The story behind the car is the foundation of MyStarCollectorCar.
These stories add a large human element to the equation, so the possible scenarios are limitless-this is one of those unique scenarios.
Long term MSCC readers are well aware of the “wife and old cars are eternal enemies” stance in many narratives, but this 1956 Pontiac story is the large exception to the rule.
It began in the mid 1960s when Peter Friesen met his future wife Kathy.
Peter was driving a 1956 Pontiac 4-door-hardtop when the serious courting began, as Kathy recalled, “he was courting me in a Canadian 56 Pontiac, he traded it off after we were married and I was furious and I never let him forget that”. Car Guy Karma took over after that when, as Kathy added, “ a friend went by in a 1950 Chevy and my husband just melted so I suggested that he find another ’56”.
That was not an easy mission because a 1956 Pontiac 4-door-hardtop is a very elusive target. They were rare in 1956 and the years were not kind to most 4 door hardtops, consequently the search took 25 years.
A hunt for a rare car uncovers few possibilities and the first one was nearly 3000 miles away in Prince Edward Island, Canada. This was long before the marvels of modern technology allowed potential buyers to ask for high-definition, instant videos and pictures of potential vehicles. Peter waved off an instant case of buck fever and declined the offer to purchase because he wasn’t confident in the description of the car.
Peter analyzed a few more potential deals over the years until 1999 when he was working in a Ford dealership and he recalled, “we were doing standard guy stuff, talking about cars and I mentioned my 56 Pontiac and a guy said that he had one for sale. At first I didn’t believe him but eventually I ended up buying it sight unseen…I wrote the check before I saw the car”.
Peter’s gamble paid off. He was really impressed with the car as he related, “I drove up to northeast of Saskatoon Saskatchewan and there it was. It was a Star Chief 4 door hardtop and it was bought brand new in Nipiwan. It was sitting between two granaries and all the mechanicals were done. All I had to do was sweep out the dead mice”.
Peter is a typical car guy because the fear gene is non-existent when it comes to old iron . He admitted, “ I was a little leery and I had to do some adjusting on the brakes but it ran fine. The biggest problem I had was in Saskatoon when I stopped for an oil change and 4 tech guys came out to work on it-couldn’t get near it for awhile”.
After he got the car home, Peter drove the car for two years and he added, “Kathy had to take it to work too, so the car was a driver”.
Eventually Peter assessed the car as a project and he was pleasantly surprised with the old Star Chief as he related, “there was very little rust because this was a Saskatchewan car and it wasn’t in bad shape”. Nevertheless, the old Pontiac was put on a rotisserie and subjected to a complete restoration thanks, in no small part, to Peter’s skill as an auto body technician.
The Star Chief was done to show standards but it is far from a show queen because this old Pontiac is not only driven-it hauls a vintage 1958 Oasis holiday trailer. The trailer is not a mere car show prop, as Peter explained, “ we live in it on the road, If I can’t use it I don’t want it”.
So far the car has covered 22,000 miles with a minimal amount of effort. Peter explained “the big Pontiac V-8 has plenty of torque for the trailer and I solved a vapor lock issue by replacing the carb”.
The Friesens will celebrate 46 years of matrimony in August 2012 and one factor will be certain thanks to Kathy’s foresight-this 1956 Pontiac will be a big part of the celebration.
Eternal enemies signed a peace accord-that’s why this marriage lasted…
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