Reasonably Priced 860: 1956 Pontiac Chieftain

Brian BirknerBy Brian Birkner

Recently discovered in a barn this 1956 Pontiac Chieftain is a great looking car even with its worn paint. Untouched, but ready to be revived, this light blue classic looks like a great start to a fun project. With 2 days remaining and no bids, this Pontiac may fly under the radar for the reasonable price of $2,500. Find it here on eBay out of Havre, Montana. Thank you, Jaime, for the great submission!

Powered by the ’56 316 cubic inch V8 and a very cool 3-speed manual, this Pontiac has some potential. The engine bay is grody and dirty, but there is little rust to be seen. The engine appears complete, but the condition is unknown. If you intended to maintain the car’s patina, the appearance of the engine bay would probably be spot on for that sort of thing. Hopefully there is still some life in this drivetrain, otherwise, I could see someone swapping a V8 of their choice.

The interior looks pretty rough, but the interior elements are actually in fair shape. The dash and door panels are in reasonable condition, but the seats are rough. The biggest concern is the flooring. The car is described as solid, and mostly rust free other than the concern of the floors. Water has obviously seeped into this car and pooled in the front and rear floor sections. Crispy, with holes, the floors need some attention before putting this one back on the road.

The exterior has a charming appearance, reflecting its history and originality. Despite its original appearance, someone has sprayed primer on the roof of this Pontiac. To some, it may be overlooked as original patina or worn paint, but the spray paint is concerning as it has been sprayed around the windshield, and we already know this poor Chieftain had water issues. I would be concerned about the condition of the roof around the windshield section.

As a whole, the body appears very straight with only minor blemishes from its past. The brightwork on this car looks excellent, really making it stand out. You will need to find a few items for this one as it needs, taillights, backup lights, a driver side rear window, and a passenger side headlight trim ring. This would be a great restoration project or “patina queen” for the reasonable opening bid. Would you take on this Chieftain project?


Get Daily Email Updates:


  1. Rustytech

    I like these Poncho’s, much better looking than there Chevrolet cousin. I can think of better colors than this baby blue, but since it’s going to need a restoration anyway that’s easy to change. I’d want a hands on inspection to check for hidden rust, but this seems like a fare price if all’s ok.

  2. david

    Boy Scout leader had a new one nearly exact. He was parts manager of GM dealer. Many happy memories! The 316 3-speed moved along nicely

  3. glen

    That’s like grody, to the max!

  4. Robert White

    This rebuild appeals to me, and the price is fair. This car is an off-the-shelf instant Rat Rod IMHO. Sandblast, patch, prime, and prime some more. A few coats of highbuild primer and this made to order rat rod just needs an oil change and some spark plugs until you can find something with hp, a four speed, and some new boots and shocks/springs.


  5. David C

    Very cool car. My sister had one way back when, two tone green and white. This is a great price for this looking at the pictures.

  6. geomechs

    It’s sad that the Poncho seemed to leave something to be desired compared to the offerings from Chevy. Myself, I preferred the Pontiac because I thought it had a little more substance, plus, not everyone has one today. Only drawback is the engine will likely cost more to rebuild than an SBC. This looks like a good unit. Rust will be at a minimum because of the relatively salt-free Montana roads. Whoever picks this one up should be very happy.

  7. ShaunD

    I suspect that seeing as this is a two door, it’s probably going to be hot rodded. Lovely old thing though.

  8. Sam

    This car could be a cool rat or resto mod. Preserve the patina…LED head and tail lights. 502 crate motor, Baer disc brakes, tub the rear wheel wells, 4 bomber seats, etc…

    • Blyndgesser

      How about a 455 poncho instead of the BBC?

  9. Jim Mc

    “If you intended to maintain the car’s patina, the appearance of the engine bay would probably be spot on for that sort of thing.”

    Sorry, but no. I would be much more satisfied leaving the exterior as is and giving the engine and its surroundings a fine detailing after getting it running and tuned.

    But that’s just me. YMMV. 😎

    I like this car, and I like this price.

    • brian crowe

      Apparently nobody but us Barn Find guys thought the price was good. It didn’t even get a single bid.

  10. redwagon

    why do all old pontiacs seem to be baby blue or dark green? easily changed but it’s uncanny how many times those colors appear on barn cars.

  11. kevin

    I would drive it, maybe put a newer Pontiac drive line in perhaps from a firebird

  12. Phil

    I’m really tired of seeing cars/trucks for sale without a title.

    • blyndgesser

      Some states simply will not issue a title on a vehicle made before a certain date. Often this is because that state didn’t start issuing vehicle titles at all until much later than you’d think.

      • Jim Warner

        Exactly, blyndgesser! New York State never issued titles until the 1973 models hit the market.

  13. mike d

    the seller admits the floors may need to be replaced , would try to get it up and running, but, if not, as Kevin said, use the engine from a Firebird , 301, perhaps? would want to keep a manual tranny in it .. make it safe for road use, pretty much leave the ” patina” for a little while anyways … bet it would get the stares driving it as is .. put duals on it , and you’d have a car like it was in the early 60s

  14. Paul B

    These were so uncool, old ladies’ cars at the time, and the next year Bunky Knudsen took the silver streaks off for good, as the start of Pontiac’s very successful revival as a glamorous performance car. Kind of nice to see a ’56 again in any condition.

  15. Loco Mikado

    No bids at 22 hours left. Not a good sign. If I was the seller I would think about reducing the price or relist at a lower price. Unfortunately people have little or no incentive to sell something at a lower price. Not like back in the 50’s-80’s the cost of ads could eat you alive if the item did not sell. In those days a 3 day ad in the local paper would cost you around $25.00. You could very well be eating crow if your $100.-300. car didn’t sell the first time around. In today’s money that would be $250.00 for this car.

  16. John P

    I believe that’s red oxide primer on the roof visible after the blue paint has burned off..nothing on this car scares me.. If I needed another project–I’d take this on in a second.. Very cool lines..

  17. Jim M

    55 & 56 had the heater core under the driver’s seat. To find one without front floor issues would be the rarity as both the core & the hoses leaked with regularity. Most owners never thought to look under the front seat for a water leak.
    You would take off & the seat would rock back giving you the impression of acceleration.

  18. Mark

    Finished a frame on restoration of my grandfather’s ’56 two door sedan just a few years ago. A complete professional engine rebuild ran me almost $4000!. Body, paint, wiring, and upholstery another bundle of cash. But it has a lot of good memories.

    • Robert White

      Ultra nice car & restoration, Mark. I prefer these models too.



Leave A Comment

Rules: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks. Click here to list your car for sale.


Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.