Diamond In The Rough: 1957 Pontiac Star Chief

Long past are the days of cruising in the sun, with the top down, for this 1957 Pontiac Star Chief. After spending an undetermined amount of time in Virginia, this Pontiac was purchased in 2009 and taken to New Jersey. With a quick glance this Pontiac appears solid, and hopeful as a project, but this Pontiac is rough. Described as an “ambitious project” this poor old Star Chief is in need of a miracle. Packing a 347 V8 with 3 “Deuces”, there may still be some useful items on this old Pontiac. With 6 days remaining, this Star Chief has been bid up to $1,525. Find it here on eBay out of Riverton, New Jersey.

Barren and dirty, this engine bay has little other than the engine and radiator. The 347 cubic inch V8 sports a 3×2 carb set up, but little else. In unknown condition, this V8 may be an iron lump at this point. The interior of the water inlet to the engine looks crusty. The engine bay itself is in fair shape with little evidence of rust, or missing paint. Up to this point this Star Chief still looks relatively solid, and hopeful.

Upon moving to the interior you will begin to see where all of the trouble resides in this old Pontiac. The convertible top looks to have been missing for quite a while now. The interior is still present, although it has not survived very well. Little of the interior would be of use to anyone, other than if you needed a seat frame, or some other generic clips and screws. The dash board is likely the best out of everything, wearing most of its trim, and gauges. You will begin to see where the real trouble starts when looking at the interior floors. Cringe worthy, and devastating, little of the interior floors have survived. Perhaps the most shocking is the driver side rocker completely rusted in two. There is plenty of rust in the floors, and this “Ambitious Project” seems more like a sinking ship with a Dixie cup to bail out the water. The lower portion of the doors are rusted, and the driver side rocker area in the quarter is rough. The passenger side appears to be a little better off, with a more solid quarter, but there is little else of the main body that is useful. Perhaps the hood, front fenders, trim/grill, and trunk lid are in fair enough shape to use.

A sad sight for a cool car. We always wish that cars like this Pontiac could be saved, but we also wish that they were in better condition. Likely destined for parts, we can always dream that the right ambitious person will take on this sad old Pontiac. What would you do with this 1957 Pontiac Star Chief?



  1. healeydays

    To do this car justice will cost someone a few duckets. Maybe if you want one, and don’t want to spend the next 5+ years doing the restoration, maybe start with a better car? Hemmings has a 56 for sale at $36K. Doing a restoration on this car would go well north of that.

  2. redwagon

    i would be afraid to drive that one in a parade. if you hit a clown it might crumple.

    i can see why someone wanted to restore it in 2009 the lines are great and it is not a tri-five chevy but alas it is too far gone.

  3. Tommy

    It’s funny, I looked at this picture of this old Chief and thought it looks like a car I would see in New Jersey where I live, then when I read it, well you guessed it where is it, NJ. !

  4. DrinkinGasoline

    Export it to Cuba. They’ll have it up and running in no time at all.
    It may end up with lawn chair seats and a Toyota engine but….
    It’ll be loved.

  5. Glen

    The frame doesn’t actually look that bad, and I’m assuming that is a desirable engine option. Add in a convertible top and this is a nicely optioned vehicle. I hope someone can save this from the crusher.

  6. Ben T. Spanner

    Wasn’t the 347 also used in GMC trucks? Didn’t the block evolve into the 389? Transmission would be a 4 speed Hydromatic. Many Chevrolet patch panels could be used, but you couldn’t afford to have it done. Break out the welder.

    Is a 1957 Chevrolet in comparable condition 2 or 3 or more times as valuable? The second car I ever owned was a 57 Chevrolet convertible in rough shape. Now, I’d rather have one of these.

    • Vince Habel


      It started as a 287 and ended as a 455.

  7. Gear Head Engineer

    Yes, it’s rough. But it’s not beyond repair. I’ve seen multiple tri-five Chevies in similar condition brought back to life. If it stays in the right price range this could be worth fixing. Maybe not a 100 point, stock restoration. But it could be a nice shiny driver. I found new body and floor panels available with a quick Google search. I am finding myself strongly tempted by this one. I’d better move on before I place a bid..

    – John

    • healeydays

      The difference when talking tri-fives there is a demand for even carcasses. Sadly, these never had as big of a following. Personally I like the look better than the 57 Chevy (I know that’s blasphemy)

  8. packrat

    This is doable at under 2k, the difference between the pricetag on this and a restored one being quite a chasm. If I bought it, my heirs and assigns would be dealing with it years from now in exactly the same condition as you see here. It calls for a same-year, sun-baked hulk trucked in from Arizona, and someone with an unreasonable gleam in his eye (like Ian Fleming’s Commander Caractacus Potts character) to disappear with them into his garage for the winter with torch and die grinders in hand. Don’t look for him until the late spring. hashtag no job, hashtag the only thing i did this winter.

  9. JW454

    The frame center section, windshield frame, and convertible parts will likely be salvaged to build a ’57 Chevrolet convertible from a two door hard top. I’ve seen it done two other times with Pontiacs that were in the same condition as this one.
    Chevy, Pontiac, I like them both but, the money may be in the Chevy.
    I’d like to see it restored if possible.

  10. redwagon

    @packrat i like the way you think.

    considering that rockers are gone and mostly gone and it is a convertible i am amazed that the doors open and close without striking the jambs.

    just to give you an idea this is what it once looked like … a far cry now

    spending a bit of time w the vin and data plate ……

    style # 57-2867 DTX
    57 = 1957 (duh)
    2867 DTX = Star Chief convertible coupe (12,789 produced)
    8 in 28 above indicates it is on the longer 124″ wheelbase

    trim # 228-1
    228 = red and pale grey imitation leather interior
    no idea what the “-1” means

    paint # AAK
    A = raven black upper body
    A = raven black lower body
    K = sheffield grey insert
    (although the insert is black in the pictures)
    AAK came with black wheels

    accessories BAKXQQ
    B = underseat heater and defroster
    A = strato-flight hydramatic transmission
    KX = custom foam cushion front only
    QQ = deluxe carpet floor mat – convt only

    FRAM in the lower right hand corner may be additional accessories
    F = back up lamps
    R = full flow oil filter
    A = strato-flight hydramatic transmission (why would they repeat it?)
    M = electric clock

    note there is nothing in accessories that would indicate a tri-power set up, that would be code PX. so it is likely that the three deuces are not original which is probably just fine because the ’57 star burst air cleaner alone would be worth more than the rest of the car and in ’57 the reserve carbs operated on a vacuum system which was not very reliable. ’58 went to a mechanical system which was much better. still, wish it had the original air cleaner.

    love decoding data plates and vins. no i will not bid on this one.

  11. G 1

    Demoed a 4dr hardtop in 1970 I had got for free.
    GMC used Pontiac motors in the beginning.

  12. Jerry HW Brentnell

    the way I look at this find a 57 pontiac 2 door sedan and make 1 car out of 2 , i dragged a 56 ford 2 door sedan home from california no power train for a guy he put 2 door hardtop doors on it and he had a rust bucket crown victoria to get all the trim off of, dropped a 394 olds engine in it and made himself a hotrod ford! so do the same here this thing would be a nice home for a 500 caddy engine and power train!

  13. Dave Wright

    This is the same as a Chev chassis with a longer wheelbase. If it was a 55, I would be buying it………most of the needed parts are available new from the Chevrolet suppliers. Doors, floorboards, glass, all the same. Pontiacs are a far superior car than a Chev in most any way you can think of. I have owned both and the Pontiac is a magnificent car where the Chevrolet is a good car.

    • Jerry HW Brentnell

      isn’t this car sitting on a 57 oldsmobile frame? I know canadian pontiacs are more chev than anything else, for instance, they had chev power trains frames, and had shorter front fenders and a lot of other things

      • Dave Wright


  14. Rustytech Member

    I’ve seen tri 5 Chevy’s way worse than this hit $6 to $7k. This being a top down Poncho with tri carb’s, I think it’s well worth saving. Way more project than I could take on, but I hope someone does.

  15. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    rare….and this one’s pretty complete per say……rare…..

  16. brian crowe

    Sold at $8310.00 wow.

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