Traveling along one of the older streets of Boonton, New Jersey I happened upon this 1955 Pontiac parked at curbside. I took out my phone and snapped this photo which almost looks like it could have been taken circa 1960!
It’s a Star Chief coupe in what appears to be White Mist over Corsair Tan.
This car has lots of sparkly, solidly crafted details on it–like these cool stars which let the buyer on the showroom floor know this car is something special–a Star Chief! (Great name for a car!)
One of the first cars to sprout fins. Twin, swept-back radio antennas a la Packard. (To the right, 19th century sidewalk is made from solid blocks of blue slate–built to last centuries).
Close-up of tail light. (Turret of Victorian house in the background.)
Here’s a strange combination of the ancient and the modern–an Indian Chief’s head morphed onto a jet aircraft. Who comes up with these ideas? The Chief’s looking a little crackled and wrinkly–this plastic wasn’t made to last 60+ years. I think it’s supposed to light up.
I’m not a big fan of this extra orthodontia on the front. The 1955 Pontiac grille was actually a very sleek and clean design, and this gaudy grille guard clutters up things. (I don’t care if it’s a “genuine factory accessory”–it still mommucks things up!)
Here’s the ’55 Pontiac front end in its pure form–so much nicer!
This is the ’56. It looks like MAD magazine’s version of the ’55. I still like it though–call it “barbaric beauty”.
Ah, those glorious 1950s dashboards and steering wheels–some of my favorite things about cars of this era!
With air conditioning! The emblem says “PONTIAC Cool Pack”.
All these options/accessories–and those naked wheels . . . Get some hubcaps, man!
A block away from the parked ’55 I found another Pontiac–a Solstice I believe–in a junk pile. It’s been 13 years now since the last Pontiac was made. I think that we have to face the fact that anything with the PONTIAC name on it is becoming an endangered species. More and more of the remaining cars will be junked, and the Pontiac name will fade from the public’s consciousness. So keep an eye out for surviving Pontiacs!
P.S.: The last Pontiac ever built (assembled in January 2010) was recently totalled and sold as junk for $450.
A prophecy: 50-100 years from now, someone will pay $1000 for that Disney toy Pontiac Solstice. Today it’s considered worthless junk.
Great find Stephen.
Even the whitewall tires are just right. Not too wide; not too thin. Very mid 1950s.
The exhaust outlet is also correct.
This owner has a very detailed approach to the care of this car.
I’m sure the hubcaps or wheel covers (probably wheel covers) will also be perfect – once they’re sourced and perfectly restored. Then this Pontiac will be perfect.
I wonder whether the owner has them stored off the car for safe keeping?
Wow, that 2010 Pontiac that was recently totaled was the only 2010 Pontiac ever built! Pontiacs mostly ceased production in 2009, but the assembly line was fired up one last time so that the marque’s life could extend into the new decade.
It didn’t make it too far. Sad, isn’t it? I doubt whoever was driving it last knew it was a piece of automotive history. This article shows the beginning of Pontiac’s heyday and it’s disgraced ending. I’ve always loved the name Star Chief.
The best part is that it’s out being used, parked at the curb with the windows down just like it’s nothing special. Even though my stuff is all driver quality, I still get nervous parking out on the street. If we’re at a restaurant, I’ll always try to sit where I can see the car.
Neat car, the first year of the Pontiac V8. Who knew at this point that the same basic architecture would evolve into the Ram Air IV 400 and the Super Duty 455 (and back to the 265/301)? A local guy and his son collect ’53 Pontiacs, and I stopped to check one of them out when I was out on a bike ride last summer. It’s a straight 8 with a three speed, and they have a certain charm, too, but there’s no denying that the ’55 was a big change.
Great advertising, too!
Don’t forget those gun slinging 389/421/428’s. Those were some serious engines.
Nice example of an under appreciated car. I think all of the extra length in the Star Chief was in the trunk. The passenger compartment was the same size as the lesser Chieftain. I actually like the ‘56 a bit better. The slight trim changes and wider placed “suspenders” seem to work better. The A/C unit is interesting, as even though it’s a hang-on unit it seems to be an official Pontiac accessory. Pontiac also offered true factory A/C this year, with everything up front with vents and controls integrated in the dash. Rare to be sure, as its $400 plus price added almost 20% to the price of the car.
And yes, the Indian hood ornament lit up when the lights were on.
Great find Stephen, and I agree, until you pulled out the frame after the first pic, it did indeed look like something that could have been taken 60 years ago.
So many cool details on this “Star Chief”. I love the light up (I think it is supposed to as well) hood ornament, the accents above the front headlights, and the twin antennas coming off the proto-fins out back. I have never understood the need for accessory bumper over-riders like this one has. At least these ones have mostly stayed chromed and in proper orientation. So often that’s not the case with add-ons it seems.
And finally, I actually HOPE that Solstice toy is still around as a sought-after collectible 60 – 100 years from now. Unfortunately, it will probably be cluttering up the ocean/landfill/trashpile as plastic waste for our great grandchildren to deal with.
My daughter got married in London UK in 2005 and I was lucky enough to have 2 friends to lend me with wedding cars as my ’55 Cadillac was still being restored. A ’56 Catalina for me and the bride and a ’56 Chrysler New Yorker for teh bridesmaids. Made a lovely duo driving across London on a very sunny day.
Have a friend who has spent years restoring a duplicate for this STAR CHIEF. Now drives it occasionally and takes it to local shows. Yes the hood ornament did light up much like earlier DeSoto. Believe the chrome bands on hood made their last appearance in almost identical 56. These were a Pontiac trim item from at least 1950. 🤔 Interesting that Pontiac rear fenders had a bump up similar to Cadillac. In fact as I look at side shot rear side looks Much like 57 Cadillac. Among my numerous cars over the years, I had a 74 Grand Ville and 80 Bonneville Brougham. Beautiful upscale cars.Like so many other brands, Pontiac may be gone,but not forgotten!
So, I guess the dual antennae indicate the 1955 form of stereophonic AM ?!
I’m guessing one of them is a dummy. Nonfunctional.
Along with the hubcaps, don’t forget the fender skirts! 🙂
Oops! Lost the picture! 🙂
Great combination of car and location.
I’ve seen cars being driven to car shows with their wheel covers removed. Not often, but I’ve seen it. Wheelcovers are easily lost, easily damaged, and impossible to replace, so some people don’t want to risk losing one.
Wow, what a great curbside find! And a great setting, with the historic homes. And I love the first photo, suddenly it’s 1960!
A bit of CC effect going on as I just recently saw the same car in a different color in Arizona (see photo below if it loads). I prefer yours, I like the color better and the skirtless rear wheel opening. For the purposes of your photos, I even love the bare wheels. It adds to the effect of it being 1960, because who would drive such a sharp, stock classic car today without hubcaps? The turquoise car does have a perfect plastic Chieftaur. Assuming it was restored somehow.
I agree with you that the 55 grille is better. I did a CC on a 56 Star Chief a couple years ago and came to that conclusion at the time.
The sidewalk trivia is interesting. Maybe you should do a curbside classic on sidewalks, which would be totally appropriate. They are just on the OTHER side of the curb.
Trying to attach again
I also think the sidewalk trivia is interesting – I’ve never noticed a slate sidewalk before. Must be pretty slippery when wet. Overall, it looks in better shape than my house’s 1920s-era concrete driveway (picture below).
And somewhat tangentially, just last week I finished reading a biography of Pontiac (the Indian chief) and his war against the English. Interesting reading, since I never knew much about Chief Pontiac before, nor that often-overlooked period between the French & Indian wars and the American Revolution, which is when Pontiac rose to prominence.
Delayed CC Effect – I actually saw a black ‘55 on the road in town a few days ago. I’d never seen it before. Another one of those times I wished I had a dash cam.
I think that a lot of us were introduced to the ’55 Pontiac due to this TV show.
A Pontiac wagon would have been better for their trip oh and of course they should have had a windshield!
Yes, Ricky should have had some ‘splainin’ to do about that 🙂
Which I have watched innumerable times. Great shot.
California here we come… First stop was “Indiana” as I recall.
The Pontiac is parked in front of 235 Washington Avenue in Boonton. A block or two north along the same side of the street is Nostalgia Motors.
The car owner was either stopping in to say hi to Bob, the business owner, or it was parked there temporarily between servicing as cars needed to be moved in and out of the shop.
it is a great place to see cars from all eras being serviced and/or restored.
That’s 235 Washington Street (not Avenue).
Great catch. It’s just like they commonly would have looked in the early ’60s, looking a wee bit used but well kept. The lack of wheel covers at the time would have suggested a younger owner; taking off full wheel covers showed you were performance-oriented.
That ’55 Chevy body center section sure looks a bit lost in those long front and rear ends attached to it.
The ’55 front end is one of the more unique ones of the times; it really does look like it’s almost straight off a Motorama dream car from ’53 or ’54.
What a great find! I have a fascination with Pontiacs of this period. Some of the details are a little heavy-handed, but they work to give the car some added bulk/gravity that differentiates it from the simpler (and maybe more tasteful) Chevrolet.
Chrysler and the independents often struggled to find attractive ways to do 2-tone cars, but GM (and Ford) made it look easy. This Pontiac is a great example.
I will agree that “Star Chief” is a great name, but wonder why people kept calling the front of cars like this a “grille”. There were certainly some major design elements that sat ahead of the radiator, but none of them kept the bugs or debris out.
A good looking survivor .
I remember my 1954 Pontiac Coupes, it had factory in dash A/C too .