Easy Project? 1956 Pontiac Chieftain

In the mid-1950s, the Pontiac Chieftain was akin to Chevrolet’s mid-range 210. While the basic platform was the same, the Pontiac rode on a seven-inch longer wheelbase. The Star Chief may have been similar to the Bel Air as the top model, but the wheelbase was even longer at two additional inches. The seller offers up a 1956 edition here on craigslist but doesn’t mention what model it so we’re guessing it’s a Chieftain Catalina. Though the photos provided show it on a trailer, we’re told the car does run and drive, so perhaps not a lot of work is needed. Located in Spokane Valley, Washington, this Pontiac is available for $20,000. Thanks for the tip, T.J.!

The Chieftain was Pontiac’s entry-level car from 1949-58. It was produced over three generations and – like Chevrolet – the 1958 model would be a one-year-only design. As the Chevrolets were minimally changed from 1955 to 1956, so were the corresponding Pontiacs. The 287 cubic inch V8, which was new in 1955, had a larger displacement in 1956, up to 317 CI. That meant that the output also increased from 192 to 205 hp. For safety reasons, a padded dashboard was offered as an option. While Chevy’s sales stayed mostly constant, Pontiac saw a 20% decline in demand for 1956, but 1955 had been a record year.

No history is provided on this 1956 Pontiac, so we assume it was a barn find (or shed or garage, etc.). The car looks to have survived well and no noticeable rust is apparent on the sheet metal. Once the automobile is detailed, the red over black paint may shine up nice enough to leave as-is. There is a small tear in the driver’s seat, but otherwise, the interior may be fine. There are not enough photos of critical areas to permit further scrutiny.

If this is your basic Chieftain Catalina coupe, the seller’s car is one of about 46,000 assembled in 1956, but when was the last time you saw one? Other than an automatic transmission to go with the V8, we don’t know what other options were purchased. The odometer reading is a placeholder, so we don’t know how far this Pontiac has traveled in the last 66 years, either. But this looks like a sound automobile that’s itching to get going again.


  1. Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

    Haven’t we seen this one before? And why would anyone pay that much for this old boat? It’s not an especially desirable car. $5-7K maybe.

    Like 9
  2. Rick

    Barrett-Jackson and Mecum have convinced everyone who owns an antique/special interest/hot rod/milestone vehicle that it’s worth way more than its actual worth.

    Like 15
  3. Jerry Bramlett

    Monsters like this one do have a following, but it’s very small and growing smaller every day.

    IF this car has no rust damage, and the original paint will buff out, AND it’s equipped with power steering, I can see it fetching $10,000 to $15,000. Well… if the ad runs long enough.

    A quick sale is unlikely above $5,000 with such a vague ad. The people who want it are all aged between 70 and dead. Most are living in Florida. None of them are gamblers or have the instincts of a gunslinger.

    Like 9
    • John A.Kezlaw

      nope , live in South Jersey

  4. Mike

    With all the work that this car needs I would be into it for maybe $800. I don’t care about the almighty profit, I am only concerned with how much is it going to cost me….and I am poor, but love old cars. Reality check.

    Like 4
  5. Chuck Simons

    While I love the 55 Pontiacs more than a Chevy, I’m not getting sucked into that tribe again.

  6. bone

    I know there’s a lot of flippers out there and this seems to happen nearly every time , but when a flipper is in so much of a hurry to make a big score that he is taking pics of the car in the sellers yard, including shots of the car with his helpers winching it down ,I just lose interest in the car. It just seems shady to me , like you paid nearly nothing for it (usually from a senior citizen who also gets in a shot )and are selling it for big money right away. At least get it back to your place, wash it, and post a decent shot of it .

    Like 3
  7. Graeme T

    According to all reports this generation of cars is becoming less and less sought after. I hope the chrome is ok and it survives. But re-chroming it? Never gonna happen.

    Like 1
  8. philip ashmore

    cant tell a damn thing from that ad waste of time

    Like 1
  9. fastglasslp

    These flippers give the whole car hobby a bad taste. Predatory intentions? I hope it goes to a good home. My bid? $5000 max after personal or at least indepent inspection?

    Like 1

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