Running Garage Find: 1955 Pontiac Chieftain

Disclosure: This site may receive compensation from some link clicks and purchases.

The Pontiacs were all-new for 1955 (just like their counterparts at Chevrolet). The Chieftain was the entry-level model and accounted for 63% of sales that year. Pontiac gained a V8 in ‘55, the first time an eight-cylinder had been offered since 1932. This Chieftain 2-door sedan was laid up in a garage for 10 years, seeing the light of the day for an extended time in 2022. Some work has been done to revive the old car, but more will be needed.

Pontiac’s new 287 cubic inch V8 produced 173 or 180 horsepower depending on the compression ratio, and with a 4-barrel carburetor, 200 hp could be coaxed out of the motor. The vehicles continued with Pontiac’s signature “Silver Streak” chrome strips on the hood and trunk. Pontiac built 554,000 automobiles in 1955 of which 350,000 were Chieftains and – of those – 87,000 were 2-door sedans like this one.

Once the car was extracted from storage, a new gas tank and fuel lines were installed. The carburetor was rebuilt and the brakes were partially redone. The engine is said to be original, and the car has 76,000 miles on the odometer with a 3-speed manual transmission (“3-on-the-tree). We’re told the “Poncho” runs and drives but needs more brake work.

The body and paint will need some attention (the former has some filler in it) and the interior may be okay as the seller thinks the seat covers and carpeting are newer. The seller has too many projects ongoing to devote more time to the Pontiac, located in Cortland, Ohio. The asking price is $5,000 here on Facebook Marketplace. Is this a project you’d like to undertake (something different than a Tri-Five Chevy)?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. BillB

    Fair asking price. The filler in the bottom 1/4 ahead of the rear wheel concerns me and should be negotiated into the price.

    Like 5
  2. Kenneth Carney

    Kudos to the seller for getting it off the trailer and cleaning it up some.
    A lot of the time, they don’t do themselves or the car they’re selling
    any favors by just leaving it perched up there. Looks like a straightforward
    proposition to me. Fix what needs to
    be fixed, and drive it while you finish
    it at your leisure. Good luck with your

    Like 6
  3. geezerglide 85

    I always liked these better than the more mainstream Chevys. I think at 5 grand this will be gone quick. If it was ’55 Chevy it would be at least double the price. The factory 3-on-the-tree makes this one kind of rare. Most buyers that upgraded to a Pontiac went for the automatic trans. I like how the Pontiacs still used the old style thru-the-floor pedal setup (through ’57) and not like the Chev’s hanging pedals. If I had a garage I’d be on my way to look at this one, but I got an old Harley and a house that’s not finished. nuff sed.

    Like 4
  4. TommyT-Tops

    Looks like a lot of fun for 5k glwta

    Like 2
  5. Kenneth Carney

    Not all that fond of the master cylinder being placed under the driver’s side floor though geezerglide. Had the devil’s own time replacing the master cylinder on
    the ’52 Chevy sedan I had as a kid in
    highschool. No wonder the farmer I bought the car from didn’t bother to
    replace it. Anyhoo, I’d give the old unit the heave ho in favor of a more
    modern 2-pot system with disc brakes up front for more stopping power. Still like it even though it is a
    2-door. Need a 4-door to make my
    insurance company happy.

    Like 2
    • David Michael Carroll

      I have never heard of this situation before!!!

      Like 2
      • Norman K Wrensch

        Then you have not worked on too many older cars. most cars before 1955 had the master cylinder located under the floor boards.

        Like 1
  6. Dennis Stoeser

    My dad had one just like this except his was blue. It would go 50mph in first gear. Quite fast when compared to his previous 49 Chevy that was good for 50 in second.

    Like 0
  7. Dennis Stoeser

    What situation?

    Like 0
  8. Bob P

    I’m 81, but I believe I had a 1953 Poncho in 1963 with a “Straight 8” under the hood. I was a PFC in the Marines stationed at MCAS Cherry Point, N.C. in Havelock, N.C.

    Like 8
    • al

      yes I had a 1948 Pontiac with a straight 8 1955 was first year for a v8 they had straight 8 flat heads before 1955

      Like 0
  9. TC

    Not sure,but I think it was about the insurance company being happier about 4 doors over 2.Odd to me,too.Maybe if it was still 1970

    Like 0
  10. Kurt Rogahn

    Russ should correct this: In 1955, Pontiac offered its first V8 since 1932. Over the intervening years, Pontiac cranked out a slew of straight 8s.

    Like 6
  11. 4501 Safari

    Absolutely on the V-8 heritage and Pontiac. My Dad loved straight eights. I still have one.

    Like 2
  12. stillrunners stillrunnersMember

    Nice and kinda rare with the 3sp on the tree….

    Like 0
  13. stillrunners stillrunnersMember

    Forgot that bumper guard too….don’t see those often….

    Like 0
  14. Mike

    My dad had a 56 that was green and white it had power windows and seat, I was young around 5 or 6 but I loved cars at an early age, I thaught it was the coolest car with all that chrome

    Like 0
  15. Glen Riddle

    My first car at 16 was a 6 year old ’55 Chieftain wagon that my folks had bought new. Thanks for the memories!
    Good luck to both seller and buyer.

    Like 2
  16. Thomas H Piercy

    My first car was almost identical to this one except mine was a 2 door pillarless hardtop, also with a stick shift. i purchased it at Pontiac Village in Boston, As is needing a water pump with 62,000 miles in 1961. I paid $250 for the car and $250 for insurance. It was a really good car, white/gray with red inside. Didn’t have money to put loud duals on it, but the transmission made loud noises when backing down in 2nd gear like wam-wam-wam wa. The other kids at Newton High would say, hey! that car is a stick. They all made that noise, nothing wrong with it. So if you drive this car, don’t be surprised.

    Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.

Barn Finds