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Tin Woody: 1954 Pontiac Chieftain Wagon


This old red barn is the kind of barn we all dream of opening and finding a rare car hiding in. Sadly, if a barn like this is hiding something, it’s usually a worn out family sedan that was driven hard and put away wet. What was found in this barn might have been a family hauler, but it isn’t just your run of the mill family sedan. It’s a 1954 Pontiac Chieftain Tin Woody, but it looks like it may have still been driven hard and was definitely put away wet. Be sure to check out the seller’s listing here on eBay.


This tin woody was parked in this North Dakotan barn in 1982 and hasn’t been touched since. After the current owner discovered it, they bought it from the second owner, pulled it out of the barn, and got it running. They haven’t tried driving it, as they didn’t clean out the fuel system. It will likely need to be completely gone through before it will be safe to drive, but it’s amazing that it started after sitting for so long.


Tin Woodies might not have the style or appeal of a true woody wagon, but repairing sheet metal is much easier than replacing hand fit wood body panels. On the other hand, it also means these aren’t nearly as valuable, which could make it difficult to justify the cost of restoring this one. Being highly original helps it a bit, but it will have to go cheap to be a realistic project. Would you rather fix this tin worm infested wagon or battle the termites of a true woody wagon?


  1. Dolphin Member

    “Unfortunately, the windows and some of the sheet metal had been shot by vandals”

    Looks like it’s already half way to being a rat rod.
    Why not take it the rest of the way?

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    • Josh Staff

      Throw in a 350 V8 and a serape blanket on the front seat and it would be good to go!

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      • Dolphin Member


        I don’t expect to ever own a rat rod, but every one I have ever seen at the many Show ‘N Shines around here sure looked cool, especially if they have a bullet hole or two—-purely for effect, mind you, like the rust that was left on the bodies and the interiors that were left in the loft of the garage and….

        Unlike Elvis, I have never shot a car, even if it refused to start.

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      • charles l. coker

        josh, that is just what we don’t need to see more of, people throwing a chevy 350 into another old Pontiac.

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  2. Seth

    Amazing how good the sheetmatal looks after all these years. Imagine how bad an early 70’s car would look if stored like that.

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  3. Rolly Doucet

    What is it with gun nuts and old cars? The Pontiac Tin Woody in this article is shot full of bullet holes. Just outside of the city of Ottawa, Canada, in a farmers’ back field, sat an old car that people used for target practice for years. It was a 1934 Ford 3 window coupe complete with the small 60 HP flathead. The entire car was there, as if it had once been driven and parked there. I thought that long before the car was ruined by many not-so-sharp shooters, someone would have called attention to the cars value, and rescued it.

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  4. paul

    I’ll take it all the barn, the land, the tin woody, I’ll take the whole deal except they can keep Clarance & his toothless buddy’s.

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  5. James Masteller

    I found a 1956 Ford Wagon four years ago and thought what the heck…I am married and have a daughter no need to impress the lady’s…I rebuilt the 311 V8 and the 2 speed tranny..Farmed out the Body Work,re-did the interior ( all three seats)..New tires and brakes…all in all I put $10,000 into it…And I got a great summer car, that I even can haul my daughter and six of her team mates to fast-pitch in…It is a shame no one will step forward and return this car to the road…not just a show car but a sunny day- weekend driver….

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  6. Andrew Minney

    I’m with Paul on this.
    Twickenham, England

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  7. Brian

    Push it back in the barn, bullet holes and all!

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  8. rancho bella

    Look at the tailgate, attachment tag states Fargo………..well shoot. If you’ve seen the movie, you know why the bullet holes……………..the car is quite doable………hmmm, that didn’t come out right………….

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  9. geomechs geomechs Member

    It looks like one of those restorations that you’d have to be dedicated to. For the right person it’s a worthwhile project. It’s a little beyond what I’d be willing to tackle but not impossible. Good luck with the new owner.

    And yes, I can’t understand what kicks people get by shooting old vehicles. It’s too bad some of those old vehicles can’t shoot back.

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  10. ConservativesDefeated

    We all should be thanking the fella who rescued the car!

    Whether you think it is too far gone ( I dont think so) or its not worth restoring (from a monetary perspective, probably not), it is a doable project for someone who wants originality and is willing to spend the money.

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  11. Jim-Bob

    While the bullet holes are somewhat tragic, they aren’t what really scares me about this car. No, what scares me is that it looks like large sections of the rockers are missing due to rust from road salt. That tells me that the frame is probably not in all that good condition either. It also has a front clip from a different car and so it saw a fairly substantial shunt to the front end. This car was parked because it was used up, and probably some time in the mid to late sixties.

    So far as the gun hate, lighten up. It’s likely that when this thing was parked it was worth maybe $10-20 in scrap metal and as desirable as a 1985 Buick Century “woodie” wagon is today. Yes, some bored farm kids got their kicks with it back in the day, but it was a dead old beater to them because of when it happened. Heck, they might have even beat the crap out of it as a yard car before that. While I don’t condone destroying old cars with gunfire or any other method, I also see this as a survivor. Most cars in this poor condition back then were scrapped. This one survives to possibly live another day.

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  12. Alan

    . . Curious as to what the reserve is. . Most people think that just because it is old that it is a $20,000 car BEFORE the $35,000 that I would take to restore it. .

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