AUGUST 2016 HIGH POINTS FOR ORIGINALITY: A 1954 PONTIAC STAR CHIEF CUSTOM CATALINA

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The Pontiac Star Chief was the Poncho flag ship in 1954.

 

‘The Star Chief had the extra bling that made chrome dreams a big part of the 50s automotive scene and the high end Poncho wore it well.’

 

The Custom Catalina model took things a little further with the sleek two-door hardtop look.

 

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The shape of things to come in the 50s was already evident in the 1954 Pontiac because it had significant fins and they were a stylish addition to the car.

 

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There are few 1954 Custom Catalinas left in the world and we were fortunate to find one at a car show. This Poncho was restored to its original splendor by owners David and Carol Huber. It has its original Straight 8 flathead engine and still performs very well on the road.

 

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Dave knew the history of the car and filled in the blanks for MSCC. The car was originally purchased at a Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada dealership and this is noteworthy because it is an American model.

 

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The United States and Canada built different versions of the same brand back in 1954 and that included the Pontiac.

 

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How the American-built Star Chief was sold by a Canadian dealership is a question that Dave could not answer, but he knew the first owner was a farmer who did not use the car on a regular basis.

 

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The farmer’s most noteworthy trip in the car was to see Johnny Cash perform in a concert. He owned the car for many years and finally sold the car to its second owner.

 

The second owner passed away and Dave bought the car from his widow in 1996. Dave began his restoration on the car in 2001 and completed the task about three years later.

 

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Dave and Carol’s Poncho is noteworthy because it was the first year for the Star Chief marque and the last year for the Straight 8 engine. The Straight 8 was an inline engine and was a predecessor to the more common V-8 engine for Pontiacs in the Fifties.

 

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The 1954 Star Chief has a few other interesting features, including a four speed automatic transmission. It also has factory power steering and brakes because the American cars were more likely to have luxury touches than the no-frills Canadian models.

 

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The battery is hidden under a cover and concealed from view. The Pontiac also has a separate defroster unit that delivers heat to the windshield while the heater unit sits under the front seat and delivers heat to the cabin.

 

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Dave was attracted to the car when he first saw it and wanted to restore it to its original glory. Overall, the Pontiac was in good shape and had few rust issues.

 

Dave had a good game plan for the car when he finished the restoration: drive it.  The car has been driven on many long trips over the past several years and performed admirably along the way. Dave told MSCC his car is comfortable at highway speeds and will keep up with modern traffic.

 

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 ‘We would like to congratulate Dave and Carol because they own their stylish 62-year-old Pontiac for the best reason: sheer enjoyment of a classic car from the past.’

Jim Sutherland 

 

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