here is a pic prior to cleaning!

      Like 1
  19. Joe Haska

    Smoke and Mirrors, who cares what the milage is, your buying the car for the condition, its in now. Also, thank goodness the roof rack is not included, I don’t know what could possibly be worse looking, on the top of the car. The 9 to 10K, I really don’t know ,that’s between the buyer and seller. I think it could be a nice car and wouldn’t break the bank, but owner says “breaks’, need work, so who knows.

    Like 0
  20. Doug B

    Howard I pretty much agree with everything you’ve said. My comments on misleading people on mileage is not specifically directed at this car. On this particular car, yes if you like it, buy it. Whether it has 28k or 528k miles. My point is low (especially super low) mileage cars are worth significantly more than average or high mileage cars. And people that misrepresent low mileage cars are basically dishonest. just saying.

    Like 0
  21. Trevor

    Where does a person find parts for this car?

    Like 0

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