Sweet Old Survivor: 1951 Pontiac Chieftain


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Probably because I was born in 1951, I have a soft spot in my heart for all cars made that year. This nice old 1951 Pontiac Chieftain sedan for sale on craigslist in Howell, New Jersey caught my eye as soon as I saw it.


This car seems to be mostly original, but has had some refreshing by its current owner. The seller says his dad bought the car about 4 years ago, after it had been sitting in a garage locally since 1968. They had the car towed to a friend’s shop and had it completely gone over.


They did the brakes, wheel cylinders, belt, hoses, water pump, put on four new Coker white wall tires, had the fuel pump replaced, and even better, the gas tank was removed, cleaned and the inside dipped with a porcelain coating so no future rust would occur.


They also had a new battery and an NOS voltage regulator installed. Check out that hood ornament!


Since the seats had been covered by seat covers, they are in great shape, but are showing some staining. Where the current owners strayed from original is that they had all four door panels redone, a new carpet installed, so originality purists will not be happy about that.


This pretty Chieftain has its original straight eight engine and shows only 60,000 original miles. Amazingly, the radio still works. It comes with an original 1951 license plate on the front.


According to the seller, the car “starts right up and drives down the road straight.” The headliner is original and appears to be in good condition. The seller says the paint appears to be mostly original, but has had some touch ups through the years. Chrome looks good, with some pitting.


Overall, this appears to be a very solid, mostly original 65 year old car that would be a delightful Sunday driver and great to bring to local car shows and old car get togethers, parades, etc. At first, I thought the asking price of $8,500 might be on the high side, but some research on 1951 Pontiac values tends to support this as a very reasonable asking price. Average retail seems to be around $12,000, so maybe this is a good deal after all. I know some of you will not go for any four door car, but when I was growing up, it seemed that cars like this one were everywhere. Most families wanted four door cars. Pontiac made 64,424 of this model in 1951, so even now, it’s not super rare, but if it’s as solid as it appears to be, this would be a really fun car to own, and a great example of fifties era daily drivers.

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  1. Wayne


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  2. MikeG

    Very pretty old driver!

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  3. Gary K

    I would think of it as a gentleman’s car and a handsome one at that. Nice body lines and bright work. Love the old Indian head hood ornament which should still light up as original. The only thing appears to be non original from the pictures presented is the rear view mirror on drivers door, after market? I would put this in my garage any day, nice find!

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  4. Kurt W. Krauss.

    Listing removed.

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  5. Peter L.

    I dislike that fuzzy material which I frequently see in old cars. I’m sure it’s cheaper and more plentiful than the original, but I think it cheapens the car’s appearance. For me, that’s an instant reduction of an offer to buy.

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  6. Healeydays

    That is a good looking land yacht. It’s already been taken down from Craigslist, so it may have found that new home.

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  7. Jim Benjaminson

    Had a ’54 in my college days. Great old car – solid as a rock, and about as speedy until you got it wound up on the road. Underseat heater made it toasty warm on the coldest of days. And the radio had the best tone from that 10″ speaker in the dash. No power steering made it a bear to park but all in all a great car.

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  8. Charles

    Nice old ride!

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  9. Andrew

    Did this car started the fashion of having amber lights at the front?

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  10. alabee

    Went to my senior high school prom ’66 in a 52 straight eight. There were three couples in the car. What a ride!

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