Streetside Classics-Dallas/Fort Worth
5400 Sandshell Dr
Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth, TX
If you've got a little brother who's more successful than you, then maybe you can relate to the plight of this 1957 Pontiac Super Chief Catalina. For a fraction of the price of a comparable Tri-5 Bel Air, you get similar styling in a bigger package, more horsepower from a 347 cubic inch V8 under the hood, and a more mature look that might appeal to those of us with a bit of gray around the temples. Not many of these Pontiacs survived the crusher, and to find one that's been frame-off restored is even more special. Take a closer look...
The Super Chief was the top-of-the-line version of the Pontiac Chieftain series in 1957, and the Catalina (all Pontiac hardtops between 1950-1958 were dubbed Catalinas; in 1959 the Catalina became a separate model altogether because the namesake had become so popular) hardtop was THE car to get if you were a Pontiac guy with a heavy wallet and an eye for style. Lots of trim, that sleek white roofline, and enough familiar DNA to make it a handsome alternative to the more common Chevy. Frame-off restored in 2010, the Ginger Brown Metallic paint looks great and has a perfect period-correct feel on the curvaceous Pontiac sheetmetal. Since the restoration it's been driven sparingly, mostly to car shows (only 2,400 miles are on the clock), and even though there are a few very minor imperfections that can be found on closer examination, this Super Chief is still very impressive in every way. It fits together quite nicely, with even gaps and doors that close with reassuring solidity, and since there are practically zero reproduction pieces for this car, you know it has always led a good life to look this good today. Trim and brightwork are somewhat more restrained than on the Chevy, with the trademark side panel painted a contrasting white to match the hardtop. A small fortune went to the chrome shop, where brightwork and other ornamentation were restored to nearly show standards, especially those outrageous taillight housings.
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 fresh two-tone seats have been reupholstered in matching ginger and white vinyl using a pattern that's right for the era and remains all-day comfortable. The chrome-laden and paint-matched dashboard is all stock, hiding behind that incredibly cool dual-ringed, jet-age steering wheel, which is in fantastic restored condition. Fresh carpets on the floor use a plush weave and nap, and show zero wear, while the matching door panels tie the whole cabin together wonderfully. Original gauges are crisp and clear inside a bright 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 is fully upholstered to match the cabin and offers a full-size spare tire that's stowed away in the factory position.
The Pontiac wheelbase was only slightly bigger than the Chevy, but the 347 cubic inch V8 was a lot bigger than Chevy's 283, so performance is downright impressive. Fully rebuilt, bored .010 over, and fed through a factory 2-barrel carburetor and intake manifold, this is a low-profile cruiser with plenty of torque that can run with the best of them. It's nicely finished with Pontiac Dark Green engine enamel (correct for Pontiac Tri-5 V8s), matching factory valve covers, an original black air cleaner, and features options like power steering and big drum brakes that came with from the factory. The big V8 is backed by the indestructible GM Hydra-Matic 4-speed automatic transmission whose crisp shifts are a true mechanical pleasure. It starts quickly and pulls hard through all four gears with a subtle rumble of V8 soundtrack from the new dual exhaust pipes out back. A very clean and detailed undercarriage reinforce the idea that this has always been a solid car, and with steel wheels adorned with correct Pontiac hubcaps and thick whitewall radials, it rides and handles superbly.
It's hard to call a Pontiac unusual, but this full restored Super Chief will stand apart from the vastly more common Chevys, and for all the right reasons. Call today!
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