Pontiac Chieftain Reviews

1955 Pontiac Chieftain Four door sedan-870 287 c.i. V8 from North America

Year of manufacture1955
First year of ownership2008
Most recent year of ownership2009
Engine and transmission 287 c.i. V8 Automatic
Performance marks 7 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 6 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.3 / 10
Distance when acquired78000 miles
Most recent distance80000 miles

Summary:

Great old cruiser. Never to be a custom or hotrod

Faults:

Well gee guys, this car is 54 years old. I bought it from a man that had it stored in a barn for some ten years or so.

Put a new battery and a set of tires on it. Poured some gas in the carb and she fired right up. Had to replace the head gaskets, which gave me a chance to look inside the motor. No ring groves, put new points and an alternator for convenience.

The interior is all original and beginning to show her age a little. I am in the process of prepping her for a new paint job and maybe a replacement interior, as original as possible of course.

This old girl runs and drives like cars were designed to way back when. Wish I could live long enough to see how the current junk Detroit is producing now will look in 54 years.

I am proud to be able to bring this nice old gal back to life, and make her all pretty again.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th February, 2009

1955 Pontiac Chieftain 4-door sedan 287 C.I. V8 from North America

Year of manufacture1955
First year of ownership1956
Most recent year of ownership2008
Engine and transmission 287 C.I. V8 Automatic
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 5 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.8 / 10
Distance when acquired3000 miles
Most recent distance250000 miles
Previous carFord Customline

Summary:

A rugged old tank

Faults:

The engine was rebuilt due to mild oil consumption and mild smoking at 150,000 miles.

The rear differential was replaced at about the same time due to a slight roar from the gearing.

Other than the above mentioned items the car has been a fantastic car. It has had several brake jobs, tune-ups, hoses, etc., but little else. The original 4-speed hydramatic has never been touched and still shifts as good as new.

The car has been painted twice in its 53 year history, and is currently the factory original turquoise and white two-tone.

General Comments:

This car was almost new when purchased and has been in our family ever since. I basically grew up with the car, and drove it when I was in high school (I'm now 60). The car was an incredibly rugged, well built car and took a lot of abuse in stride in my teen years. The car had seat covers installed immediately upon purchasing it, and the original upholstery is still perfect. Grease was injected into the rocker panel areas to inhibit rust, and the car is totally rust free.

Upon my father's death the car was passed on to another relative, and it underwent a cosmetic restoration and is currently given a very leisurely existence, being used in parades and shows, and making a very brief appearance in one movie. It was driven daily as my father's main means of transportation until 1988.

It is a 4-door sedan and has manual windows, no air and no power steering or brakes (and yes, it is a bear to parallel park with manual steering!!) It did (and still does) 0-60 in a leisurely 9 seconds and will still bury the red line speedometer on 120.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th September, 2008

8th Sep 2008, 10:27

You mention rebuilding the engine on this '55. I have a question - I know it is very cheap and rather easy to get a rebuild done on a 70's or 80's detroit iron V8, like say a 350 or a 302, or even a 455, but is it difficult to get it done on such an old and unusual V8? There can't be that many '273s' still out there.

16th Sep 2008, 16:43

I'm the original reviewer. The '55 we have has a 287 C.I. V-8 OHV engine. We rebuilt the engine under the shade of a huge oak tree in my father's yard many years ago (I honestly can't remember the year, as it has been so long).

The older engines, such as 1955, are incredibly simple due to virtually ZERO electronic crap and no pollution control stuff. Everything is easily accessible. Removing the heads required some muscle (they are HEAVY) but proved no problem. The cylinders were honed and new rod bearings and rings were installed, as well as necessary gaskets and other such items. The engine was NOT removed, as access to the bottom end was excellent after removing the oil pan. The pistons were simply tapped out using a small hammer and a piece of wood.

My late brother was a master mechanic (though he was a self-made millionaire in another profession). He cleaned, polished and oiled everything inside the engine before reassembly, and bet me that once it was totally reassembled and the battery connected, it would start in less than 10 spins with the starter. I won the bet. It fired up on the 12th spin, and has run flawlessly for another 108,000 miles.

7th Mar 2009, 18:44

Dodge did not make a 273 cubic inch engine. They did make a 270 as a Hemi and a plane Red Ram. I have one from a 55.

8th Mar 2009, 10:57

Yes, Dodge did make a 273 cubic inch V-8. It was offered in some Dodge Darts and Plymouth Barracudas in the mid to late '60s.

15th Sep 2010, 19:26

I had a 67 dodge with a 273 engine.

16th Sep 2010, 12:39

"Chieftain". What a great name for a car!

Average review marks: 7.5 / 10, based on 2 reviews