Tired of looking at the same old Bel Air builds over and over again? Well, we’ve found something different, something nobody else is going to have at the local car show. It’s a 1957 Pontiac Chieftain in semi-original condition. As in everything is perfect, but it’s not some unrestored patina car that’s been sitting for 40 years.
As you may have guessed from these shiny photos, this is another one of those classic cars that Vanguard Motors is selling. This one costs $89,900, which seems like a lot for a Chieftain, but we’ve never seen one in this condition. And it’s not like they’re demanding extra just because it’s rare; a Chevy would cost about the same.
Anyway, Vanguard is known for its cool car shots, but they must have had a little trouble with the color. Photographers know about red being difficult because it looks pink sometimes, but I’ve never seen pink-looking orange before. Maybe that’s because there are no pink cars.
According to the DuPont paint chips for 1957 this can only be DUCO 2447-H Carib Coral. It would have been available for the Bonneville, Chieftain, Safari, Star, and Super Chief. Some of those are basically the same car, wagons, sedans, coupes and convertibles.
In 1949 the Chieftain and Streamliner were the first all-new Pontiacs to come out post-WW2. The major highlight first this 2nd-gen model was Pontiac’s first V8 engine called the Strato Streak V8. More on that later.
First Tri-Power: three two-barrel carburetors
This 1957 model belongs to the last of only four production years. Its stand-out feature was the Star Flight styling theme, which gave it those white, chrome-laced missile shapes down the sides. You don’t get those on a Bel Air, now do you! Also, the Chieftain gained some incredibly ornate chrome bumpers. Vanguard Motors argues these things alone could be worth more than $20,000 because they’re restored.
The last model year saw the introduction of the Tri-Power Pontiac V8s, with the displacement growing from 316.6 cubic inches the previous year to 347 (5.2 to 5.7-liter). As a result, power made a considerable increase to 290 hp, and these things sound downright amazing even without any modifications.
But what we have here is what’s known as the Nascar-certified option for the Tri-Power, which would add three Rochester carburetors and a giant air cleaner, raising total power to 317 hp. But you’re not going to drive this hard with the original suspension and Strato-Flight Hydra-matic 4-speed automatic transmission sending power to an open 3.23 rear axle.
Mostly, owning a 1957 Chieftain should be about all the details that set it apart from a Chevrolet 210. That grille looks like some ancient kitchen appliance or shaving apparatus, while many of the interior components are uniquely designed, from the dash to the wheel. It’s amazing that this was made just two years before the 1959 Impala; they’re totally different machines.