BF Auction: 1957 Pontiac Star Chief Tri-Power

Asking: $35,500Make Offer

  • Seller: Jose E nciso
  • Location: Sunnyside, Washington
  • Mileage: 71,237 Shown
  • Chassis #: P857H22747
  • Title Status: Clean

The Tri-Five Chevy was one of, if not the most popular, car manufactured in the 1950s. It’s easy to see why; they offered great looks, and performance was brisk when optioned with a V8. As well optioned as Bel Airs were, some buyers still wanted something a little higher end. Since Pontiac was viewed as GMC’s higher-end brand, so offering a Pontiac based on the Tri-Five only made sense.  To make the car stand out, it was restyled to reflect Pontiac’s design language better, and to improve performance, the engine was enlarged and upgraded. This example is said to be a desirable Tri-Power equipped car and is part of a collection in Washington State. The seller has decided to part ways with this rare Pontiac and is offering it and their other vehicles here on Barn Finds!

The Star Chief was considerably more expensive than its Bel Air sibling, which may explain why fewer of these Pontiacs were built. Including all of the body styles, 103,212 Star Chiefs were produced for 1957. That might sound like a lot, but to put it in perspective, there were 1.5 million Tri-Fives built for ’57! Of the Star Chiefs built, around 33k were Custom Coupes, but not many were equipped with the Tri-Power V8.

Here’s a closer look at the engine. For 1957, the 347 cui V8 was the standard engine for the Star Chief, but it was offered in several performance levels with output ranging from 227 to 317 horsepower. The Tri-Powered version, which features three Rochester dual barrel carburetors, was rated at 290 horsepower and was the most powerful option for those wanting to stick with carbs. As you can tell, this car has been sitting for a while, so it’s hard to say what it will take to make it a driver again. Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy way to identify a Tri-Power car, as they didn’t put the engine options on the trim tag. Based on what can be seen in the photos, this setup looks to be from a newer Pontiac, possibly a ’65 GTO. The seller purchased the car from an old-school hot rodder, so it’s entirely possible that they wanted more power than the 347 could offer and swapped the engine. To know for sure, a closer inspection of the engine numbers is recommended.

While the car has been parked outside for a while, the interior appears to have held up well. The trim tag reveals that this car left the factory wearing Raven Black paint, Sheffield Grey inserts, and a Silver Beige Metallic and Ivory leather interior. The car was restored at some point in its life, but it’s held up reasonably well. While the original interior would look better, red and white definitely goes nicely with the Raven Black paint.

If you are a Tri-Five Chevy fan but want something more unique and powerful, this Star Chief might just be the find for you! Given what it is, we sent one of our professional photographers out to take the pictures and they made sure to grab lots of inside and underside photos, so be sure to take a closer look at the gallery below. And if you have any questions for the seller, please leave them in the comments below.

Bid On This Auction

High Bid: $6,250 (Reserve Not Met)
Make An Offer
Ended: Jul 10, 2024 10:00am MDT
High Bidder: chacaclassic
  • chacaclassic
    bid $6,250.00  2024-07-10 09:10:32
  • Donie bid $6,000.00  2024-07-05 06:48:13
  • Jack P bid $5,250.00  2024-07-04 15:28:25
  • Donie
    bid $5,000.00  2024-07-04 08:56:26

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Joe Haska

    The pictures just make me sick! It reminds me of seeing a cute little puppy chained to a tree. For crying out loud, unchain it and get it to safety.

    Like 40
    • MGM

      So sad seeing this nice relic put out to just have mother nature slowly reclaim her. Of course they all were nice at one time or another, but this one looks like it was possibly invested in a good bit, then dumped in the field and left for the weeds. What a shame. Really hope someone takes this and brings it up to par.

      Like 18
      • Dan Heiromymus

        Leave it out side and leave a vent window open. Wow.

        Like 0
    • stillrunners stillrunnersMember

      Staged pictures…..

      Like 2
  2. Poppy

    Is that a kingpin front suspension? Might not be, but I thought GM switched to ball joint in ’55(?)

    Like 3
    • Johnmloghry john loghry

      They are not kingpins or balljoints, those were called trunions.

      God Bless America

      Like 4
    • Old Beach Guy

      Corvettes had kingpins until the introduction of the 1963.

      Like 3
    • Marty Parker

      58 was the first year Pontiac used Ball Joint’s.

      Like 2
    • Dennis Stoeser

      Trunions with kingpins. 57 last year’s for this 30s system.

      Like 1
  3. Jake Thesnake

    Sad to see such a talent go to waste like this.

    Like 10
  4. Jerry Bramlett

    I’m interested, but I can’t estimate its worth until I know much more.

    Does the car roll and steer?

    Does the engine spin freely?

    What is the rust damage in the floors and trunk?

    What’s the status of the title and license registration?

    Please be more specific than saying “a while” when describing how long it’s been parked outside and not-running. Do you mean months, years, or decades?

    Are the original jacking tools and spare in the trunk?

    Like 13
    • Jerry Bramlett

      My question about title and license status isn’t clear. I want to know if the current title and license plate are in the seller’s name or that of a previous owner.

      Like 7
    • Jerry Bramlett

      I’m out.

      No response to my questions after three days means no bid from me.

      Like 0
    • Troy

      It’s in Washington so you can take the vin# to most any licence office and get a new title printed for about $100 bucks.

      Like 0
  5. Ken Shuey

    I’d like to see the car in person. Can you put me in contact with the seller?

    Like 0
  6. MGM

    So sad seeing this nice relic put out to just have mother nature slowly reclaim her. Of course they all were nice at one time or another, but this one looks like it was possibly invested in a good bit, then dumped in the field and left for the weeds. What a shame. Really hope someone takes this and brings it up to par.

    Like 1
  7. MGM

    That does look like a later Pontiac V8, maybe the GTO setup as noted. The lengthy timing cover stud shown is indicative of those as best I recall. Been a while.

    Like 3
    • Rtruck

      Looks like a chevy since fuel delivery appears to be on the passenger side along with the alternator.

      Like 2
      • Jerry Bramlett

        The engine looks like a Pontiac to me, but of much later vintage than 1957. Those carbs are not from a ’65 GTO.

        Pontiac V8 blocks used a center “chin mount” just below the balancer during the fifties rather than side mounts like later blocks. They also used two bellhousing side mounts rather than a transmission rear mount in ’55 – ’58 cars.

        Of course, a good photo from underneath would show how this later engine was installed in a ’57 chassis. Without seeing that, I just dunno.

        Like 4
      • Don

        It is a Pontiac motor, If you don’t know the difference between a Chevy motor and a Pontiac motor, maybe you should not be putting a comment on this site about a Pontiac.
        My 2 cents worth.

        Like 3
      • Rtruck

        Yup. Don. You’re right. Water pump is 2 pieces like my 69 ta 400. Where chevy bolts on withh pump arms. Thanks for pointing out my mistake.

        Like 0
  8. Howard A. HoAMember

    Man, I don’t know how Pontiac did it, they basically took a gawdy ’57 Chevy, that I never cared for, and turned it into one of the most beautiful Ponchos, before they went “Wide Trackin”. This was one hot stick back then, not many messed with a ’57 Poncho, after all, many knew it may just have a tri-power. This car for the 1st time showed folks what 120 mph( in 41 seconds) was like. This car did 0-60 in 7.4 seconds, and the 1/4 mile mid 15s. Needless to say, it was very popular for the go-go set. I too hope someone saves this old Chief, it’s that nice.

    Like 13
    • scottymac

      Everyone seems to forget that Ford made more of the ’57 models than Chebby. Lower, sleeker, and with the retractable hardtop, more unique; and with the Ranchero, more versatile, and with the Thunderbird, more features than the Corvette. (Yeah, roll up windows!)

      Pontiac was on the rise, no more chrome suspenders on the hood and trunk, but this was a bit before my time. Howard, correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the hot ticket in ’57 was still the 394 Olds with the J-2 tri-power?

      Like 0
      • Yblocker

        Oldsmobile didn’t get a 394 till 59.
        “Supposedly” the fastest car in 57 was a Rambler Rebel. So they say

        Like 1
  9. Eric_13cars Eric_13carsMember

    Interesting that GM used the same bodies for the Chevy, Pontiac, Olds, and Buick (and I guess Cadillac too), but the GVW was I suspect very different. Our 57 Olds 88 convertible was almost 5000 lbs. I doubt that the Chevies were equally heavy. I know that the 57 Buick was about the same weight as the Olds. Suspect same for Pontiac. Wonder what the difference was amongst them. One our board experts will know, I’m sure.

    Like 1
    • Edward Pate

      The Chevy and Pontiac shared the same body. The Buick, Oldsmobile and Cadillac shared the larger GM body

      Like 0
  10. T. MannMember

    The exhaust pipe has been home to mice for years.
    So they also live in the seats?

    This is a newer engine, Based on the alternator seen in the photos.

    Did anyone answer the title questions above?

    Like 2
  11. Robert Fouche

    I don’t see the outside door handles. Maybe I’m blind. The driver’s side vent window is open I would assume too allow access to the inside door handle. It’s on a regulator so unless it’s broken my guess is it’s been left open. Someone please tell me I’m wrong.

    Like 2
    • bobhess bobhessMember

      Door handles, hood, and trunk lid have all been shaved. Doors probably can’t be opened with no battery to use electric latches. Possible pull cable inside for the hood and the trunk lid still has the key latch.

      Like 3
  12. John Brenneke

    It’s a star Chief, but it has a Chieftain rear bumper.

    Like 2
    • john atanasio

      I am not too sure but it is also missing all the emblems that should be on the hood and trunk and I said not too sure about that.

      Like 1
  13. Fritz

    are chip and dale renting the tailpipes?
    dig the spider webs on the headlamps. chicks dig the look.
    have the bodies been removed from the trunk?
    chrome alone would require a hedge fund.
    wouja have Diana Dors sleep in the backyard and not at least give her a tent?
    Man! the noive!!

    Like 2
  14. Shuttle Guy Shuttle GuyMember

    Very Sad To See!

    Like 5
  15. CarbobMember

    I’m among those who hope that this old Chief is purchased by someone who will get it back up to snuff. The elements are ramping up their toll and an intervention is quickly needed. Mold is getting a foothold inside, rust is growing on the underside and as others pointed out; the rodents are establishing their claim to Hotel Pontiac. What a shame that it’s been abandoned in such a manner. The previous owner who made the “hotrod” modifications must have done it quite a few years ago That’s my guess. Maybe the sixties. Bet the old Chief can really make with a war cry when those cutouts are opened. GLWTS.

    Like 1
  16. Rick

    That’s definitely a Pontiac powerplant ’cause the spark plugs are above the exhaust manifolds. On a Chevrolet small block they were underneath.

    Like 2
  17. Ron

    The seller should have made the decision to part with this car years ago, would likely have brought a better price and been a nicer car for the new owner.

    Like 1
  18. Blu

    My Dad bought a new 57 Pontiac in fall of 56. I came home from hospital in it. He always would tell me how fast it was. He wasn’t really a car guy but would always say that car flew. It was two tone pink and black. He traded it in on a Rambler in 59. Looking at the photos of the dash makes me think of him driving his and how proud he must have been of it.

    Like 4
    • Mike S

      Nice story! My folks bought a 57 Star Chief 4 door hardtop in 64. It was Charcoal with Silver Beige side spear and roof. Man I loved that car, it was one of the prettiest cars I’ve ever seen. They put it on the side of the road in 69 and sold it for $75. I was only 7 and had no say, but I was devastated. Tried years later to track it down but no luck. Hope this one finds a good home.

      Like 1
      • Blu

        Thats what my dads was a four-door hardtop. They had many photos of it. It looked like this one with four doors.

        Like 0
  19. Bunky

    One small note of encouragement: Sunnyside is in Central Washington, east of the Cascade Mountains which cause a rain shadow. Therefore, as long as this car has been in its current locale, it’s not been marinating in acid rain like cars in the Seattle area.
    I live about 35 miles from this car. I could be available to check it out.
    Very cool car. Someone please save it!

    Like 2
  20. joe

    i would not bid on this untill i got to look at under side because it has rusted floors for sitting in grass

    Like 1
  21. Yblocker

    One thing missing is the factory radio speaker, which was mounted on the hump under the dash. Nice car, definitely needs to be saved

    Like 1

    I’m not sure, but I think these were four coil cars, unlike the tri-five Chevys. They sure rode better! Again, what would it take to drag it out of the field, wash and vacuum to make it presentable?

    Like 1
  23. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac DivaMember

    One question……..

    Why do most GM tri powers end up sitting in a field somewhere if they were such fabulous cars? Gas prices? Gas didn’t really get ridiculous until the 70s, which now that I think about it is probably when this car was retired. I’ve noticed back then cars were retired around 11 to 13 years old.

    Like 2
    • Howard A. HoAMember

      Perhaps I can “field” that one. I don’t think at the time these were “fantastic” cars, say on par with a Caddy, that was a fantastic car, and the tri-power was the cheese, that usually went missing once the car was shot. To be clear, the tri-power was rare in the 50s. I read ’57 was the 1st year for tri-power, a measly $90 option, yet most still went with a single 4 barrel.

      Like 1
  24. Kenn

    What a beautiful vehicle! Hope someone gets it back on the road where it belongs.

    Like 1
  25. Al Dee

    My very first car was a ’57 Pontiac Cheiftain, and as a normal teenage boy, I became very familiar with every aspect of the model. This ’57 Star Chief is the unfortunate product of someone’s excessive drive to customize it. Except for the stars on the sides (why did they leave those) every other adornment is gone – including the door handles (???? – crazy), which did not do any favors for the looks of the car. — The engine I highly suspect is another part of the person’s need to make this former beauty what it never was. — The person was so inept in doing the remod, he didn’t even know the back bumper has removable inserts to port the exhaust through it (my ’57 Chieftain even came with the exhaust ported through the bumper from the factory) and so he has the duel exhaust sticking out under the bumper, which (as we used to say back then) looks so “shade tree dumb, it hurts to look at it”. This once gorgeous Star Chief has a long long way to go to get back to its former glory – and that’s only if you can still find the body adornments still available. Sad — so very very sad…..

    Like 1
  26. Bob

    Very sad to see! In 2021 this vehicle was beautiful! Fired right up. I have a walk around video of this car in its prime. Same man owned this car for 50 years. He is rolling over in his grave.

    Like 1
  27. ruxvette

    I’m surprised the writeup didn’t hit more on the late 50’s – early 60’s custom car theme. As has been stated the door handles were shaved, it was nosed and decked, and reupholstered in perfect Tijuana style. The engine was replaced, perhaps built up, with tri-power added. Lakes pipes, without headers, give it a nice Saturday night cruise sound and what appear to be heated coils and, perhaps, lowering blocks give it a nice stance. Some chrome trim was ‘blacked out’ before it was even a thing.
    It would be a very cool cruiser today.

    Like 2
  28. Jimmy Meeker

    The auction copy was written as if there was no correspondence with the seller at all. Does it run? Rust damage? How long outside? Basic stuff that should be in the listing. This is no better than a CL of FB ad.

    Like 1
    • Joshua MortensenStaff

      So the seller relocated from where the car is currently located, so they aren’t able to try starting it. Most of what they know about the car’s mechanical condition is from prior to parking it. Obvioulsy, it ran then, but that isn’t terribly relevant given that it’s been left outside. The photos they provided were also outdated, so we sent one of our professional photographers over to take the photos seen in the ad at our own expense. We wouldn’t normally run something without more information, but we hate to see this one continue to deteriorate so we ran it in hopes that it can find a new home.

      I just emailed Jose to encourage him to get on and respond to questions, so hopefully, he will do so shortly!

      Like 1
  29. Troy

    Looks like a nice car to get back on the road for someone, personally I’m more interested in the beetle sitting in front of it in some of the pictures

    Like 1
    • Joshua MortensenStaff

      The Beetle will also be listed, we had our photographer take photos of it and several of the seller’s other vehicles while they were there. Stay tuned!

      Like 1
  30. bone

    Pontiac was part of GM, not GMC , which is GMs truck line – Pontiac was a higher line than Chevrolet, it wasn’t just “seen” as a higher line, and Pontiac didnt decide to have their own “tri 5” , Pontiac and Chevrolet shared the same platforms for years , and both divisions would have had their designs thought out several years before production And a 57 is not known as a tri 5 anyway – its the 55-57 models .

    Like 1
  31. Jerry Bramlett

    Uh… okay.

    Asking $35,500 obo, and the owner still hasn’t said if the engine and brakes are locked up.

    I have no words. Actually I do, but they would just get this post removed.

    Like 2

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