Luxury automakers are getting into the trend of offering illuminated front emblems as a symbol of status and sophistication. Mercedes’ website for the new GLC-Series states, “Let your star shine. Thanks to fiber-optic cables and LED technology, the central star emblem in your Mercedes’ radiator grille lights up.”
This type of feature is nothing new or exclusive, however. Pontiac was using similar equipment on its models as far back as the 1950s.
The Pick of the Day is a 1955 Pontiac Star Chief listed for sale on ClassicCars.com by a private seller in Reno, Nevada. (Click the link to view the listing)
Prominently poised at the front of the hood is an ornament with a plastic figurine in the shape of an Indian chief. This hood ornament would illuminate when the headlights were turned on.
“The car was treated to a no-expense-spared frame-off restoration. This car was meticulously restored by the owner who restored multiple cars during his lifetime,” the listing states.
The full-sized Star Chief was sold between model years 1954 and 1966 as a high-end trim package on the Chieftain. It shared the General Motors A-body platform with the Chevrolet Bel Air and was characterized by having stars along the side panels. Another key characteristic of Pontiacs of this era were the dual “silver streak” chrome accent strips running across the hood. Body styles over the car’s lifespan included coupes, sedans, convertibles, and station wagons.
This Star Chief example comes in Nautilus Blue from the model’s second generation which launched in 1955. This car was reportedly sold new in Salt Lake City, Utah. Later in the life, the car went through a complete cosmetic overhaul in which the frame was stripped and powder coated. The two-tone black and white vinyl interior has been similarly refurbished and looks factory-fresh in the photos.
The seller does not specify whether the car’s drivetrain is original, but the Star Chief would have come from the assembly plant with a 287cid “Strato Streak” V8 motor in 1955. Motor displacement was increased in the years that followed.
It is also not mentioned in the ad whether the illuminated hood ornament works, but that would be the icing on the cake of what appears to be an already exceptional build!
The seller is asking $89,900 or best offer for this double-nickel Star Chief, which we think has front-end ornamentation even more special than a late-model Mercedes-Benz.
To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.
In the U.K. the Wolseley cars also had the illuminated badge on the radiator grille in the 1950’s & 60’s. Like you say nothing new for Mercedes.
Lighted radiator ornaments existed at least by the early 1930s, possibly earlier. Persons-Majestic Company (they also made a lot of bicycle items) introduced lighted crystal ornaments. Some Lalique crystal radiator ornaments were illuminated. During the 1940s-1960s there were lots and lots of illuminated hood ornaments although most were aftermarket accessories. Take a look in old J.C. Whitney catalogues. There were also earlier Pontiac light hood ornaments.
Finally …however meticulous this restoration may be claimed to be… the four pieces of ribbed trim under the tail lights and reverse gear lights are all missing. And a single-toned 1955 Pontiac Star Chief would have been considered downright bizarre on the streets of Detroit when these cars were new. EEEEk! That was the whole purpose of the bright sweep on the doors… to show off two-tone paint jobs that were all the rage then! Also very odd to be missing the stainless skirts and to have a hard, glossy NON-padded dash, yet have a lighted hood ornament. Hmmmmm.
I say this as a member of a family that owned three NEW 1955 Pontiacs.
Monotones were available. Even in Detroit.
nice car?? yes? that much dough?….NO!
I had a 1955 Poncho back in 1963. Cost $100,
Rocker arms were not getting proper oil. Replaced many of them.
Bought a Healey 100 shortly after that.
I’m surprised no one has mentioned, it was a 1955 Pontiac Star Chief Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel made their 1950s legendary New York to Hollywood cross country road trip in the I Love Lucy TV series. The episodes featured great road shots of the loaded down Pontiac as it barreled down the highway to California, usually with it’s headlights on. However while in Hollywood, Ricky sold the Pontiac to a friend at the studio, which resulted in the Recardos and Mertzes taking the train back to New York. Back in the day, the car was great advertising for GM’s Pontiac Division. Over 68 years later, you can usually find I Love Lucy reruns playing on one or more major US networks. We Baby Boomers grew up with the shows cast becoming part of our families.