Chiefly Project: 1953 Pontiac Chieftan

Clean, stylish, and affordable 50’s coupes are always difficult to turn away, and that is certainly an issue with this ’53 Chieftan.  With heavily worn paint, but very complete and solid, this coupe would make for a great father/son project. With only a couple of days remaining in the auction this Pontiac has been bid up to $560.00. Take a look at it here on eBay out of Bailey, Colorado. Thanks are in order to Ikey Heyman for this solid and stylish find!

The first impression of the interior is quite good in my opinion. The dash is in phenomenal condition, making me think there is some promise for the interior trim, as well as the door panels. The steering wheel has succumbed to cracking, but the center horn button is perfectly clear with no hazing or cracking. I assume that the seats have been stripped, as there are a few bare seat frames in the pictures. The seller did mention that an NOS seat kit is included with the car.  Under the hood the original flat head inline six rests, but its condition is unknown other than the fact that it is “not currently running”. Perhaps the seller can elaborate further with a question or two?

With a heavily weathered appearance, you will notice that there are obvious signs of surface rust, but little to nothing in regards to rot. I do see what could be some potential rot around the rear wheel arch, but it is unclear in the photos. The rockers and quarters look nice, and the metal around the mid body trim shows surface rust, but again no rot. Most if not all of the trim appears in place, and the condition of the bright work is very reasonable with no evidence of any major damage or pitting. The only loose end with this car is that the seller mentions that the floors pans have been cut, but in the photos there is no evidence of any missing floor sections. So I am wondering if the floors have been replaced or simply cut out of the car with something obscuring the  floors in the photos. Although on a good note the seller also mentions that the rear floors, and the trunk are rock solid. With many lovely Art Deco features, this Chieftan is a looker that certainly needs to be out roaming the roads once again. Would you take on this Chieftan project?

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  1. stillrunners

    Neat-o rare two door in this trim….cool survivor.

  2. RoughDIamond

    There are some solid vehicles that come out of CO. I love the waterfall hood and trunk lid chrome and of course that Chief’s head. That water temp gauge sure was informative back in the day being either “COLD” or “HOT” or somewhere in between. Hard to believe that original radio is intact and the dash uncut. Looks like a great potential buy with the NOS seat kit and even needing front floor pans.

  3. Wayne

    Not a coupe. It’s a 2 door sedan.

  4. Fred H

    The interior is shot and it does not run . Two expensive items / Plus paint if you want . Another not worth the cost to restore car.

    • Will Fox

      Seller states an NOS seat kit comes with the car; there’s half the battle right there. For a `53 anything, this is solid. I’ve seen one hell of alot worse. Mind you it’s a 6, but it would make a great cruiser you could drive. I like it.

    • canadainmarkseh Member

      Who said every car has to be restored for profit. Who said it needs to be concours BJ qualifying. I think single stage gloss paint, repair as required restore the interior if you do the stuff yourself and are a good scrounger. You have this rolling for about $5k.

  5. ken TILLY

    I love it! A true ’50’s piece of Americana. I wish it were mine as I had a 1951 Star Chief I think it was, so this brings back lots of good memories from the sixties.

  6. Alexander

    What exactly is a new-old-stock seat kit? Would Pontiac dealers stock these on the shelves in the parts department? I think the seller means NOS “seal” kit. Weatherstripping or engine. It would be highly suspect to have a Pontiac-branded upholstery kit for this car.

  7. Robert L Roberge

    Be very careful. A disastrous fire on Aug. 12, 1953, destroyed the hydramatic factory in Livonia, MI. All Pontiacs manufactured after that time (until the plant was rebuilt) came equipped with Dynaflow trannys. Aunt and Uncle had one; looked like a million but couldn’t get out of it’s own way off the line.

  8. Gary

    Nice find. I agree 100% that this would be a great father/son project or even a great project for a beginner to cut their teeth on. Start with the labor intensive but inexpensive stuff first and do all the labor yourself. You could save all the expensive stuff like the interior for later. If you do all the body work and paint it yourself you won’t be out much money if it doesn’t turn out well. And you could probably still sell if for some fraction of what you invested.

  9. Bill vidal

    The coupe came with 8 cylinders in line ,air wipers ,antenna, a clock in the dash speaker ,I had one and it was stolen, after I did some work to it ,I was heart broken, cause not many of this coupes left ,one owner car .

  10. Robert Sabatini

    Great to see more Pontiac Barn Finds!!

  11. Tort Member

    Fairly rare these days and would make a nice project to have a unique ride. A person could restore it with original motor and stock suspension, etc or update it with donated front clip, 389 or 421 under the hood, some nice wheels and paint and it would a real headturner.

  12. Bob C.

    So many different things you can do with this. What to do, get the old flathead running and keep original or modernize with a SBC and a TH350?

  13. Poncho pusher

    You should NEVER put a chevy engine in a poncho… sacrilege…..a traditional D port poncho will fit with very lil massaging…..and its been said that in 53 pontiac was suppose to release its ohv v8 but buick an chevy threw a fit cause they wasnt releasing there v8s till 55 so……idk if thats true or rumor but might be pretty simple to shove a poncho in da ole cheif…..and i believe in 53 all you could get was the straight 8 flat head….might be wrong…..correct me if so….i know both my 50s have 8s one auto one three on da tree….although my sons 47 still has the flatty 6……there awesome cars tons of fun to drive

    • Doug

      Excuse me, Poncho Pusher, but GM put Chevy engines in Pontiacs for years. I had a co-worker in 1965 with a “62 Pontiac Grand Prix that came from the factory with a 425 HP 409 & 4 speed. The Pontiac Trans -Am raced in the Trans -Am series with the Chevy Z-28 302, because Pontiacs built in Canada had Chevrolet engines at that period in time.
      I had a ’55 GMC pickup, which used the Pontiac 287ci V8 rather than the 265ci Chevy. It had the same style rocker arms as the Chevy, but the studs were larger in diameter, and the rockers and 1/2 balls were larger as well.
      I also had a ’51 Pontiac with the straight 8 & stick shift, and later a ’52 with the 4 speed automatic. The ’51 got me 22 mpg on El Cheapo regular, the ’52 didn’t do so well – it also developed a nasty habit of downshifting to 3rd on the freeway at odd times, so I sold it to a guy who just needed something to drive a couple of miles a day to work & back.

    • Robert Sabatini

      Yeah….Chevy did “borrow” a few designs from Pontiac over the years – to say the least! When Pontiac was advised to stop manufacturing 400 cubic inch engines in 1978, it was all over for the Tin Indians…

    • Bob C.

      Poncho Pusher, you are right about the stalling of the pontiac v8 in 53.They were already prepared for them that year according to how the engine bay was set up. It wasn’t chevrolet who raised a stink, but buick and oldsmobile. And yes, being the low guys on the totem pole, they did some sharing.

  14. r s

    Do I see a clear air conditioning tube running up by the corner of the back window?

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