The fate of this ’55 Pontiac Chieftain came down to a bidding war over its value as scrap.

All cars have a history. Some are more interesting than others. Often, it seems that the story involves an extended time parked somewhere like a garage, shed, open field and of course the classic barn. Also often, the story includes someone who planned to restore the car but for whatever reason never did. Eventually the car is “discovered”, brought back out into the light of day and then finally restored to its former glory.

Well this one is not like that. Oh, it sat for an extended period of time somewhere but apparently nobody wanted it for long enough that it eventually ended up at an auction where someone hoped to get something out of it. But instead of the bidding war that was maybe hoped for, the cars future came down to bidding between some scrappers apparently bidding on it for its value as scrap metal and a friend of the current owner who couldn’t bear to see it crushed, melted down and turned into some foreign car.

Fortunately the friend came out on top and took this Chieftain home and dropped it in a field where it sat long enough to half sink into the ground. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but at least the story now includes some time in a field.

Without too much time passing, Austin Cobb and his father Patrick talked the friend into letting them drag the Pontiac out of the field and over to MCR so they could bring it back to life again. Mr. Cobb had worked with MCR on other cars in the past so he knew that they could handle something less common like this Chieftain.

This may have been at least part of the reason why the car was at the auction in the first place. Being a fairly rare car, it doesn’t have the restoration aftermarket support of a ’55 Chevy. You can’t just order everything you need from a catalog. In fact, about the only parts that interchange with a Chevy are the doors and the trunk lid. For most, just locating the needed parts could take years but Cobb knew that MCR’s network of suppliers could find what was needed to complete the project.

Surprisingly, the Pontiac had a title listing the last owner from 1965. It is thought to have originally come out of Kansas with a dealer price of $2335; certainly above average for a car in the mid-fifties. Somehow it made its way to Oklahoma for the bulk of its life where a drier climate likely helped preserve it. 

Overall the car was actually in pretty good shape with most of the rust damage confined to the floor. The engine and trans of course needed a rebuild and Austin, being a mechanic himself, had no trouble handling that task.

Austin had MCR restore the car to match the codes on the body tag with the exceptions of a factory A/C install and the dog dish hubcaps and yes, the red carpet in the interior was how the car was delivered.

It would have been a terrible shame had this one been lost to a recycling company. Thankfully someone saw value when others didn’t and Austin and Patrick had the vision to see it through. It’s not just a part of history that has been saved but also a wonderful work of rolling art that will be enjoyed by many.

If you can look past the ugly, you’ll see that the body was in pretty fair shape. It was certainly restorable if you could find all the needed parts. Note that Austin had already rebuilt the engine and trans at this point and installed them in the car.
Black over red is the original factory color scheme. Two tone colors like this practically define the mid-fifties cars.
In a slight deviation from the factory codes, Austin choose body colored steel wheels with “dog dish” style hub caps over full wheel covers. Reproduction 7.10×15 Firestone wide white walls wonderfully finish the look. You can’t see them of course but the brakes were restored to factory specs all the way around.
Mid-fifties cars were known for massive bumpers and Austin’s Chieftain is no exception. The bumper extensions were a Star Chief item but they look just as awesome on this Chieftain.
Is it a red car with black accents or a black car with red? It depends on which end you are looking from.
The ever so slight rake is normal for these cars. Probably good considering how much room there is to stash things in the trunk.
Hood ornaments used to be a big deal and this one is a work of art unto itself. Note the jet/aerospace style.
From this end it’s a red car with lots of black and chrome trim. That’s a lot of frontal area coming at you.
1955 was the first year for a V8 in a Pontiac. Note the cut and buffed black paint surface by MCR. Mirror quality finish doesn’t adequately describe it. Nor does any photo. You have to see it to fully understand.
Dealer add on exhaust tip? Pretty cool either way. Being able to locate these types of accessories can add a lot to the look of a car.
The Strato Streak was the first V8 for Pontiac. The name was part of a Space Race marketing theme at the time. Its 287 cubic inches produced 200 HP with the four-barrel carb. Despite being only a one year displacement, Pontiac produced about a half a million of them for the entire car line in 1955. Note the unusual water pump that feeds the heads first. It was also the first 12-volt system for Pontiac. The transmission backing this small block is a Hydromatic dual range 4-speed.
This crazy looking windshield washer “jar” is part of what makes this car so unique.
Yes, that’s a lot of red but it’s how this car was built.
If you’ve ever wondered why the steering wheels were so big on these cars it’s because many of them did not have power steering. This Chieftain is one of them so Austin will appreciate the additional leverage. Check out the brake pedal that pushes through the floor rather than hanging from the dash. Also, note the shift order on the column is N, D (two drive positions for 4 and 3), Lo and then reverse. I guess you actually had to use the parking brake on this car.
A cavernous trunk and a full sized spare that was supposed to be rotated with the rest of the tires; those were the days. You could pack enough luggage in there for a full week’s vacation for a family of four.

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