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Better Than A Tri-Five? 1957 Pontiac Chieftain


Now this is a car I’d love to have! I know folks love the tri-five Chevrolets, but I have found the other offerings from “the General” during those years more attractive, and this great looking Pontiac Chieftain is no exception. It’s in dry Desert Hot Springs, California and is listed for sale here on eBay with an opening bid of $5,000 and no reserve!


Just look at those styling features — I love the side streaks, and this car wears its age very well. The red wheels are growing on me, but I think narrower whitewalls and original wheel covers would work better, or maybe even small center caps on body-colored wheels? I like what I like, and I really like this car!


The date correct California original plates (I hope) mean it’s been there the whole time, which accounts for the generally solid appearance of the car. Yes, there is some corrosion present, but a lot less than you’d see on most cars of this age. The seller has created a large photobook here of close up pictures showing a solid underside. There’s also a new gas tank and some new exhaust components as well. Since the car runs and drives well, there’s no reason not to take it home, right? Well, the seller does mention that it’s 120 degrees F at their house and recommends either towing it or waiting until winter as there’s no air conditioning!


The front seat has been recovered at some point in the past, but it’s not in great shape. The rear has enough damage that I’d look at an upholstery kit to go with the new carpet kit the seller has already fitted. Love that dash!


Here’s the 347 cubic inch V8 engine. It looks like someone has already converted it to an alternator and I like the fact that the seller went with an expensive battery; this leads me to believe they didn’t cut corners when they were making it roadworthy again. Nice to see a clean new air filter too. All in all, I think this would make a great car to add to a collection, or even build one around! Or heck, do what I’d do and just drive the heck out of it!


  1. Pete

    I always loved Pontiacs and this one is no expection. I bet if I went to a car show with the Chieftain. I be the only there with one.

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  2. Chuck Black

    That’s a 57 not 55 … 55 has different chrome for 2 tone

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    • JW454

      You are correct. This is a 57. The ’57 had a better looking dash than the 55~56 too as this one has. Between the three I like the 57 the best. EBAY ad has it correct.

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  3. Martin

    You are definitely correct, the B.O.P. (Buick, Olds, and Pontiac) are far more interesting and attractive than the mundane tri-five Chev’s–and lets not forget the Cadillac’s of the era. They were dripping with chrome and classy styling, whereas the Chevy was a stripped down cheap imitation–go figure, the herd is attracted to the mundane. A Safari wagon is tops for GM during this time period, in my opinion.

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  4. Palm Springs Rich

    Hi all…

    This is my first comment but I’ve been a fan of BF for quite a while. Anyway I’ve lived out here in the heat my whole life & I can tell you that batteries only last, on average, 2 years (3 max.)

    If you buy the cheapest one you’ll be replacing it every summer! So I’m unsure if if that’s an indication of past care…

    That said there’s quite a few great survivors sitting on empty lots & in garages out here. This is where grandma/grandpa retired to. Eventually the “kids” wind up selling them and summer is when you get the best deals!


    PS: I’m still waiting for that 12,000 mile 240z to show up…

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  5. Djrowdy

    Better? Depends on what the individual likes. Some like the Chevy. Some like this. But the average Joe should because this car is a nice one that he could afford and maintain at a good price! Stupid rich people price gouging the prices of just about now called collector car!

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  6. Howard A Member

    I agree on the ’57. The Chevy got all the thunder, but the ’57 Pontiac ( and Olds) were such nice cars. ( Buick, too big) While 5g’s is still a lot of money to me, this seems like a great deal. Kind of the last of the smaller GM cars, when in ’58 everything changed. Great find.

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  7. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Fixed the date,folks–thank you!

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  8. Mike

    I had a 56 Chieftain for a while, I was one that Dad bought to restore and never got around to it. I did a frame off resto, did extensive metal replacement on it, it took me nearly 5 years and had it for about 6 years after it got back on the road. Loved the smooth ride it had, and it took a couple of first place at local car shows.
    Had it at a Car Show in Cape Girardeau during a county fair, some moron was not looking and talking on a cell phone backed into it with his trailer hit it just in front on the driver side rear tire. After he did a sad story, trying to keep me from calling the cops, and I calmed down plus the other member of my car show party, he kept saying he would pay for the damage if I did not turn it into his insurance. Well I turned it in anyway, and his insurance wanted to total the car because of it age, I fought for 6 months and finally got a settlement. I repaired the car, and was getting ready to repaint when I was offer a good price for it and sold it to a friend. He still has the car and every time we do a Car Show he sets it next to mine, so I can still enjoy it.

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  9. Fred W.

    Sad story Mike. Glad you didn’t fall for the ” don’t call the insurance co.” line- chances are you would have never gotten a dime. I was rear ended by a texting driver and got the same line. Turned it in to HER company, not mine, so HER rates went up, not mine.

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  10. Dave Wright

    These are far better in most every way than a chev. My first car was a 57 Chevy the second was a 55 Pontiac star chief Catalina, 2 door HT. It was a higher quality car than the Chieftan. Longer wheel base and had great options available. When you compare nuts and bolts, look at the Powerglide vs the Hydromatic, the engine was the base for the later 389, the fit and finish were far better on the Pontiacs. Off course, the body tub was the same so things like glass, doors weatherstrip are the same. The extra 4″ in the wheelbase ov the Star Chief make a huge difference in ride. I have been looking for a good Star Chief for several years……..and will have another one.

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  11. DENIS

    I looove the 2 dr post cars and would love to have this one. I have a ’59 post, tri-power/4 spd…57 BOPs rock…

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  12. Rotag999

    Fugly as all hell !

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  13. Pontiactivist

    I love the pontiac and olds tri five’s! I see way too many Chevy’s and I like different. I’ve been looking for a 55 or 56 post car to do a gasser. Nothing perfect. Leave the good ones to the resto guys and people who can afford them. Lol. I love this car but it’s too nice for what I would enjoy.and I would feel guilty for making it mine.

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  14. DrinkinGasoline

    Being as how Chevrolet was largely the least expensive GM offering in the divisional line-up, there are far more of them floating around.
    I have to agree that the BOP’s were much nicer cars with much nicer styling during the GM Tri-Five era. I’ve never been much of a fan of the 56-57 Chevys but, my Uncle had a beautiful condition, un-restored 57, two-tone aqua and white 4 door sedan that was fun to drive. I tend to lean towards the higher end models regardless of manufacturer or year not because I’m a snob, its that they just seem comfortable. I have a 90 Cadillac Brougham with close to 40,000 original miles that I look forward to driving on weekends.
    I love the feeling of floating down the road, like I’m in my living room. :)

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  15. Rob K.

    Pop had a ’56 Buick 2 door hdtp. back in 1960…….Had it until he bought an excellent, low mileage ’63 Impala 2 door hdtp. in March of 1965. He loved both of those, naturally. Funny that the 1 cool car he had in the old days, one he would love to find another now is: a ’50 Olds 88 club sedan! (fastback) Ha!

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