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Partially Finished: 1952 Pontiac Chieftain Deluxe


This 1952 Pontiac appears to be a partially completed project that’s been in that state for a long time. Someone spent a lot of money at one point, that’s for sure–I wonder why they stopped? It’s located in Bridgewater, New York and is for sale here on eBay, where bidding is less than $1,000 at this point but there is a reserve.


I was struck by how long and lean the car looks in this picture, almost as if it’s been stretched like the exaggerated proportions that were common in 1950’s car ads. The styling features like the two-tailed side streak and the dip in the chrome just at the end of the rear side window really catch my eyes.


The story of this car is all second-hand; the current seller purchased the car at an estate sale. The story goes that the car was purchased in the mid 1970’s and driven for a few years, but then it was parked until about ten years ago. At that point the previous owner stared the restoration process which included a fresh paint job. You can see the fuel filler door and some of what I think is door trim in the photo above ready to be re-installed. The seller also notes that the rocker panels look like they have been replaced.


Here’s a picture that perplexes me a little. It looks like the fuel tank has been refurbished; it’s certainly at least been separated from its mounting straps, but yet the spring hasn’t been touched and shows overspray. The rear end doesn’t look like anything’s been done to it, either.


On the other hand, looking inside the car we can see that the former owner ran an upholstery shop, and it looks like you might have most everything you need to put the interior back together including a headliner, although very little has been installed. What we don’t know is how the components have been stored and cared for, and also were the replacement components created to original specifications. You can also count on at least something being lost in the shuffle through owners.


The inline 8 looks ready to go, doesn’t it? In fact it is, the seller tells us there’s a new fuel pump and carburetor, and it fired right up when they put some fresh gas in. The seller has only driven it about 10 feet, though! I’d like to drive it more than that, but I’d want to go over the car very carefully first before reassembly. Is this a project you’d like to take on?


  1. Avatar photo Jason Houston

    The 1949-56 Pontiacs are among my Top Three favorite cars. I would love to buy this in its unique Catalina-only colors and finish it, but it’s just too far away.

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  2. Avatar photo RON

    I agree Jason. The only thing nicer were the 50 Holiday 88 Hardtop coupes. The Catalina’s had so much chrome but I liked the more flashier two tone colors over this shade green. all 3 GM versions are hard to find but the Pontiac and Olds are Premium Loved the big round jukebox speaker grille

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    • Avatar photo Jason Houston

      Yeh, I like the 49-50 Olds HTs also. Took me a while to warm up to this bizarre shade of green, but I guess it just won me over bc I Iike the cars so much. A ’53 Catalina would suit me just fine, too. The first time I saw that dash grille I thought it was some customizer’s idea of a ’49 Ford grill ball frenched into the Pontiac panel.

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  3. Avatar photo Charles

    My parents had a car similar to this when I was a toddler. It was butterscotch with a white roof. I like the looks of this Pontiac. It appears to be mostly solid. It will make someone a nice car.

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  4. Avatar photo Dave Wright

    One of the many cars I mourn selling was a 53 Pontiac convertable. It was a rose red and white two tone, leather interior……one piece curved windshield, magnificent car. I also miss my 55 Catalina Star Chief 2 door hardtop. I would have another one but they have been discovered by the market.

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    • Avatar photo Jason Houston

      Sorry, but as a convicted 1953 Pontiac addict, I can assure you there was no “rose” color, nor did any convertible come in two-tone body colors. I don’t know what your car really looked like, but I’d surely buy it anyway.

      Years ago I was offered a black ’53 conv. for hauling it out of an abandoned wrecking yard where it sat since the late 50’s. But it had been hit hard on the front, it had an automatic, it was repainted over Linden Green, and there was no title or VIN plate so in view of the great distance, I passed.

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  5. Avatar photo Jim

    It looks like an easy project, it’s in pretty good shape, cared for, not stored in a mud big. Go easy assuming parts will be missing, their are lots of(not all) that are very careful keeping track and storing parts. My last two projects I bought and the owner said “I think everything is in those boxes or bags or in the trunk” LOL. I assumed stuff would be missing hut wound up with all needed parts plus extras, my Torino from Huntsville, Alabama the owner finished cleaning the garage where it had been and UPS’ a box of extras, filters, manuals, wiper arms ect two weeks after I received the car. That’s why I try to help other car guys when I can, most if us are decent guys just trying to have some enjoyment with our passion, life sucks some days if we don’t help each other who will. I know I got off track LOL. Carry on

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  6. Avatar photo Mike

    My Dad owns a 51, and it is one that took us about 5 years to do a full frame off resto. It is hard to believe that has been nearly 15 years ago. It is one of his favorites, he says because all of us kids had something to do with the resto. He still drives it a lot when he feels like getting out, he has had a bad winter this year with his health, I think all the years of breathing paint fumes has caught up with my 79 year old Dad, he is suffering from COPD, and this last snap of cold weather here in Missouri is taking its toil on Dad. But anyway if I get a chance this weekend I will go over and take a picture of it and post it.

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  7. Avatar photo S.Brodie

    This is GM’s first years of the 2 door hardtops that set the standard for collectible and genuinely desirable cars for years after, and count the spark plug wires,. this is an 8 cylinder car. Pontiac was always the upscale GM line between their economy Chevrolet and the Oldsmobile Buick lines. As often happened though the individual divisions of GM forgot their place and moved forward into the next level up. Pontiac had a habit of doing this and I’m referring to the GTO option on their LeMans series. This car with it’s overall length matches the lower end Olds models. I like the stainless trim on Pontiacs, the Indian head, and yes the big round speaker. I’d probably put a 389 and a THD 350 to repower as the 102HP original is just a little short of modern day power. Add some nice wheels and enjoy.

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  8. Avatar photo Robert White

    Great car and worth the money it’s up to so far on ebay at $4k, but the reserve has not been met yet.

    I’d buy it in a heartbeat if I had the money.

    wish me luck on the lottery, eh.


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