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Stunning Survivor: 1956 Pontiac Star Chief Catalina

The 1950s was a fascinating era in American automotive history. It represented a time before safety and emission regulations dominated design and engineering. Manufacturers were focused on glitz and glamor, and chrome trim was king. It was against this backdrop that this 1956 Pontiac Star Chief Catalina rolled off the production line. It would have commanded attention when it was new, and it is still capable of doing that some 65-years later. After eleven years in his possession, the owner of this classic has decided that the time has come for it to move on to another person who will continue to appreciate it. Located in Oakham, Massachusetts, you will find the Pontiac listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding currently sits at $13,700, although the reserve hasn’t been met. I have to say thank you to Barn Finder Larry D for referring the Catalina to us.

The Pontiac is finished in a stunning combination of Catalina Blue and Nimbus Gray. Pairing these colors together creates a head-turning classic, and it should attract plenty of positive comments wherever it goes. The paint shines beautifully, with no defects visible in the supplied photos. The panels are straight, with no evidence of dings, dents, or prior accident damage. The owner purchased the vehicle around 11-years-ago, and under his custody, the Catalina has never seen snow or rain. He doesn’t mention any rust problems, and if the car has been as cherished as the photos would seem to suggest, there is every chance that it has managed to remain rust-free. The Pontiac is fitted with tinted glass, and this appears to be perfect. The paint combination might be eye-catching, but it is the lashings of chrome trim that make the car truly stunning. There is no shortage of it, and its condition appears to be flawless. One of my favorite features is the twin strips running up the hood. The strips are purely decorative, but the hood would look wide, flat, and relatively featureless without them. The hubcaps appear to be free from damage, and the wide whitewall tires that the car rolls on provide the perfect finishing touch to the exterior appearance.

The 1956 Star Chief came equipped with a 316ci V8 engine, which produced 227hp. There was a choice of two transmissions, and in this case, we find a 4-speed Hydramatic. These were the days before muscle cars, and while the ¼-mile ET of 18.1 seconds might not sound that special, it was nothing to be sneezed at in 1956. During the 11-years that the seller has owned the Pontiac, he has lavished plenty of care and attention on it. Both the engine and transmission have been rebuilt, while the fuel pump, radiator, brake booster, and master cylinder have come in for similar treatment. The pinion seal has been replaced, and otherwise, the car has been lovingly maintained. The owner says that everything works as it should, making this a turn-key proposition that is ready to be driven and enjoyed by its next lucky owner.

Apart from a fresh carpet set, the interior trim is said to be original and unmolested. The Pontiac’s interior is trimmed in a combination of blue cloth and white leather, and it is as stunning as the rest of the vehicle. A couple of the buttons are missing off the front seat, but a competent upholsterer should be able to fit new ones to restore the original appearance. There is some slight “yellowing” on the white leather, but it remains in remarkable condition for its age. Overall, I would class the condition as being above average for a survivor-grade car. Pontiac chose to continue the chrome theme inside the Catalina, and the dash wears lashings that appears to be in good condition. The factory AM radio remains intact, and the original owner ordered the car with factory air conditioning. The system is complete, but it doesn’t blow cold. It is the only feature that doesn’t operate, and getting it functioning again should be worth the effort.

Every time I look at a Pontiac, I find it hard to believe that a company that could produce such amazing cars could not survive economic rationalism. The brand’s loss was a sad day for American automotive history, but at least there are still cars like this 1956 Star Chief Catalina to keep the memory alive. It seems that someone is about to land themselves a turn-key classic that should offer them years of motoring pleasure. Is this a car that you would be interested in pursuing further?


  1. Redwagon

    Beautiful car. Nice write up. 10 hours of potential eyes on the article and not 1 comment. Even a 1940s pickup would get more love.

    Like 12
  2. Will Fox

    A gorgeous `56 that’s been very well kept! When I was 5, my grandmother drove a twin to this in Pink/Nimbus Gray, and got hit by a freight train doing over 60 through her small town’s crossing. She never saw it coming. It was unfortunately her death that brought crossing arms/lights to that spot soon after. Things were sure different back then.

    Like 9
  3. Bob the mech

    Honestly, somebody out there buy that Pontiac! Looking at the overall condition a bid around $15,000.00 would be fair. Fixing the A.C. may run around $2000.00 if the system is intact, new dryer, compressor seals, possibly bearings, expansion valve, have it checked out.

    Like 3
  4. Bob the mech

    Also, give the shocks and suspension and ball joints and knuckle arms a good look along with the steering.

    • Marty Parker

      Pontiac’s didn’t have ball joints in 56.

      Like 2
      • Paul52

        Probably still using king pins.

  5. BigDoc BigDoc987

    Always loved these cars because of the luxury they emitted.

    Like 4
  6. Rustytech Member

    Love the 4dr. hardtop body style, too bad they don’t still make it. They all the good looks of the 2 dr. with the practicality of the 4dr. sedan. This car looks like a nice example, and without the ugly continental spare tire.

    Like 5
  7. Solosolo KEN TILLY UK Member

    Love that it’s a four door! Great looking car. I had a 1951 Pontiac Star Chief I think it was 17 in two tone grren with 3 pointed star hubcaps and i thought I was the bees knees. Good days back in the ’50’s.

    Like 4
  8. Actual Car Guy

    This car has had way more restoration work than the seller is letting on. It’s obviously had a repaint and a lot of replating. It’s pretty but not the definition of a survivor.

    • Dave Mazz

      I guess that’s why “Bob the mech” suggested that one should look at the ball joints, so a potential buyer can point out it’s *not* a survivor and knock down the reserve price 5 or 6 grand..
      :-) :-)

      Like 1
  9. John Oliveri

    Lucy and Ricky Ricardo had this car in a convertible, Luuuucy!!!!!!!!!

  10. David D. Taylor

    My Dad’s last NEW car – and the one for his final drive – was a 1956 4-dr in gray and pink. He loved that car – and so did I. I so enjoyed driving it, although it was before the days of cruise-drive there was a tendency to go faster and faster without noticing it. I think it was called “heavy foot syndrone”.

    Like 2
  11. BucknerBobby Member

    I’m in Texas and I wouldn’t fix the a/c…. looks too good with all those windows down!

    Like 3
  12. Paul52

    Compare this financialy with the ’66 Impala SS on here for $11K. Where do you want to spend your $$$?

  13. John Allen

    My grandmother had one of these in green and white. When her cousin died, she inherited another one, this one solid blue. Since she didn’t need two cars, she sold the green one. Favorite memory? She accidentally passed her exit on the freeway, pulled over to the shoulder and backed up to the exit ramp. Lord that woman was a terrible driver. Good thing she was surrounded by a tank.

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