Pick of the Day: 1955 Pontiac Chieftain hardtop in red and black

Extensive restoration looks great and ‘runs like a Swiss watch’

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The Chieftain looks resplendent in red-and-gold 2-tone paint with loads of chrome trim

Always a favorite, the 1955 Pontiac was a stylistic gem that came at a time when General Motors was on an upswing of design across its divisions. 

The Pick of the Day looks to be an exceptional example, a 1955 Pontiac Chieftain 2-door hardtop described as a “frame-off restoration job” by the Morgantown, Pennsylvania, dealer advertising the car on ClassicCars.com.

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The advertising dealer goes into the history of the division (“The brand was named after Pontiac, Grand Chief of the Ottawa Native Americans, who was famous for his rebellion against Fort Detroit (the British) in 1763.”) as well as in-depth descriptions of the design and trim on this example.

“This beauty has wonderful lines, snappy 2-tone colors and correct interior,” the dealer notes. “Lots of horizontal chrome and black-banded trim, big bumpers front and rear, and a curved rear window complete with chromed B pillar and gleaming surrounds on all window trimmings. Oh, and did I mention it runs like a Swiss watch?”

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The Chieftain looks quite regal in its gleaming red-and-black two-tone paint job, with the lavish array of intricate chrome pieces shining like new.  Anyone who has attempted to restore one of these Pontiacs knows the vast complexity of its chrome bits, and this one looks like it was done right with the required fastidiousness of detail.

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“Topping the red hood and leading the way for the smiling grille and large bumper below, a jet with a glass chieftain head provides the ornament,” the dealer says in the colorful description. “Flanking this on either side is bands of horizontal ribs running the gamut of the hood and looking much like a package wrapping for you to open and enjoy.”


Photos with the ad also show the fine condition of the interior, engine compartment and underside.  The Pontiac has its correct 287cid V8 overhead-valve engine fed by a Carter WGD 2-barrel carburetor. The engine is backed by a 4-speed Hydramatic automatic transmission and 3.08:1 ratio rear end.

The dashboard glistens with chrome accents. 

“An original-looking dash gussied up with black paint, and wide chromed bezels with inserted gauges and levers gives my eyes mid-1950s dreams, it’s that nice,” the dealer says.

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The asking price for this lovely example of a special year for Pontiac is $36,900.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Very Nice !
    I liked the 1955 , and 1956 Pontiac’s and the later 1957-58 Bonneville.
    The Oldsmobile’s 88 and Rocket 88’s from those years were nice with the 2 door Coupe , and those “two tone” paint jobs locked great !

    You see a lot of the Chevy BelAir’s from those days which are great looking cars as well but the Pontiacs and Olds are not seen as much .

    Also there was a 2 door / Chevy/Nomad wagon version that Pontiac built . I think it was called a Safari /Nomad wagon built in 1955-56 , not many survivors around but I spotted one in Harve de Grace, Maryland at a car show !

    • A friend of mine has/had a 55 Nomad that he was resto-modding before it was a widely known term (this was in the mid-90s). I only knew the car on sight because I had the Hotwheels version as a kid and never forgot it. I think he gave it to his son some years back.

  2. This is not the top of the line 1955 Pontiac. True value of the car is in the low $20,000. No one will ever pay even $30,000. The cars of the fifty’s have little value today.

  3. Looked at the listing and that Pontiac has a “fake” dual exhaust. One of the tips is a bolted-on dummy. Hard to imagine it came from the factory that way; anyone know?

  4. I like the Pontiac of the 50s my first car was a 1951 Pontiac conv eight auto now I have tri 5 chevs ,1941 ford 1947 mercury conv 1950 ford,1972 chevelle conv, and more

  5. The fact that you see valve covers on the engine tells you that it’s an overhead valve engine, otherwise, it would be called a flat head. In the flat head design, both intake and exhaust valves are found on the block and there are no rocker arms, or rocker arm covers. I am the proud owner of my original high school car, a 1956 Chevy Bel Air 2 door hard top. Over the course of my “car career,” I have owned 22 tri-fives. In the Autumn of my life, I wish I still had some of them.

  6. Very nice. I have a 53 chieftain 4 door with the flat head design with 3 on the tree. She has 43,000 miles with factory aqua paint. She sits in the barn with 74 conv. Vette.

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