Road Trip, after Restoration: 1956 Pontiac Star Chief Convertible

Bill OwensBy Bill Owens

When I saw this car, my first thought was of I Love Lucy, a TV situation comedy from the 1950’s. Ricky buys a Pontiac Star Chief convertible for him and his wife Lucy to drive from New York to California, with their friends, Ethel and her grumpy husband, Fred, riding along in the back seat. Although the car Ricky buys is a 1955, this 1956 Pontiac Star Chief convertible is very similar. It is for sale here on Craigslist in Springfield, Missouri.

Unfortunately, at some time in its life, this convertible had some heat damage from a fire. It appears the driver’s front fender and door may have gotten the worst of it. Maybe it was a grass fire or similar fire that got a little too close to the car. The seller says it has very little rust. There are a few trim pieces missing, and that top will definitely need to be replaced.

The seats appear to be in good condition. I’m thinking they have been replaced at some time over the years. The seller does not provide a lot of information about the car but says come to see it in person. A unique feature is the rear continental kit.

The original engine in this Star Chief would be the 227 or 205 horsepower Strato-Streak 316.6 cubic inch V-8. No word of how many miles are on the car, but the seller says the engine does run. The 1956 Pontiac brochure describes the convertible as “an open invitation to a thrilling new experience” and “wherever you go admiring eyes will look your way”. That can still happen after the new owner restores it and gets it on its next road trip, just like Ricky, Lucy, Fred, and Ethel.

When I saw the asking price of $17,500, I cringed a little. I didn’t realize one in this condition would bring that much money. But in researching others for sale, I found a 1955 convertible for sale in similar condition, but not running for $11,495 and a 1956 convertible in excellent condition for $55,500. Is this a project you would like to take?

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Comments

  1. Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    +10 for a Lucy and Ricky reference! Well done, sir.

    20
    • Little Cars

      Bill obviously is writing to an international audience and one made up of different age groups, but I think it is unnecessary and redundant to say “a TV situation comedy from the 1950’s.” If anybody reading Barn Finds doesn’t know what I Love Lucy is/was, then the world is surely tumbling toward the apocalypse. Great write up otherwise and great find!

      1
  2. Gaspumpchas

    Very cool car. Price excessive?? maybe not. Looks complete, Hope someone brings it back, its deserving a resto!! maybe make an offer.

    Either way, good luck to the new owner,

    6
    • Steve R

      There are a couple of restored 55’s on eBay, one really nice recently restored car that’s spent it’s life in California and Nevada that hasn’t attracted any bids in several attempts at $49,000.

      This will likely be saved, once it’s asking price more accurately reflects restored market value-restoration costs, whatever that may be. Right now, that seems seems way too high.

      Steve R

      7
  3. Mountainwoodie

    Cringe a little? The asking price seems a piece with the present view of sellers that what they are selling is made of gold.

    This would be ( insert all typical caveats here) a great project and wonderfully beautiful car when finished………..a 100 grand later………….

    Folks just dont want to sell their cars I guess

    5
    • Jett

      “I’ve been trying to sell it for months now, honey, but nobody’s even contacted me about it!”

      10
  4. Vance

    Please, just get rid of the continental kit, it truly ruins the whole flow and looks of a beautiful car. Good luck to whoever buys it.

    9
    • ken TILLY

      Hi Vance. I was at the UK Goodwood Revival today and discovered this beautiful Buick in the car park. Check this out for a Continental kit! Please excuse my shadow as it was early in the morning.

      11
      • Redsresto

        Wish I was there with you Ken!

        2
      • Alexander

        Odd that this 58 Buick boat was parked next to a Cortina and what appears to be a big Healey. Don’t they earmark areas by marque? 🙂

      • Gray Wolf

        Great to use the Continential Kit for a tailgate party!

    • Mike W H

      Do you know how hard it is to get a body into the trunk over those goddammed things?

      1
      • GO-PAR

        Watch your language on here, sport!

        1
  5. Bob C.

    Lucy wrecked the Pontiac convertible when they first got it. Anyone remember?

    3
    • Classic Steel

      Was that when they were going
      at it parking at inspiration point and she bumped the shifter in neutral? I think that was when Ricky perfected the Lucy yell ….

      Okay seriously it can be a nice car restoration and made to enjoy on the weekends..

      1
    • mikestuff

      She and Ethel were trying to learn how to drive it and the ran into the old Cadillac that Fred bought and hooked bumpers. It was still in good enough shape that they were able to drive it to Hollywood, and many scenes showed the Pontiac with no windshield. They ended up selling it to go back to New York after all their Hollywood adventures.

      3
  6. Ike Onick

    My first thought was Sonny Corleone drove through another toll booth

    1
  7. Ken

    Needs more chrome. 🙂

    1
    • nrg8

      Yeah kinda thought it was really naked for a Pontiac.

      1
  8. Lawyer George Member

    $17500? THAT’S GOT 2 B a typing error. It could also be a transposition error as $5700.00 should buy it.

  9. canadainmarkseh Member

    Boy this car came close to burning down, I’d restore it but not that colour. It looks like a trim colour you’d put on your house in the 60’s. As for the continental kit out back I’d redesign the bumper to tuck into the body at the back and just round out around the wheel I’ve seen continentals like that and they look way better. I think the lines and styling are very cool I like these way more than the Chevies great find sure hope it gets restored.

    1
  10. mikestuff

    I was and am still a big I Love Lucy fan, and at one point I had a condo in Las Vegas where I decorated the bathroom with everything Lucy. Shower curtain, lots of stuff on the walls and a 15″ ceramic Lucy that I put on a shelf over the toilet.(new retail $130). About a month later, while I was at work, it fell, hit the toilet and broke into about 10 pieces, which I stiil have. Quit your laughin’
    I found this clip on YouTube a while back; didn’t know the scene was ever in color.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4TDxMpS_-o

    I also was in Universal Studios in Hollywood sometime in late 90’s and they had a nice Lucy museum. I talked that day to someone in management who told me they were still looking for a Pontiac to add. The museum has since been moved to Jamestown NY which was Lucille Ball’s hometown.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4TDxMpS_-o

    They also drove a nice Mercury convertible in The Long, Long Trailer–one of the best bad movies from that era, made while Lucy and Desi were really hot on TV and they wrote the characters as really unpleasant people, although there were some funny parts.

    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047191/?ref_=nv_sr_1

  11. mikestuff

    I lived in Las Vegas until 2015 and had a condo at one point, where I decorated the bathroom with Lucy stuff, including a $130 ceramic doll which I put on a shelf above the toilet. I was at work one day and the doll took a tumble, hit the toilet which was closed and broke into about 10 pieces, which I still have. Quit laughin’ please.
    I was also at the Lucy museum which was at Universal studios Hollywood once and talked to a guy who said they were still looking for a Pontiac to put on the display. It’s since moved to Jamestown, NY where Lucy was born.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4TDxMpS_-o&t=10s

  12. Bill Owens Bill Owens Staff

    Here’s another Barnfinds story you may be interested in. It discusses a Cadillac touring car similar to the one Fred bought in I Love Lucy.

    https://barnfinds.com/over-a-century-old-1914-cadillac-touring-car/

    1

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