Streetside Classics-Dallas/Fort Worth
5400 Sandshell Dr
Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth, TX
If you've got a little brother who was more popular than you, then maybe you can relate to the plight of this 1955 Pontiac Chieftain Catalina Coupe De Luxe. Typically priced much lower than a comparable Chevy Bel Air, you get similar styling in a bigger package, more horsepower from a 287 cubic inch "Strato Streak" V8, and a more mature and refined look that might appeal to those of us with a bit of gray around the temples.
1955 was a crucial year for Pontiac, ushering a completely new design for its already successful Chieftain, and examples like this 2nd generation Catalina (hardtop) Coupe De Luxe (trim level and continental kit) were instrumental in starting off Pontiac's Tri-5 excellence with a bang. The A-Body was so new and revolutionary, Pontiac boldly proclaimed: "Everything New But Its Wonderful Name", and designer Paul Gillan was universally lauded for his beautiful creation. Crisper, smoother, nearly three inches lower than its predecessor, it features lots of trim, a flashy hardtop profile, and enough familiar DNA to make it a handsome alternative to the more common Chevy. Flashy two-tone paint jobs were all the craze in the 1950's, and we absolutely love how the upper White color sweeps down to the middle of the front doors, then back across the trunk to give the illusion of greater length. The contrasting Nautilus Blue is a perfect choice for any lover of the era, and the two colors really hug the curvaceous sheetmetal that remains in great shape. Any signs of use are hard to find, although this isn't some perfect show pony. This Poncho was meant to be driven. It fits together quite nicely, with good gaps and doors that close with reassuring solidity, and since there are practically zero reproduction pieces for this car, you know it has led a good life to look this good today. Trim and brightwork are somewhat more restrained than on the Chevy, although the trademark side and hood trim is a dead giveaway that you're looking at a Chieftain. A small fortune went to the chrome shop, where the bumpers, grille, and other ornamentation were restored to excellent standards, especially those super-cool taillight housings and trim pieces. And because this is a De Luxe trim level car, you get a big continental kit out back, along with fender skirts over the rear tires, finishing the elegant look perfectly.
One look inside and you can see why so many people fell in love with the simple elegance and beautiful design of Pontiacs from the 1950s. The refreshed two-tone seats have been reupholstered in factory correct Code 259 gray cloth and black faux leather, using a pattern that's right for the era and remains all-day comfortable. The chrome-laden and slick-black dashboard is all stock, hiding behind that incredibly cool dual-ringed, jet-age steering wheel, which is in fantastic restored condition. Thick carpets on the floor use a plush weave and nap while the matching two-tone door panels tie the whole cabin together wonderfully. Original gauges are crisp and clear inside a that amazing bezel, and one look above at the taut headliner lets everyone know that nothing was overlooked during the rebuild. Out back, the neatly finished trunk was painted to match the white portion of the car and offers a reproduction mat and full-size bias-ply spare tire and jack set that are stowed away in the factory position.
The Pontiac was only a little bigger than the Chevy, but the 287 cubic inch V8 was definitely stronger than Chevy's 283, and factory performance rated at 180HP is downright impressive. Add in the factory-style Rochester 2-barrel carburetor and original air cleaner set-up, and you have a low-profile cruiser that can run with the best of them. It's nicely finished with Pontiac Dark Blue engine enamel, black-painted inner fenders and blue firewall, and factory components everywhere you look that give this '55 massive curb appeal. It's backed by the virtually indestructible GM Hydra-Matic 3-speed automatic transmission whose crisp shifts are a true mechanical pleasure. It starts quickly and pulls hard through the gears with only a whisper of V8 soundtrack from the single exhaust pipe out back. A sanitary frame undercarriage reinforce the idea that this has always been a solid car, and with chrome wire wheel covers and 215/75/15 whitewall radials, it rides and handles superbly.
It's hard to call a Pontiac unusual, but this Chieftain Catalina Coupe De Luxe will stand apart from the vastly more common Chevys and Fords, and for all the right reasons. Call today!
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